Travel to Southern India

Southern India Southern India Southern India Southern India Southern India
Southern India

Southern India is different -  in texture, taste, sound, scent and color. Everything is richer, yet more simple. It is traditional and seeped in a quiet heritage that has remained unaffected despite a very ancient trade and contact with the Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans and Chinese. Kerala has become a popular travel destination due to its unique and charming heritage, and the beauty of the Backwaters.  You cannot but help appreciate the extraordinary richness of the region, with its changing landscape of the high plateau, the forested hills and coastal villages, the lush green fields, the surreal beauty of the backwaters, the long stretches of beach and coconut palm and bamboo plantations.

The best times to visit are between mid September to March, avoiding the monsoons from June to early September.

Goa  Since the hippies discovered Goa, this beach haven has attracted tourists from all over the world. On one side there is the mesmerizing coastline, on the other the rolling hills. The Goa carnival, a three-day event in February, is a lively tribute to the laid back Goan way of life. Anjuna, Calangute, Baga and Morjim are the popular beaches and these are major tourist hubs. The Goa flea markets are a shopper’s delight.

Kochi Known as the “Gateway to Kerala”, Kochi, or Cochin, is an enchanting city that’s had an eclectic influence. The Arabs, British, Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese have all left their mark on the city. The Chinese fishing nets that line the waterfront are iconic. Fort Kochi is full of architecture and historical sites, and is a marvelous place to stroll around and explore on foot. You can also catch a Kathakali dance performance and get an ayurvedic treatment.

The Backwaters is a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 600 miles of waterways, explored by houseboats.  Reminiscent of the Bayou.

Periyar the land of the spices, sought by Columbus. The winding route to Periyar through tea and rubber plantations is highly scenic.  Eco-retreats, ayurvedic spas and resorts dot the hillsides of Thekaddy and provide relaxing getaways.  Nature walks in the Periyar National Park are a popular activity. 

Varkala and Kovalam  Which is the better Southern Indian beach resort is a hot debate topic. All would agree:, if Goa has become too busy for your liking, head further south and you’ll find serenity.

Indira Point  The southern-most tip of India, at Kanyakumari, almost a hop, skip and jump across to Sri Lanka.

Mark Twain said:  “India is the cradle of human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most astrictive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only! “
The initial draw of India is its antiquities. An advanced civilization, by 500 BC the whole of northern India had knowledge of iron implements. Walled cities and forts have been carefully preserved for centuries and engage those interested in history, design or architecture.
Modern India is mesmerizing. The well orchestrated chaos of Delhi traffic contrasts delightfully with the graceful navigation of houseboats on the Kerala backwaters.  Traditional foods have given birth to nouvelle cuisine that tantalize both the eyes and the palate. The Indian wine industry is powering, and sommeliers the world over are taking note. The shopping is to die for.
India is a third the size of the US but exhibits a wide range of topography. From the mountains of the north to the tropical beaches of the south, India has it all.
With one foot in Asia and one foot in the West, India caters to all travelers. Masala tea or espresso,  parathas or bagels, tuk tuk or taxi – its your choice how deeply you immerse yourself in this magical culture.

People

India is the world’s second most populous nation, after China. Its ethnic composition is complex, but two major strains predominate: the Aryan, in the north, and the Dravidian, in the south. India is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

 

Language

India is a land of great cultural diversity, as is evidenced by the enormous number of different languages spoken throughout the country. Hindi and English are the official languages, and more than 1,500 languages and dialects are spoken. The Indian constitution recognizes 15 regional languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu).

History

The History of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization in Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, and Lothal, and the coming of the Aryans. These two phases are usually described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic periods. It is in the Vedic period that Hinduism first arose: this is the time to which the Vedas are dated.

In the fifth century, large parts of India were united under Ashoka. He also converted to Buddhism, and it is in his reign that Buddhism spread to other parts of Asia. It is in the reign of the Mauryas that Hinduism took the shape that it has today.

Islam first came to India in the eighth century, and by the 11th century had firmly established itself in India as a political force; the North Indian dynasties of the Lodhis, Tughlaqs, and numerous others, whose remains are visible in Delhi and scattered elsewhere around North India, were finally succeeded by the Mughal empire, under which India once again achieved a large measure of political unity.

The European presence in India dates to the seventeenth century and it is in the latter part of this century that the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate, paving the way for regional states. In the contest for supremacy, the English emerged ‘victors’, their rule marked by the conquests at the battlefields of Plassey and Buxar.

The Rebellion of 1857-58, which sought to restore Indian supremacy, was crushed; and with the subsequent crowning of Victoria as Empress of India, the incorporation of India into the empire was complete. Successive campaigns had the effect of driving the British out of India in 1947.

Currency

The currency used in India is the rupee, which is divided into 100 paise.

Rupees are available in the following denominations: Coins: 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 paise and Rs 1, 2, and 5.
Notes: Rs 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000.
One lakh is Rs 100,000, written 1,00,000. One crore is Rs 10,000,000, written 1,00,00,000.

Weather

The best time to visit most of the country is during the cool, dry season, between November and April. The heat of the south is never less than intense but it becomes uncomfortable in May and June. From this time onwards, the Himalayas grow more accessible, and the trekking season reaches its peak in August through October while the rest of the subcontinent is experiencing the rains.

Health Requirements

There is no risk of yellow fever in India. The government of India requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever, which does not include the US.


Please talk to your travel clinic doctor about how to prevent malaria while traveling. You may prefer to take prescription medicine to prevent malaria, especially if you are visiting low-altitude areas. Malaria medication is not required.

Visa Requirements

US citizens are eligible for an e-Tourist Visa if the sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit etc. and no other purpose/ activity.


Current cost is 60usd.


The link to the eVisa application is:
https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

Tipping & Porterage

Tipping is expected and appreciated. a porter who carries your bags to the room a 50-100 Rupee tip is fine. A similar amount is OK for the people who come and clean your room. But be alert to the ‘scam’(although it is very small time and more amusing than annoying in most cases) where the items you require appear one by one by one (towels, toilet paper etc), with each trip from the room staff (supposedly) warranting another tip! For this reason please do not over tip.

In restaurants work on 10% of the total bill as a reasonable tip- there is no set amount as is the case in other countries.

At the end of your trip (or each sector) it is customary to tip your driver. As a suggestion, 500-1000 rupees per day is a reasonable tip for the driver, but the amount is totally up to you. (This is from the whole party, not per person). This is just a general guideline for you as there is no set amount to specify. It is purely your decision depending up on your driver’s service to you, willingness shown to you during the tour to go the extra mile in serving you.

For guides, a tip of 200-500 rupees at the conclusion of the service is reasonable, although the higher end of the scale should only apply if you feel they have done a particularly good job.

Credit Cards

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, American Express less so.  Cash is needed for shopping at street markets.  ATMs are easy to locate in major towns and cities.

Electrical Appliances

India plug type:  C, D, M

Residential voltage: 230 V

Frequency:  50 Hz

Water

Bottled water is recommended for drinking, and is widely available.


Related Destinations

Northern India
Southern India

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Southern India

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