Around South India in 20 days.

Photo of Around South India in 20 days. by Bappaditya Bhattacharya

This circuit will take you through and familiarize you with splendid landscapes, age old traditions, cultural treasure troves, delectable cuisines and picture perfect towns.

Day 1

1) Gokarna – Gokarna translates to cow’s ear. The name originates from Mythological theories and Geographical features of the region. Originally a temple town on the coast of Arabian sea, Gokarna has managed to make its name as one of the most sought after beach destinations in India over the last few years. The cliff side beaches, the beach treks and panoramic views of the ocean make Gokarna an - destination and a must visit place for people who love beaches. Gokarna town has temples which are visited by pilgrims from all over the country. This part of town is best if you want a taste of the local traditions and culture of the place; on the other hand, the beach side of Gokarna has a completely different vibe. With shacks laid out on beaches serving mouth-watering food, it seems like the perfect destination to relax and de-stress. The first beach i.e, Gokarna beach - is frequented the most by the locals. The second beach, Kudle is the place where you start spotting the tourists. Kudle, and Om beach are preferred the most by tourists for the number of accommodation and food options they offer. Om is beach is named ‘Om’ for its shape resembles the Om symbol. Paradise and Half moon beaches are more secluded and least spoilt beaches. When in Gokarna, you can either give Surfing a chance at the Cocopelly surf school or even try Yoga or just go for joyrides with fishermen in their trawlers. The transition from being a temple town to a touristy beach town has been evident in the recent past. Gokarna is a backpacker’s paradise and a pilgrim’s delight.

Recommended Number of Days: 2n/3d

Gokarna to Udupi. Cost of travel by train : 500/- 3A Gokarna is connected to Hubli, Karwar, Madgaon, Mangalore, Ankola and Kumta by rail. (3 hours, 30 minutes.)

Stay Cost: 1500/- per night. (2 nights stay) *Tariff may vary from time to time*

Food: 1200/- per day. (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 4750/-

Credits: Sudharshan Narayanan

Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 3

2) Udupi- The second coastal town on our list is Udupi. Easily accessible from Gokarna via Mangalore, Udupi is the place you wouldn’t want to miss if beaches and lighthouses fascinate you. Once you get off at Mangalore, you can either continue to Udupi by train or can opt for cabs or state transport buses. Udupi is a nature lover’s haven for it gives travellers everything from white sand beaches to backwaters and even mangrove areas in the tributaries of different rivers that flow through the region. Udupi is also home to the word famous cuisine. When you are in Udupi, the main beaches to look out for are Kaup, Malpe and St. Mary’s Island. Kaup beach boasts of being the cleanest beach around the region along with a few beach houses plonked right on the beach the lighthouse at the end of the beach adds to the location’s charm. If you intend to stay at Kaup, you might have to stretch your budget a little for the experience. Or the other way to go about it is speaking to the villagers and pitching your tent on the beach. The beach houses charge around 3K-4K a night. Malpe beach is frequented by tourists for its clean waters. St. Mary’s island is an unique location and holds geographical importance. It is a group of four islands that come together to form St. Mary’s islands You can see hexagonal columnar basalt rock formations that have been formed due to volcanic activities ages back. You can reach St. Mary’s from Malpe beach by a ferry. Access to the islands is restricted in monsoons. Another inviting stay option is on the banks of the Kodihole river, It is easy on the pocket and does not compromise on experience too. In about under 1000 bucks, you have yourself a traditional holiday home with a great view. Apart from the beaches, Udupi gives you the opportunity to delve deep in the tropical evergreen forests of the Kudremukh National park. You can spend around one week in Udupi if you want to explore the place and its surroundings thoroughly. But to complete the circuit, we’ll limit our stay to 2 nights along the coast. For your gastronomical needs, you can try Diana, Woodlands and Udupi residency for good local food. Also, the food at Narayana Hotel and Shetty lunch home at Mangalore will leave any fish lover wanting more

Recommended Number of Days: 2n/3d

Udupi to Ernakulam - Cost of travel by train : 790/- 3A (8-10 hours)

Stay Cost: 900/- per night. *Tariff may vary from time to time*

Food: 1000/- per day for soul satisfying meals (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 4590/-

Kaup Beach. Credits:Vivek Raj.

Photo of Udupi, Karnataka, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 5

3) Cochin - Almost six centuries ago, after the floods of the Periyar river in 1341, Kochi emerged as an ancient port city on the west coast. The merchants of Kochi began trade with traders from Holland, Portugal, China and the British. Portugal was the first of these countries to set up base at Kochi. Since then, Kochi came to be known as the gateway to Kerala. Flanked by the Arabian Sea on the West and the Western Ghats on the East, Kochi is a wonderful place to spend time checking out local attractions before setting off to explore the serene backwaters and the lush green hills of Kerala. Mattancheryy palace, St. Francis church, the Pardesi synagogue, Jew street and Chinese fishing nets are some of the local attractions with links to the past. A private room in Kochi will set you back anywhere between 800 INR – 1500 INR per night. So book in advance to get the best deals. There are plenty of cafes in Kochi to choose from with good ambience and food and a variety of cuisines. Fresh choice at Fort Kochi serves delicious local food.

