SOUTH INDIA

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South India Delight

Kerala

Kerala, the land of green magic, is a narrow, fertile strip on the south-west coast of India, sandwiched between the Lakshadweep Sea and the Western Ghats. The landscape is dominated by rice fields, mango, cashew nut trees and coconut palms. The Western Ghats, with their dense tropical forests, misty peaks, extensive ridges and ravines, have sheltered Kerala from invaders, but at the same time, have encouraged maritime contact with the outside world.

Tamilnadu - State of Temple

Tamil Nadu, the cradle of south Indian temple architecture, is a living museum of styles that originated in the 7th century and matured in the huge temple complexes studded with towering gateways-"Gopurams"-that soar above the markets of almost every town. Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram, Chidambaram, Kumbakonam, Rameswaram, Palani, Srirangam, Tiruttani and Kanyakumari are some of the famous pilgrim centres in Tamil Nadu. The famous Meenakshi temple of Madurai is a must see.

Karnataka

Karnataka, the "Lofty land" is bounded by Andhra Pradesh in the east, Maharashtra in the north and Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the south. A long coastline hedged by miles and miles of tall, waving, palmgroves frames this pretty land. The majority of the Karnataka state lies on the Deccan Plateau. Bangalore is the state capital.

Karnataka boasts a diverse flora and fauna, which make it a nature tourist's paradise. The state's long and colourful history, and the many forts, temples, mosques, and churches make Karnataka a great place to explore.

Garden city Bangalore, Jog Falls,the beaches of Karwar and Malpe, Golgumbuz in Bijapur, the stone temples of Belur and Halebid, Mysore Palace, the list is endless.

Pondicherry

The Great Transformation Legend has it that the great sage Agastya came to Vedapuri, by which name the present Pondicherry was once known, only to worship Vedapuriswara, one of the oldest deities worshipped here. The deity, Lord Shiva, the presiding spirit of Vedapuri, was also known as "Agatiswara" the Lord of Agastya. Pondicherry was traditionally a seat of learning and Vedic culture. Such a tradition must have developed from the presence of a great sage in a remote past, surrounded by seekers and disciples living in his Ashram.

Pondicherry is just a speck on the map of India. Yet, men have been fascinated by this speck from time immemorial. It attracted to its shores the Romans and the Chinese. It saw the advent, rise and fall of Buddhism, the resurgence of Hinduism and the penetration of Christianity and Islam through two millennium.

Andaman & Nicobar The Emerald Islands - Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Floating in splendid isolation, east of the Indian mainland is the archipelago of 572 emerald islands, islets and rocks known as Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This union territory stretches over a length of more than 700-kms. From north to south with 36 inhabited islands. Once a hill range extending from Burma to Indonesia, these undulating islands are covered with dense forests and endless variety of exotic flora and fauna.

The topography of the islands is hilly and abounds in evergreen forests. The sandy beaches on the edge of meandering coastline are fringed with coconut palms that sway to the rhythm of the sea. The sea around the islands offers excellent scope for adventure water sports. The rare flora and fauna, underwater marine life and corals, crystal clear water and mangrove lined creeks, offer a dream view of the rare gifts of nature.

The clean roads as well as unpolluted fresh air attract any nature lover, who seeks absolute peace and tranquility in the lap of Mother Nature. Adventure tourism like trekking, island camping, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc., are the major attractions here. A visit to these islands is a memorable lifetime experience.

The Green Paradise

Forests are the green gold of the islands. The reserved and protected forests extend over 86% area of the territory and the forest cover is more than 92%. About 50% of the forests have been set aside as tribal reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which are inviolate. Luxuriant mangroves, perhaps the richest in the world, occupy nearly 11.5% of the territory. More than 150 plant and animal species are endemic to these islands. The Andaman Nicobar Islands hold over 110 species of wild orchids, which is about 10% of the known Indian orchids.

Kochi (Cochin) Queen of the Arabian Sea

Kochi (Cochin), the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala, has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Ancient mariners from Arabia, China, Holland, Britain and Portugal have all left their mark on this beautiful island city.

One of the finest natural harbours on the Arabian Sea coast, Kochi (Cochin), earlier known as Cochin has been a port of call for foreign traders from early times. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the buildings and structures representing different regions of the world. A city of peninsulas and islands, today it is Kerala's commercial hub.

Kerala's prime tourist destination, it spreads across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and Backwaters. Its main sections: modern Ernakulam in the east and the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin on a peninsula in the west are linked by a complex system of ferries.

Bangalore Bangalore - The City Of Baked Beans

The capital city of Karnataka, Bangalore, the fifth largest city in India, is the perfect blend of natural beauty and man-made marvels of architecture and technology. Blessed with a salubrious climate and dotted with beautiful parks, its tree-lined avenues, its trendy, yuppie downtown, and the software flood, Bangalore truly offers one a picture of striking contrasts.

Bangalore is fast emerging as one of the most industrialized cities in India, keeping pace with the latest trends and fashion. Bangalore is renowned, not only for its own beauty and technological advances, but also for its easy access to the marvels of the land around it. These intriguing sites of Bangalore include gardens, universities, temples and ancient ruins. The city of Bangalore also is a gateway to Southern India. Bangalore is well connected to other major cities. Today it has almost become the fastest growing city in Asia. The bazaars and shopping malls of Bangalore offer a fine selection of silks, sandal wood souvenirs, handicrafts and fragrant incense sticks. Communication is very simple in this city where people can converse in English, Kannada and Hindi with equal ease.

Bangalore -- located 1,000m above sea level is one of the most 'happening' places in India. Bangalore, which literally means the 'town of baked beans', was founded by Kempe Gowda, a chieftain of the Vijayanagar Empire, around the 16th century. He built four towers in four directions to specify its boundaries. However, Bangalore has far exceeded these limits since.

Mysore The Fragrant Sandalwood City

Located 770m above sea level and 140 Kms from Bangalore, Mysore, the imperial city, was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyars. Also known as the city of Palaces, Mysore has never failed to mesmerise the tourists with its quaint charm, rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples.

Mysore is certainly a charming, old-fashioned and undaunting town dominated by the spectacular Maharaja's Palace, around which the boulevards of the city radiate. Nearby is the city centre with the colourful and frenetic Devaraja Market is inviting a stroll.

Mysore is the erstwhile capital of Wodeyars, the rulers of Mysore State. The Wodeyar family ruled Mysore since 14th century except for a short period of 40 years when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were the rulers. Today Mysore is one of the major cities of Karnataka. Mysore has emerged as a thriving market for exotic sandalwood & incense, the Mysore silk sarees and stone-carved sculptures.

On the outskirts of Mysore, Srirangapatnam still harbours architectural gems from the days of the great Indian hero, Tipu Sultan, and the magnificent Hoysala temple of Somnathpur lies little more than an hour's drive away.

The Green Paradise

Forests are the green gold of the islands. The reserved and protected forests extend over 86% area of the territory and the forest cover is more than 92%. About 50% of the forests have been set aside as tribal reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which are inviolate. Luxuriant mangroves, perhaps the richest in the world, occupy nearly 11.5% of the territory. More than 150 plant and animal species are endemic to these islands. The Andaman Nicobar Islands hold over 110 species of wild orchids, which is about 10% of the known Indian orchids.