5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Southern India Holiday

By on October 1, 2014

By Sophia Mann-

India is on the bucket list of many globe trotters and adventurers, and even those simply who simply love to travel and revel in the differences of humanity.

But it’s too big a land to be explored in one visit. The best is to zero down on your main attraction in India and find the places related to it.

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The south of the country, barring Goa, doesn’t get much press in the West, which I think is a shame. It is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, tea gardens, a unique range of cultures, great food, and greater people.

For nature lovers and those who love to go beyond the beaten path, here are some of our recommendations along with suggestions on how to make the most of your Indian holiday in southern India.

Get onboard the Konkan Railway

Apparently, the opening sequence of the last James Bond-starrer Skyfall was to be shot along the Konkan Railway like. But the film makers ran into some problems with the Indian authorities and the plan didn’t go through. Ultimate the scenes were shot in Turkey.

But it’s not difficult to understand why the Konkan stretch caught the eye of the filmmakers in the first place.

It’s as picturesque as anything in your imagination times hundred. It’s huge, sprawling, pristine, divine – any more adjectives and you’d think I’m raving.

Get onboard any train on this line and preferably travel second class to enjoy the passing scenery from the window.

The Konkan Railway line starts from Mumbai and culminates in Mangalore, which is on the western coast of India, more than 600 km south of Mumbai.

Try not to travel alone though. Any journey onboard the Konkan Railway is likely to be long, which would involve you taking several bathroom breaks as well as going to sleep for more than a few hours. With someone to accompany you, you can be assured of the safety of your luggage when you are leaving it unattended. And in any case, two is better than one when enjoying a new country.

Do Visit a Hill Station or Two

Everyone visits the popular cities, but hill stations is where the real beauty lies.n

Hill stations are quaint little towns dotting the entire Indian landscape, set up during colonial times by the British to be their summer retreats. The Brits left the country long ago but the hill stations set up by them continue to get attention and love from the Indians. South India has its fair share of lovely hill stations that you absolutely must visit during your time here. Coorg, Kunnoor, Munnar, Ooty,– you have numerous options. They are green, cool, and full of colonial architecture.

Witness a show of Kathakali

Kathakali is an ancient Indian dance-drama form with unforgettable makeup and costumes.

You should not leave Kerala without catching a show or two of this mesmerizing dance form. Fort Kochi (in the town of Kochi, Kerala) is a great place to experience this. You may even get a chance to converse with one of the trained dancers and learn a few of their actions, movements and expressions. It will be an amazing experience.

Savor Authentic South Indian Food

Resist the urge to check into a local McDonald’s or even settle for north Indian food (which you might be more familiar with, since the most popular Indian food globally tends to be from the Punjab region of the country).

The food in the southern part of the country is drastically different from the greasy and spice-laden varieties that are typically associated with the food from India.

Some of it is a form of art, pure white mounds served on green banana leaves. It’s not an experience you’ll be able to have anywhere else in the world, since this food is made of indigenous spices and food products

And you must do this in every part of this region you visit, since the food, along with the language and the culture, changes drastically from state to state, if not district to district.

Ride an Elephant

This is probably just the kid in me talking, but what’s a trip to India, and especially southern India, if you do not get to ride an elephant?

Elephants are such wonderful creatures, it had been a dream of mine to pat one from close and touch its trunk. I did one better; I sat on it! I rode it for a few minutes, which were among the best in my life!

The mahouts will ensure you don’t fall off, so that you are able to keep giggling as the gentle giant walks at its laidback pace, making impromptu stops along the way whenever a laden branch catches its eye.

Just make sure you’re dressed in a pair of jeans, trousers, or shorts, and not a skirt for the occasion!


Southern India in general is safe for women. All the places mentioned here are safe for women to travel on their own, but even so that is not something we would recommend. However, many a Western woman has made her way through India on her own and returned with a truckload of beautiful memories. So if that sort of adventure excites you, it’s your call.

Also, dress conservatively. That simply means don’t indulge in any skin show, even if you do come across Indian women who do so. India is still a very conservative country, though it does have its pockets of people with modern Western lifestyles. But it’s best not to push your luck and attract unwanted attention.

Sophia Mann is a writer and traveler. She writes about the best destinations and travel deals. She loves traveling to different places and makes it a point to share her travel experiences with people who have similar interests. She is also an avid moviegoer and a hiking enthusiast.



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5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Southern India Holiday