Recommended Number of Days: 2n/3d

Cochin to Munnar - Cost of travel by bus : 400/- ( 3 hours, 30 minutes)

Stay Cost: 1000/- per night. *Tariff may vary from time to time*

Food: 1200/- per day (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 4800/-

Cochin. Credits: Ryan

Photo of Cochin, Kerala, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 7

4) Munnar - At 6000 ft ASL, set in the Idukki distrtict, Munnar greets you with a pleasant climate, winding roads and sprawling tea estates. It has emerged as one of the most famous hill stations in the whole of South India. Blessed with wildlife sanctuaries, tea plantations, lush green valleys shrouded in mist, numerous waterfalls and picnic spots; Munnar is guaranteed to leave you spellbound. Munnar is a 4 hour’s drive away from Kochi. The sight of vast expanse of tea plantations makes you realise that you have arrived at Munnar. Be it enjoying the rejuvenating views with a hot cup of tea and some soulful music, or hiking and camping out in the leech infested forests, Munnar offers a variety of travel experiences.

What to see: Mattupety lake, Rose garden, Christ church, Echo Point, Eravikulam National park.

Where to stay: Staying at the Lokkom Log house within the Eravikulam National Park might be a nice option considering the seclusion and solitude of the the wilderness. If you wish to spend more time near the main city, Highland orchids and Munnar queen are good options to choose from. There is no dearth of accommodation in Munnar. You can find hotels for all kinds of budgets in this quaint hill station.

Where to eat: If you’re a fan of street foods, the food stalls on the roadsides would make you drool with their piping hot idlis, Dosas, Appams, and beef fry with paratha. Munnar takes care of your mid night hunger pangs too. Thattu Kada, a restaurant kown for its amazing décor and of-course the lipsmacking delicacies opens at 6 P.M and remains open till 1 A.M. Other restaurants that must be on your list are the Sarvana Bhavana, Rapsy restaurant and the treetop restaurant.

Recommended Number of Days: 2n/3d

Munnar to Kodaikanal by bus - Cost of travel by bus : 850/- ( 4 hours, 30)

Stay Cost: Rooms start at 1500/- per night. *Tariff may vary from time to time*

Food: 1200/- per day (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 6250/-

Tea estates at Munnar

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 9

5) Kodaikanal – A 160 K.M bus ride from Munnar takes us to our next destination - the hill-station of Kodaikanal. Pleasant climate, scenic natural vistas and numerous waterfalls are what draw travellers to this quaint hill station. One of the reasons to include Kodai in the circuit is because it is relatively less crowded as compared to its counterparts, Ooty and Conoor. Another place worth visiting, rather worth spending a night at is Vattakanal. It is 30 KMs from Kodai and is known as the hip part of Kodaikanal. Evergreen meadows, dense pine forest, lofty hills and the mist in the air makes Vattakanal a traveller’s delight. There is no dearth of accommodation here. You can find lovely places to stay at just 400 INR per head. Incaase you run out of luck, and all rooms are booked, do visit the IPC church in Vattakanal. They charge around 200 bucks per head and allow you to spend the night in their dorm.

The golden hours at Vattakanal are something, you CANNOT miss.

What to see: Berijam lake, Kodaikanal Lake, Guna Caves, Pillar Rocks, Silver Cascade Falls, Palani Falls, Vattakanal Viewpoint, Kodailkanal Solar Observatory, Thalaiyar Falls, Dolphin’s nose, Upper Lake view, Pine forest, Perumal Peak.

Where to stay: Altaf’s café, Edwin’s, RC guest house, Jennova’s cottage. Out of 3 nights make sure to spend atleast 2 nights in Vattakanal

Recommended Number of Days: 3n/4d

Kodai to Madurai by train: 140/- SL (45 mins)

Madurai to Rameshwaram train: 40/- Gn (3 hours, 40)

Stay Cost: Rooms start at 700/- per night. *Tariff may vary from time to time*

Food: 800/- per day or less, depends where you choose to eat. (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 4680 /-

Vattakanal. Credits: Vaibhav Joshi

Photo of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 12

6) Rameshwaram: We break the journey at Rameshwaram and continue towards Dhanushkodi the next day. Rameshwaram is a temple town with a few beaches. You can visit the pamban island on your day of arrival.The Pamban bridge connects Rameshwaram to the Indian Mainland.

Recommended number of days: 1n/2d

Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi: Bus: 150/-, Private Jeep: 2500, Shared Jeep: 300 per head (22 mins)

Stay: Rooms start at 700/- per night.

Food: 800/- per day or less, depends where you choose to eat. (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 1750 /-

Day 13

7) Dhanushkodi: A 20 K.M bus ride from Rameshwaram takes you to Dhanushkodi, the last strip of land of the along the southern coast of India. Dhanushkodi is a place where time stands still. It was once a quaint coastal village before a cyclone wiped out the entire population and leaving the village in ruins. Once you reach Dhanushkodi, you can spot ruins of the church, post office and a railway bridge on the beach. Dhanushkodi is also known for the famous Rama setu or Adam’s bridge. What comes as a surprise is there are freshwater wells on the beach which is potable. These wells are the source of water for the villagers here. Entry to Dhanushkodi is restricted post 6 P.M. After spending a while on the beach, we head back to Rameshwaram to board a train to Cuddalore, the nearest railhead (No direct trains from Rameshwaram to Pondicherry) to our next destination, Puducherry.

