…I could go on forever, my wish and desire to travel the world is insatiable. Well, now with 3 zones out of the way, what remain are West & South. So, up next, I have my picks for 19 For 2019 India: Southern Serenity.

The southern zone of India comprises of 5 states: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana; as well as the 3 union territories: Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry.

Do read on!

Lepakshi (Andhra Pradesh)

Lepakshi is a village in the Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located 15 km east of Hindupur and approximately 120 km north of Bangalore. Shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra which were built during the Vijayanagara Kings’ period (1336–1646), making Lepakshi culturally and archaeologically significant.

Although small, this small charming hamlet has a lot of historical and religious significance for the locals. Summer being the only exception, when it can become exceedingly hot, the weather in Lepakshi remains pleasant for the most part of the year.

Here are a few nearby places one must check out if visiting Lepakshi:

  • Hindupur
  • Viduraswattha
  • Nandi Hills
  • Skanda Giri

Kotagiri (Tamil Nadu)

Kotagiri is a taluk and a Town-Panchayat city, in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu; it is the 3rd largest hill station in the Nilgiri Hills. The quintessential plantation situated at an elevation of over 5,000 feet. The name ‘Kotagiri’ means ‘mountain of the Kotas’, thusly named as the Nilgiri Hills have been the traditional home of the Kota tribe. Surrounded by tea estates and beautiful green landscapes, Kotagiri offers plenty of opportunities for trekking and rock climbing. Besides trekking, there is not much to do in Kotagiri except take leisurely strolls through the tea plantations and needless to say, a visit to one of the tea factories that cater to international markets is a must.

Here are a few nearby places one must check out if visiting Kotagiri:

  • Kotanad
  • Catherine Falls
  • Elk Falls
  • Doddabetta Range
  • Longwood Shola

Gavi (Kerala)

Gavi is an eco-tourist spot in Kerala which has widely become popular after ‘Alistair International’ the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centres and one of the must-see places in India. Known for its wildlife, Gavi is preserved in its natural beauty untainted by the hands of modernity. Endangered species including the Nilgiri Tahr and the Lion-tailed macaque are often sighted at the outskirts. Kerala’s very own treasure elephants can be sighted abundantly. With more than 260 species of birds including the great pied hornbill, woodpecker, and kingfishers, Gavi is a haven for birdwatchers.

Here are a few of the activities to check out if visiting Gavi:

  • Safari
  • Boat Ride
  • Plantation visit
  • Periyar National Park
  • Sabarimala View-point

Vagamon (Kerala)

Vagamon (also spelt Wagamon) is a hill station in Idukki, Kerala. One among the few places on Earth that need to be experienced first-hand to truly discover its glory, it is still untouched by commercialisation. The sleepy town is amidst valleys, green meadows, pine forests, mists, fogs, tea estates, waterfalls and overall greenery; the landscape is mostly hilly bald with green meadows; a home to a variety of flowers and orchids. Three hills – Thangal, Murugan and Kurisumala hills – are the representation of the chief religions in Kerala, i.e. Hindu, Muslim, and Christian which represent the cultural harmony. Vagamon has amenities for trekking, paragliding, mountaineering and rock climbing.

Here are a few nearby places one must check out if visiting Vagamon:

  • Thangal Para
  • Marmala Waterfall
  • Vagamon Lake & Fall
  • Idukki Dam

Agumbe (Karnataka)

A small village, often called the Cherrapunji of South India, Agumbe is known for its scenic beauty and bio-diversity. It lies in malnad region in Shimoga(district) of Karnataka state. Agumbe is primarily infamous for two things. Firstly, it records the highest rainfall in Southern India. And secondly, for its scenic outlook and Sunset view point. Nestled on a plateau on top of Someshwara Ghat, it is located at a distance of 380 km from Bangalore. Since Agumbe is home to several rare species of medicinal plants like Garcinia, Myristica, Listsaea, Diospyrous, Hoiligarna, Eugenia and Ficus among others, it is also called ‘Hasiru Honnu’ which means ‘green is gold’. Agumbe served as the setting for India’s most popular fictional town, Malgudi in the TV series Malgudi Days (that itself was based on the eponymous book by R K Narayan). Doddamane or the Big House, which Swamy lives in, is over 100 years old and still stands proudly here. The best time to visit the place is during monsoon, when the hill station is full of sparkling streams and several waterfalls.

