|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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
on south India