Visit Southern India
The best places to visit in Southern India
Perhaps best known for the glorious beaches of Goa, southern India is a verdant land patchworked with tea plantations and criss-crossed by the palm-lined canals of Kerala. The stand-out cities of Mumbai, Puducherry and Kochi are home to centuries-old ruins and vibrant modern architecture, while away from the coast, a dense carpet of forests are home to elephants and leopards.
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Prosperous Mumbai, a rapidly developing modern city, is actually an island connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. Among its sprawling maze of streets, opulence and adversity are found in equal measures. Take a look at the intricately carved turrets of the instantly recognisable Gateway of India, or hop onboard a boat to Elephanta Island, a collection of 6th century rock-hewn temples, reached by 100 hillside steps.
A network of over 1000 miles of canals, rivers and lakes, the Backwaters of Kerala were traditionally used for transport, fishing and agriculture. These days, you’re more likely to see the traditional houseboats used for relaxing cruises along the palm-fringed waterways, a unique way to gain an insight into life by the water’s edge. There’s wildlife to be spotted too – look out for kingfishers, cormorants, otters and turtles as you drift downstream.
Synonymous with idyllic beaches, Goa is the place to come for long lazy days relaxing on the sands, dipping your toes in the softly lapping waves and kicking back under a coconut palm. The town is a former Portuguese colony, a fact that is still evident in the crumbling architecture, the fusion food, the laid-back way of life and of course the daily siesta. It’s not just about the beaches though, as Goa offers a handful of worthwhile museums and art galleries, including the Christian Art Museum, the Goa Chitra Museum and the Naval Aviation Museum.
As a former spice trading port, the island city of Kochi has been visited by traders from all over the world for 600 years. It’s not surprising then that Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, Chinese and Japanese influences weave together to create an eclectic town filled with an intriguing mix of cultures. For the stand-out attraction head down to the water. There, the Chinese fishing nets, fixed structures over ten metres in height were constructed in the 14th century using mechanical principles far advanced for their time.