Here are a few nearby places one must check out if visiting Agumbe:

  • Barkana Falls Onake Abbi Falls
  • Jogigundi
  • Koodlu theertha falls
  • Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary

Papi Kondalu (Andhra Pradesh)

Papi Kondalu is a breathtakingly beautiful hill range bounded by River Godavari in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Papi hills are a set of three hills which form a beautiful gorge on the Godavari River spread across East Godavari and West Godavari districts. Entire area of Papi Kondalu is covered by tropical rain forests and it was recently declared as a protected National Park and is one of the top places to experience. The original name for this hill range was ‘Papidi Kondalu’. Papidi is a rough translation for partition in Telugu. It is believed that the place was visited by Lord Rama and goddess Sita during their exile. Apart from enjoying the view of the hills, valley and waterfalls, tourists can engage in activities like camping and trekking. There are several sights that fall on the way like Perantallapalli, Gandipochamma Temple and Pattiseema.

Here are a few nearby places one must check out if visiting Papi Kondalu:

  • Perantalapalli
  • Pattiseema
  • Papikondalu National Park.

Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu)

Sandwiched between two rivers running parallel to each other, Kumbakonam is an alluring and pleasing town. This small town is situated in the Thanjavur district of the state of Tamil Nadu with the two rivers, Cauvery and Arasalar flowing on its either sides; while Cauvery flows on the northern side of Kumbakonam, Arasalar flows on the southern side. Kumbakonam gets its name from the deity Lord Aadhi Kumbeshwarar. A traditional representation of South Indian Culture, the town is known for its temples, intricately carved panchaloha idols, exquisite brass wares especially lamps and silks. Apart from the Hindu temples, Kumbakonam has a large number of mutts as well. The mutts are the Hindu monasteries.

Here are a few nearby places one must check out if visiting Then:

  • Andipatti
  • Vaigai Dam
  • Kumbakkarai Falls
  • Mannavanur Lake
  • Kolukkumalai Tea Estate

Theni (Tamil Nadu)

Engulfed in foggy mist, the town of Theni in Tamil Nadu has started emerging as prominent tourist destination in South India. Every morning, as the fog fades, Theni transforms itself into a wonderful green carpet covering substantial parts of the lofty Western Ghats. A perfect blend of serenity, spirituality, nature and activities, Theni is sure to lure you with its vibrant and spellbinding spirit. Nestled right amid the lap of nature, when it comes to the places to visit, Theni is an absolute treasure trove. From river beds to dams, and from temples to  waterfalls —travellers in Theni will be spoilt for choice.

Here are a few nearby places one must check out if visiting Then:

  • Andipatti
  • Vaigai Dam
  • Kumbakkarai Falls
  • Mannavanur Lake
  • Kolukkumalai Tea Estate

Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh)

Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is 18 km from the port city of Kakinada, nestling on the deltaic branches of Gouthami and Godavari Rivers at Kakinada Bay. The sanctuary is a part of the Godavari estuary with an extensive mangrove and dry deciduous tropical forest; home to as many as 35 species of mangrove plants, 120 species of rare birds and innumerable species of flora and fauna. This sanctuary is famous for being home to the critically endangered white-backed vulture and long-billed vulture. It is easy to spot a sea turtle, seagull, estuarine crocodile, stork, heron among many other endangered species of fauna here.

Take a boat ride to see the country’s second largest mangrove forest when visiting Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary. Another attraction in the sanctuary is the wooden walkway installed in the middle of the mangrove with a breathtaking view of the sea intermingling with the river.

Tune in tomorrow for the next bit of ‘19 For 2019 India: Southern Serenity’. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and do follow us on Instagram.

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