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5 off-beat places to visit in South India

For all the travelers out there looking for an authentic experience, we’ve picked out some of the best places to see in South India that need to be discovered in our offbeat travel guide. Personally, we think you only truly get to know a place by bumping into random spots and people, making it your own. Each time you return, it will be an entirely new experience! So, check out this South India Travel Guide to have a great traveling journey!


Gokarna is a small temple town located on the west coast, just 5 hours away from Goa. For a lot of Indian visitors, Gokarna is a pilgrimage town that is frequented during festivals like Shivaratri and Ganesh Chaturthi. In addition, the other set who visit this quaint destination are travelers looking for peaceful beach time.

Therefore, if you are into beach destinations, Gokarna should make it to the list of must-see destinations in this South India travel guide. Gokarna has lots of beaches for you to explore. In fact, they are all lined up together, which makes all of it super accessible. So, you can start your trek from Kudle beach and make your way across Om beach, Half Moon beach. In the end, stop by Paradise Beach. Moreover, if you are lucky, you will have the beach all to yourself with only the rare coconut seller and waves for company.


Hampi is an ancient village and the capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Moreover, it has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts travelers from all over the world because of its rich history. Hampi’s rugged terrain has temple ruins strewn across, and each one has its own story to tell. Therefore, we recommend you take a guided cycle tour around Hampi to visit them all.

Learn the history of Hampi by visiting the monuments and temples. The main ones are the Virupaksha temple, Elephant Stables, Lotus Mahal, and Anjaneya temple. Hills are scattered around Hampi. Some popular trekking destinations are Anjaneya Hill, Matunga Hill, Malyavanta Hill, and Hemakuta Hill. Matunga is at the center of Hampi and is also the highest point. It is a great place to get an aerial view of the ruins of Hampi. Hemakuta Hill is known as one of the best spots to watch the sunset or even the sunrise.


There are a number of trekking trails in Coorg. One of the best is the Brahmagiri Peak Trek, which will take you through the woods and winding hills. Remember to keep an eye out for wildlife. Other trekking trails are Tadiandamol, Kodachadri, and Kumara Parvatha. Most of the treks are of moderate difficulty, and it is best if you take a guide along with you on these treks. Keep in mind that June to August is the monsoon season and not the safest time to venture out for a trek. This is absolutely something that you must take personal note of from this South India travel guide.

Coorg is also a much-sought water sports destination. Adrenaline junkies can head out for a fun day of river rafting in the Cauvery river. The rafting grades range from 1-5, and the monsoon is the best time for this activity. It is also a great time for fishing and angling in the river. Waterfall rappelling is another activity for extreme adventure enthusiasts, and the Chelavara Waterfalls is a popular spot for this.


Located between Trichy and Madurai, Chettinad is arguably one of South India’s most culturally rich cities. Whether it’s cultural heritage, exotic food and remarkable specimens of Dravidian architecture, courtesy the grand mansions and opulent temples – Chettinad is a true delight to travellers. With a history dating back to 400 years ago, it is a delight to see a number of heritage mansions which mansions which dot the landscape of the entire region.

Shopaholics will also enjoy this beautiful place as they get to browse through many items ranging from wood carvings, Athangudi tiles, kandangi sarees, kottan baskets, gold jewellery etc. For an offbeat experience, a visit to the villages of Chettinad will offer you an interesting perspective on the culture of the region.


Marari beach is located inMararikulam, a small and sleepy fisherman’s village in the Alleppey district of Kerala. It is about 11 km from Alleppey town and 60 km from Kochi city. It is also close to Kumarakom, another popular tourist destination in Kerala.

Marari beach is not a touristy beach with a lot of facilities but rather a calm place to relax and unwind, and perhaps get a traditional Ayurvedic treatment. Those who visit Marari look forward to the slow pace of life and soaking up the serenity.

Parinita Salaria

Parinita Salaria is Co-Founder of Indus Bound. Indus Bound is an award-winning, specialist boutique travel company offering bespoke, luxury private India tours and tailor-made India holidays. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. On our last visit to India’s Golden triangle we kept on bumping in to 2 other couples. Although it was nice to see them and have a chat we kept getting the feeling that we were on something of a tourism conveyor belt.

    For our next visit to India, which sadly won’t be until 2025, we’ve made a promise to ourselves that we will strike out on our own and see some places that are off the beaten track.

  2. You make a very true point about bumping into random people and making the place your own.

    How often when you are on a tourist trail do you hear your apparently friendly waiter trotting out all the same cliches to another table of tourists that he’s just said to you?

    If you stay on the tourist trails there’s a danger that you’ll only get the same old story about the country. It is far better to be adventurous and to discover your own India.

  3. It’s really great to have the benefit of some detailed local knowledge when planning a trip.

    I’m not saying that I always follow it, after all what is travel if you can’t follow your own instincts every now and again?

    Some great ideas here to get me started on Southern India.

  4. Even though I’d never heard of it before Chettinad looks well worth visiting. I’m going for a sub-continent look to the decor in our conservatory and I could pick up some really authentic pieces there.

    1. I’d agree with your choice. Although it would be a close run thing, it’s Chettinad that I would want to visit most.

  5. I struggle with pilgrimage destinations like Gokarno. For us travellers it is a great spectacle. Then I imagine how I would feel if tourists turned up to watch me taking communion at my local parish church.

    I see faith and its celebration as something quite private. Then again by travelling to a festival perhaps some worshippers are proud to display their faith to everyone. It’s a difficult one for me.

    1. A couple of times now I’ve been in Indian towns whilst there have been festivals going on and it didn’t feel awkward at all.

      In fact I felt that the people were pleased that there was an audience to watch their celebrations.

  6. There was a time when visiting somewhere like Coorg, I would have struck out on my own along one of the trails. Over the years I’ve come to understand that you get so much more from the experience when you are with a guide. They’ll always find something to show you that you would never have seen whether it’s the small detail of a bird’s nest or an ancient elephant trail.And of course you’re always safer with a guide.

  7. We had been in the middle of planning a visit to India for next year – until we came across this. You’ve certainly stopped us in our tracks and made us think again.

    We’re going to rip up our plan and start again from scratch. It will be good to get away from the crowds sometimes by including a few of these stops.

  8. When I’m going in or out of India and I’m queuing up at the airport it sometimes strikes me that so many of the visitors are going the same thing. India is a vast country of such variety and all the visitors cram into the same parts of it. This post could be the beginnings of a book on exploring India away from the usual tourist trails.

  9. Over a very good pub lunch yesterday we were doing some blue-sky thinking on where we would all like to travel in the next couple of years – financial and family issues permitting. My partner and I had some vague ideas for India and then one of our friends sent us a link to this post which was really very helpful. I’d never heard of A Luxury Travel Blog and I sound found out that there are some really useful posts on here.

  10. India has been on my travel list for several years. The trouble was that my last girlfriend was quite a reluctant traveller and never wanted to go beyond the UK. We talked about India and other exotic places a lot and she always found excuses for never wanting to go anyway.

    Now I’m going out with a girl who lives to travel. She’s already ticked off so many places that I think we’re going to be looking at unusual places that she hasn’t been to before. Southern India could be the perfect option for us especially as she has a rule of never going back to a place for a second time.

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