Beat the heat with these 10 hidden gems down South| Best places to visit

TRAVEL @The Hush Post|

Summers are in and for many families, it’s time to plan the annual vacation. India is a fusion of varying cultures and regions, ensuring that there is no dearth of holiday destinations. However, there are many lesser-known but equally beautiful places that South India has. With its glistening beaches, lush greenery, tropical climate and intricate architecture, South India is a treasure trove of travel spots. Here is a list of top 10 places down South that might excite the traveler in you!

HAMPI

A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Ballari district of Karnataka. Surprisingly, it recently acquired the second spot in the New York Times list of, ‘52 Places To Go In 2019’. Also, it serves as an architectural complex of temples, shrines, pillars and hallways. It is a must visit for history and culture enthusiasts.

Main Attraction: Virupaksha Temple, it’s one of the oldest functioning temples.

Places to Stay: Heritage Resort Hampi, Leo Wooden Resort. For those on a tight budget, there are options like the Goan Corner and Gowri Guesthouse which are priced under 1000 rupees.

Getting There: Buses, both state and private ones, are available. There are also some trains that run from Bangalore to Hospet Junction. Hospet is 12 km from Hampi, and this stretch can be covered by an auto or a government bus.

 

GOKARNA

For those who love the sea but aren’t too fond of crowded beaches, Gokarna should be on your bucket list. Located in the state of Karnataka, it lies on the western coast of India. Although home to many temples, the town has emerged to be a major attraction for its pristine beaches. Trekking and surfing are some of the popular activities carried out here.

Main Attraction: Om Beach, known for its water sports activities, shacks, and cafes.

Places to Stay: Hostels and shacks like Arnav Cottages and Greenland Guesthouse, Kudle Beach View Resort and Sanskruti Quality Resort

Getting There: State buses from Panaji, Bengaluru and Mangalore and private ones from Bengaluru run daily. The nearest railway station is at a distance of 6 km. Poorna Express, Mangalore Local, KSR Bengaluru Karwar Express are available. Nearest airports include Hubli Airport, Goa International Airport and Mangalore International Airport.

BELUM CAVES

The Belum caves are located near the Belum village of Kurnool District in Andhra Pradesh. A nature’s handiwork, these caves are known for their stalactite and stalagmite formations. The cave system has visitors from all over India and even abroad. However, the intricate pathways and cavernous corridors truly display nature at its finest.

Main Attraction: Saptaswaralu Guha; also called the musical chamber is a stalactite formation that replicates musical sounds when struck with an object.

Places to Stay: Hotels are available in the Kurnool district like the Sign Regency Hotel, Trigunna Clarks Inn and Hotel Sasya Pride.

Getting There: There are trains available from Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai to Tadipatri. From here, one can take a bus to Belum Caves. From Bengaluru, there are direct buses to Tadipatra, from here, bus can be changed to reach the caves.

PONDICHERRY

With its French architecture, sunny beaches, churches and quaint cafes, Pondicherry is slowly becoming a hot favorite among travelers. The city is painted in an array of youthful colors, that lend the city its vibrant yet relaxed vibe. From small pubs and breweries to art galleries and exhibitions, the city has something for everyone.

Main Attraction: Paradise Beach; known for its clean sand, crystal clear water and picturesque sight.

Places to Stay: Some of the more expensive ones include The Promenade, Le Dupleix, Villa Shanti and La Villa. Mid-range options are Ginger Pondicherry, Le Mirage, Hotel Coramandel Heritage. 

Getting There: The airport at Pondicherry has flights from Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The nearest railway station is in Villupuram about 35 km from the city. You can call for a taxi to reach the town. Both private and state owned buses travel from Chennai, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Thanjar, Trichy and Madurai to Pondicherry.

OOTY

Ooty is a hill station in Tamil Nadu that looks straight out of a postcard. It is nestled amidst the Nilgiri Hills and surrounded by green meadows, tea gardens and clear waterfalls. Ooty is situated in the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve. Ooty is a go to place for those in love with the hills and the greens.

Main Attraction: Nilgiri Mountain Railway; it operates as a toy train that covers a distance of 46 km. The train makes its way through enthralling sights of nature, ensuring a picturesque ride.

Places to Stay: Some famous places include Sterling Ooty Fern Hill, Savoy Ooty, Sinclair Retreat Ooty. You could also stay at the Ooty White House Homestay and Zostel Ooty without burning a hole in your pocket.

Getting There: The nearest domestic airport is at Coimbatore which is well connected with most Indian cities. Mettupalyam, 40 km from Ooty is the nearest rail head. It has trains coming in from Chennai, Coimbatore, Mysore and Karnataka. Overnight buses from Bengaluru, Mysore and Chennai are easily available.

