Welcome to the lush Western Ghats, some of the most welcome heat relief in India. Rising like an impassable bulwark of evergreen and deciduous tangle from north of Mumbai to the tip of Tamil Nadu, the Ghats (with an average elevation of 915m) contain 27% of India’s flowering plants and an incredible array of endemic wildlife. In Tamil Nadu they rise to 2000m and more in the Palni Hills around Kodaikanal and the Nilgiris around Ooty. British influence lingers a little stronger up in these hills, where the colonists covered the slopes in neatly trimmed tea bushes and created their 'hill stations' to escape the heat of the plains. It’s not just the air and (relative) lack of pollution that’s refreshing – there’s a certain acceptance of quirkiness and eccentricity in the hills that is rarer in the lowlands. Think organic farms, handlebar-moustached trekking guides and tiger-stripe earmuffs for sale in the bazaars.
Mudumalai National Park
In the foothills of the Nilgiris, this 321-sq-km reserve is like a classical Indian landscape painting given life: thin, spindly trees and light-slotted leaves concealing spotted chital deer and grunting wild boar.
Lush and tropical, southern India is inspiring and delightful. Beneath the green shade of a coastal paradise, meet with locals in their fishing villages and tribal homes. Join them in the bazaars, on buses and boats or even on pilgrimage in Madurai.
South India Unplugged
Unplug from everyday routine and head to the beaches and backwaters of southern India. Visit India's lush landscapes, experience its intriguing religions and explore its exotic bazaars.