Dhanushkodi to Rameshwaram: Bus: 150/-, Private Jeep: 2500, Shared Jeep: 300 per head (22 minutes)

Stay: It is advisable to rent out a room at Rameshwaram once you get back from Dhanushkodi for resting up and refreshments.

Food: 800/-per day

Rameshwaram to Cuddalore by train: It would make more sense to take The Rameshwaram Manduadih Express since it reaches Cuddalore at a more convenient time. The train departs Rameshwaram at 11 PM and arrives at Cuddalore at 8:30 AM. Train cost: 1000/- 3A (9 hours)

Taxi from Cuddalore to Pondicherry: 500/- (20 minutes)

Total cost: 3250/-

Dhanuskodi beach. Credits: Chandra

Photo of Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya

Ruins still stand today on the beach. Credits: Chandra

Photo of Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 14

8) Puducherry: A 22 K.M drive From Cuddalore station takes you to the union territory of Puducherry or Pondy as fondly nicknamed by the visitors. Life moves at its own pace in Pondicherry. With beautiful little cafes scattered around white town, Pondy is the place where you can afford to go off-routine and let go a little. Tree lined streets, quiet beaches, backwaters, and a French connection that is visible in the architecture are some of the things that add charm to Pondicherry. Pondy is also known for its Doll-making, textiles and silk. Shopping here is easy on the pockets as there is low to no tax. Pondy is home to many boutique and designer brands. Travel and leisure wise, Pondicherry is a complete experience in itself. Do plan your journey in a way that you don’t end up here on a weekend. There are a LOT of people and if you do visit on a weekend, get your stay booked well in advance.

What to see: Promenade beach, Aurovile, Lighthouse, Serenity beach, Paradise beach, Pichavaram mangroves.

Where to stay: Sarvamangalam inn, Ramana Residency, Executive Inn, Bay View Hotel, Pondicherry guest house, Velvett Villa, Coramandal Residence, Raj residency, Auroville.

Where to eat: Seagulls, Tantos, Rendezvous café, Surguru Restaurant (Classic lip-smacking local food) Sarvana Bhavan, La Villa, Umami Kitchen.

Recommended number of days: 3n/4d

Pondicherry to Chennai train – 140/- (4 hours)

Chennai to Hospet bus – 1200/- (12 hours)

Stay: Rooms start at 1000/- per night.

Food: 1200/- per day or less, depends where you choose to eat. (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 7940/-

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya

Make most of the Moonrises while on the east coast

Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 18

9) Hampi: Also known as the boulder city or city of ruins, Hampi is an ancient town in Karnataka. The town is dotted with Numerous temple ruins, ruins of palaces, structures, pavilions and bastions from the pre Vijayanagara and the Vijayanagara period. The sight of these ruins is spell-bounding and makes Hampi a photographer’s delight. These monuments represent an historical era of art and culture. If seeing a Jaw-dropping sunset is still on your list, Hampi will check that off your bucket list for you. Virupaksha temple and Matanga Hill are two of the best points to catch the sundown from. Sanapur lake and Tungabhadra river are the places you’d want to go for a coracle ride. The geological terrain of Hampi is something that will catch your interest. This is where the name boulder city came from. Rich in history, culture and natural beauty, Hampi gives both pilgrims and backpackers a reason to visit this UNESCO world heritage site.

What to do: Temple hopping, watch Sunset when everything changes to orange and golden, Hampi Night tour, Coracle ride, cycling around the village if that is something you fancy, marvel at the vast green paddy fields and the perfectly placed boulders, make sure to catch the sunset jam at sunset point on hippie island (the fun part of Hampi)

Where to stay: Waterfall guest house, Shanti guest house, K.C. guest house, Mowgli guest house, The goan corner, sunny guest house, Ravi Teja guest house, Uma Shankar guest house.

Where to eat: Laughing Buddha, Hampi rooftop restaurant, Benjamin Live music café, The chill out, Gopi Island.

Recommended number of days: 4n/5d

Hampi to Bangalore bus – 1200/- (14 hours)

Stay: Rooms start at 800/- per night. (Make bookings well in advance or you may not find a good deal in accommodation)

Food: 1200/- per day or less, depends where you choose to eat. (Breakfast-lunch-dinner; without alcohol)

Total Cost: 9200/-

Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Photo of Hampi, Karnataka, India by Bappaditya Bhattacharya
Day 22

10) Bengaluru: Arrival in bengaluru marks the end of the circuit, you can choose to head home from here or spare a day to checkout the local attractions, pubs and bars.

Total days: 20 nights/21 days

Total Hours spent in travel: 64 hours approx.

Total Money spent: 48,000/-

*Note* You can save a bomb by simply choosing to travel sleeper class, by planning your accommodation wisely and Choosing local food over the general kind of food that you can find in your own city.

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