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Last updated : Nov 2009
South India
South India - TravelPuppy.com
The south is the area of India least affected by incursions of foreign cultures over the centuries. This is where Indian legacy has survived in its purest form.

Chennai

The capital of the region is Chennai (previously Madras), India’s fourth-largest city and capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. Chennai is the cradle of ancient Dravidian civilization, among the oldest cultures in the world. It is also home of classical Indian dancing and is a note worthy center of temple sculpture art. Covering over 130 sq km (50 sq miles), the metropolis only has a few tall buildings and enjoys the relaxed vibe of a market town rather than the fast pace of a huge city.

From Chennai Lighthouse there is a great the city that includes numerous churches, which highlight the city’s strong Christian influence, first introduced in AD 78 at the time apostle St Thomas was martyred here.

Chennai, however, is mainly a commercial city and the center of the area’s rail, air and road networks, and is an ideal starting point from which to explore the south.

Tamil Nadu

There are are several significant religious centers within the state, notably Kanchipuram, which has many temples, and whose striking gopurams, or gateways, are adorned with sculptures of gods and goddesses.

Inland is Madurai, with a large temple, and Thanjavur. Also worth a visit is Tiruchirappalli, with it's fortress, constructed on top of a strange boulder-shaped hill that dominates the town.

Heading south along the coast, is Pondicherry, a charming french style town and beyond, Rameswaram, which at one time was the ferry link to Sri Lanka.

Kerala

To the west sits the state of Kerala, this is where many of India’s major coastal resorts can be found. Among the finest is Kovalam, with beautiful beaches and increasingly modern amenities, including luxury bungalows and numerous hotels (some including a swimming pool).

A few miles away is Trivandrum, the state capital, and home of the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Inland is the Periyar Game Sanctuary, which has an interesting variety of wildlife. Other famous resorts include Cranganorre, Kochi and Alleppey.

Karnataka

Further north is the state of Karnataka, which has fine, untouched beaches at Karwar, Udupi and Mahe. The state’s capital is Bangalore, a prosperous city which is the hub of electronics and engineering industries, but also has many charming parks and gardens.

To the southwest lies Mysore, where incense is made. Karnataka has numerous important historical and religious sites, including the ruins at Hampi north of Bangalore, and the huge statue of Lord Bahubali at Sravanabelagola, north of Mysore.

Andhra Pradesh

East of Karnataka lies the state of Andhra Pradesh, with its capital at Hyderabad, which has a well-stocked one-man museum. Visakhapatnam, the fourth-largest port, is located 220km (350 miles) to the east.

Andaman Islands

Far away heading east across the Bay of Bengal are the Andaman Islands, a lushly forested archipelago with exotic plant life and a huge variety of tropical fish and corals, making it a popular destination for snorkeling enthusiasts.

The islands' capital, Port Blair, can be reached via Chennai and Kolkata (Calcutta) by air or boat. The islands are subject to special entry restrictions and a Restricted Area Permit may be a requirement; see the Passport/Visa section for details.
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