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India Kerla backwaters

Dave’s South India Adventure


Our very own India Travel Specialist Dave headed out on a special adventure to discover South India and came back positively bursting with stories. From steam trains to hill-top vistas and tropical beaches, read on to hear all about his experience in this lush region, away from the hustle and bustle of the north.
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I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I was going to South India, after many visits to the country I was excited to explore more of this stunning area. I found it less touristy than the north, with far more local Indian and Asian tourists around. It’s a great option for first-timers to India as it is much calmer, a great introduction to the country.

If you’ve been to Rajasthan or other parts of North India before, then this is a great place to visit on your next trip – I often recommend it for families too due to less crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Dave with driver in India
Temple in Hassan, India

The Temples of Hassan

On arrival at the airport I met my driver Roopesh and we headed for our first stop, the cool and elevated city of Hassan (it sits at 940 metres). Located just four hours from Bangalore, three hours from Mysore and five hours to Hampi, this city is ideally located for exploring the region.

It’s renowned for temples, like Chennakeshava and Hoysaleswara, beautiful architecture and is surrounded by picturesque landscapes – such a great place to start my journey.

Cultural immersion in Mysore

The next stop on my journey was Mysore, a city full of culture. I visited temples and explored the Magnificent Mysore Palace – a treasure trove of beautiful carvings and pieces of art from all over the globe! I also made loads of time to check out the busy markets, bursting with a whole array of products, from silk sarees to sandalwood and spices.

The city has a lot of history and is often considered the cultural hub of Karnataka. It’s been a centre of art and culture for centuries, with traditional music, dance, and crafts at the fore.

Inside of Mysore palace, India

Lush landscapes of Wayanad

Wayanad, with its backdrop of rolling hills, is a beautiful place surrounded by coffee and tea plantations, just perfect for nature lovers. I visited the wildlife sanctuary here, went on a stunning nature walk, but the best part was the ancient Edakkal Caves with their Stone Age carvings, every bit worth the 300 steps to get to them.

The peaceful beauty and variety of birds made Wayanad a great escape after staying in cities. The scenery in this area is simply stunning so travelling from place to place is a joy.

Riding the rails

I took a charming one-hour steam train ride, the Toy Train, from the little hill station of Ooty through the Nilgiri Hills to Coonoor instead of the usual drive. The journey through the hills had amazing views, making for a wonderful experience. It was a unique way to see the beauty of the region at a leisurely pace, and a welcome change from sitting in the car. 

Coonoor is a good place to break up the journey with its beautiful views of tea hills. You can go on walks through the tea plantations or simply chill out in preparation for the onward journey. From here I took a four-hour train ride to Cochin. Most people on board were locals and the scenery was just stunning, a really atmospheric way to travel and interact with my fellow passengers.

Dave by Ooty sign in India
Cochin Kochi Traditional Dance

Charming Cochin

Next up, the vibrant city of Cochin. This city stands out as a melting pot of diverse cultures, with plenty of palaces, mosques, churches, and synagogues, along with glimpses of the British Raj and strong Portuguese and Dutch influences. Down by the water, the famous Chinese fishing nets provide a fascinating portal to the city’s maritime heritage. I was hooked!

Renowned as a significant seaport for gold, textiles and fish trade, the city’s historic charm is complemented by a lively spice market, still considered one of the best in Kerala. It is also a hub for Keralan dancing and arts – certainly a place not to miss on your holiday.

Life on the Keralan backwaters

The highlight of my adventure was the houseboat experience on the beautiful backwaters. With delicious meals all included, I could simply relax and watch the world go by as we cruised slowly along the river. We weaved along canals, past palm trees, sleepy villages and hidden temples. The traditional boat itself is beautiful, so intricately built and sleeping onboard was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.

If you prefer to sleep on dry land, I also visited a lovely homestay in the area. This family-run guesthouse is nestled among the rice paddies on the banks of the backwaters, and they offer tons of activities.

Houseboat India
Sunloungers on Marari Beach

Chilling by the beach

My last stop was Marari beach, a five-star experience and simply stunning. The emerald gardens, the beach, the pool and food were all outstanding – an ideal way to end my trip through South India.

If you want to follow in my footsteps, get in touch and we can start planning your adventure to India together.

Speak to David about your India plans

“After multiple unforgettable trips, I can’t wait to plan my next India holiday- there’s always somewhere new and exciting to explore! For me, nothing beats the delicious food and the colourful festivals.”

travel specialist david
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