COORG

Coorg’s landscape is home to undulating hills and lush forests covering them. Located in the state of Karnataka, Coorg is sight for the sore eyes thanks to its scenic beauty. It’s blessed with orange groves and coffee plantations in abundance.

Furthermore, it has also emerged as a trekking spot for the tourists. The local culture and people also add to the experience with their hospitality and warmth. Moreover, with its enchanting appeal, Coorg truly lives up to its nickname of ‘Scotland of India’.

Main Attraction: Abbey Falls; A breathtaking spectacle of white foams of water gushing down from a height of 70 feet.

Places to Stay: For a stay steeped in luxury and lavishness, Taj Madikeri Resort and Spa is the ideal place. Also, other options include Hotel Le Coorg, Three Hills Coorg, and the Blue Mountains Estate Stay.

Getting There: Mangalore International Airport serves as the nearest domestic airport. The nearest railway station happens to be in Mysore. The most feasible option is to take a state deluxe bus from Mysore, Bengaluru or Mangalore.

CHIKKAMAGALURU

Located in the Chikmaglur district of Karnataka, it is slowly gaining attention due to its favorable climate and beautiful hills. The place offers many tourist attractions including trekking, and sightseeing. One could spend a lazy afternoon under waterfalls or take a tour of coffee plantations. Apart from this, Chikmaglur is home to some of the most beautiful temples owing to its rich history.

Main Attraction: Mullayanagri Trek; the highest peak of Karnataka located at a height of 2000 m.

Places to Stay: Some of the pocket friendly options include Zostel Chikmagalur, Coffeebean Homestay and The Hidden Valley. It also offers luxurious options like Java Rain Resorts and The Serai.

Getting There: The nearest airport is in Mangalore. State and private buses from Bengaluru, Mangalore, Hubli and Hassan are the most feasible options. The closest railway station is in Kadur at a distance of 40 km.

VATTAKANAL

This hamlet located in the Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu, is like a small paradise amidst the valleys. This tiny village is not yet a tourist hot spot and is devoid of any commercialization. It is dotted with tiny street stalls and vendors selling local delicacies. One could go on a day long trek or even laze around in meadows with cattle grazing around. Staying in Vattakanal would be like staying in the lap of nature.

Main Attraction: Dolphin Nose; a section of mountain edge that resembles a dolphin nose and offers a scenic view.

Places to Stay: You could find home stays like the Ruban Cottage, RC Guesthouse and Pink House Cottage. One could also stay in the nearby town of Kodaikanal and travel to Vattakanal from there.

Getting There: Madurai has the nearest airport and from there it’s a four to five hour drive to Vattakanal. One can also take an overnight bus from Bengaluru to Kodaikanal. You can take a cab to reach Vattakanal.

YELAGIRI

Adventure junkies could also head over to Yelagiri, a hill station located in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu. People throng this hamlet to get a taste of trekking, hiking, boating and paragliding. It also hosts the annual Yelagiri Summer festival. Nature’s bounty is at display here with wide variety of lakes, vast paddy fields, lakes and of course majestic hills.

Main Attraction: Vainu Bappu Observatory; also known as the Telescope Observatory offers insight into the movement of stars and other celestial bodies.

Places to Stay: AGS Holiday Resorts, Hotel Landmark, and TGI Kairos are some good and pocket friendly options to stay here.

Getting There: Buses from Bangalore, Chennai, Vanayambadi and Krishnagiri are easily available. The nearest railway station is in Jolarpettai, 21 km from Yelagiri, following which one can take a cab. The nearest airports are in Bangalore and Chennai. One could also arrange for car rentals from Bengaluru, Chennai, and Coimbatore.

MYSORE

With palaces, temples, churches and museums, this city beckons all those who can’t get enough of India’s rich culture.There is no dearth of things to do in the city of Mysore. Right from its silk saris and sandalwood soaps, to architecture and the mouthwatering Mysore Pak, it offers a lot. Zoos, parks and art galleries are some of the other places one could visit. There are a lot of walking tours available in the city.

Main Attraction: Mysore Palace, a palace steeped in grandeur and royalty that lights up at night.

Places to Stay: Pricier options include Radisson Blu Plaza, The Kings Sanctuary and Kabini Lake View Resort. Zostel Mysore and Tulips Home stay are relatively cheaper places.

Getting There: The nearest airport is in Bengaluru and from there it’s a three hour drive to Mysore. There are many express trains travelling from Bengaluru to Mysore. You can take state and private buses from Bengaluru itself.

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