South India consists of many cities, but below is a list of the most notable:
The backwaters of Kerala consist of a network of both manmade and natural canals, 38 rivers and 5 lakes which extend from one end of Kerala to the other. Known as one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia, there are a number of towns and cities located within the backwaters which serve as starting and ending points for backwater cruises and tours.
The backwaters are one of the largest fresh-water sources in India and are home to an incredible variety of fauna and flora, including crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds such as terns, kingfishers, darters and cormorants, and animals such as otters and turtles live in and alongside the backwaters. Palm trees, pandanus shrubs, various leafy plants and bushes grow alongside the backwaters, providing a green hue to the surrounding landscape.
There is no better way to explore the backwaters of Kerala than by overnighting on a houseboat, commonly known as a Kettuvallam.
With its equatorial climate, pristine beaches, large stretches of emerald backwaters, waterfalls, sprawling plantations and paddy fields and historical and cultural monuments, the backwaters of Kerala should be on every travellers list of places to visit when exploring India.
Commonly referred to as the “cultural capital of India”, Chennai is well known for its inherent traditions and age old heritage. This 369 year old city serves as one of the main gateways to South India and has become a major destination for medical tourism, as well as visitors wanting to experience the thriving local culture and art scene.
Chennai is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and consists of the second largest beachfront of any metropolis in the world, ranging over 200 square kilometres.
Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is a small town situated approximately 60km south of Chennai and is famous for its stone carvings and temples. Well known as an ancient historic town, Mahabalipuram is now purely a tourist town and one of the major attractions around Chennai.
A group of sanctuaries which consist of temples, caves and sculptures have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pondicherry, more recently named Puducherry, is a town situated on the eastern seaboard and was once the largest French colony in India.
The town, which makes for a pleasant mix of East and West, offers many attractions for visitors such as palm-fringed beaches, backwaters, fishing villages, beach resorts and the French heritage found in the boulevards which are lined with Mediterranean style houses and bakeries. You will not be short of good foods and fine wines in Pondicherry.
Tanjore, recently changed to Thanjavur, is a city which lies 342kms from Chennai and is the headquarters of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples, which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage monuments, are found in and around Tanjore, making it a tourism hotspot for those wanting to experience Indian religion, art and architecture.
Periyar is a river that flows throughout the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and has been named the “Lifeline of India” due to the fact that it is one of the few perennial rivers in the region and provides drinking water for several major towns.
Allepey, also known as Alappuzha, is a city in Alappuzha District of Kerala. Referred to as “Venice of the East”, this town consists of charming canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons and is the oldest planned town in the region.
It is worth your while to make a stop in Alleppey and enjoy the tropical village life before heading to the backwaters of Alappuzha, which are known to be the most popular tourist attraction within Kerala.
Cochin, once a small town, has outgrown its original bounds and is now the general name given to the region joining the original town of Cochin, Fort Kochi, Mattanchery, Ernakulam and many other nearby villages and towns.
Also referred as the Gateway to Kerala, this vibrant seaside city is situated on the south west coast of the Indian peninsula in Kerala, commonly referred to as “Gods own Country”.
Kochi, the original name of the city, is the ideal starting point for exploring the unfathomable diversity and beauty of Kerala and boasts a world class port and international airport that links to a variety of major cities worldwide.