Introducing South India & Kerala
Like a giant wedge plunging into the Indian Ocean, peninsular South India is the subcontinent's steamy heartland, and a lush contrast to the snow-capped peaks and sun-crisped plains of the North.
Expect The Unexpected
India loves to toss up the unexpected. This can be challenging, particularly for the first-time visitor: the poverty is confronting, Indian bureaucracy can be exasperating and the crush of humanity may turn the simplest task into a frazzling epic. Even veteran travellers find their nerves frayed at some point; yet this is all part of the India experience. With an ability to inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound all at once, adopting a 'go with the flow' attitude is wise if you wish to retain your sanity. Love it or loathe it – and most travellers see-saw between the two – to embrace India's unpredictability is to embrace her soul.
Why I Love South India & Kerala
By Sarina Singh
The moment I start to think I'm right on the precipice of unravelling one of India's deep mysteries, she has an uncanny way of reminding me that it would take more than just a few lifetimes to do so. Indeed, demystifying India is a perpetual work-in-progress. And that is precisely what makes the country so deeply addictive for me. The constant exploration. The playful unpredictability. And knowing that, just when it's least expected, you can find yourself up close and personal with moments that have the power to alter the way you view the world and your place in it.
Spirituality is the common thread that weaves its way through the vast and complex tapestry that is contemporary India. The multitude of sacred sites and time-honoured rituals are testament to a long, colourful, and sometimes tumultuous, religious history. And then there are the festivals! South India hosts some of the nation's most spectacular devotional events – from formidable city parades celebrating auspicious dates on the religious calendar, to simple harvest fairs that pay homage to a locally worshipped deity.
South India comprises thousands of kilometres of coastline that frame fertile plains and curvaceous hills, all kept glisteningly green by the double-barrelled monsoon. The region’s tropical splendour is one of its greatest tourist drawcards with thick coconut groves, luminescent rice paddies, fragrant spice gardens and picturesque tea plantations proffering plenty of green respite. And then there are the waterways. Azure seas gently lap crescents of sun-warmed sand and boats cruise along the slender rivers and glassy lagoons of Kerala’s famed backwaters.
With its glorious culinary variety and melange of dining-out options, South India is deliciously rewarding. From traditional southern favourites such as idlis (fermented rice cakes) and large papery dosas (savoury crepes) to a mix of inventive fusion creations, there’s certainly no dearth of choice for the hungry traveller. Food has also long played a prominent role in many of the region’s festivals, with temptingly colourful mithai (sweets) more often than not taking centre stage.
This region includes Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, a bustling, buzzing hub of IT, shopping, dining and crazy traffic. If all that gets too much, you can limber up for some Ashtanga yoga at Mysore where a slower pace is dutifully rewarded. South of Mysore, Bandipur National Park includes the sanctuaries of Nugarhole, Mudalmai in Tamil Nadu and Wayanad in Kerala.