The Best Havens of South India You Need To Visit in 2020
Sublime motorcycle ride? Check. Instagram-worthy photos? Check. Traveller’s Nirvana? Check.
South India’s landscape is still relatively undiscovered territory by the mass tourist wave, and is only now slowly opening up to international travellers. One thing is for sure: you will be mesmerized as you travel the length and breadth of South India, discovering new places that foster pristine landscapes. For those with an affinity for nature, there is no dearth of emerald mountainous slopes coupled with shimmering streams and rumbling rivers. It seems that these luscious locales harbour these paradise-esque spots for those who are curious and serious enough to get off the tourist beaten path and soak up unmolested nature.
Each of these spots has been hand-picked by Royal Brothers, and is guaranteed to give you that sense of Nirvana when you finally make it there. Public transport can only take you so far, from point A to B, and only at commercial stops. The best way to travel to all of these locations is to rent a 2-wheeler from Royal Brothers, and we’ve got a whole fleet of options at the ready. Pick your ride, get out there and explore! The NHs and SHs have been well-maintained and have quite a stark difference from what you get to experience in bustling cities with their outpouring of traffic. And all you need is basic trekking equipment and a good camera to possess those moments for posterity!
Z Point, Kemmanagundi
You’re going to feel like a hobbit from The Lord of the Rings when you trek up to Z Point. You will need to start your trek from Raj Bhavan at Kemmanagundi and head up thick forest, consistently shrouded with a cool breeze and whispers of humidity in the air. On your way to the pinnacle, you will come across the cascading waters of Shanti Waterfall that deserve a quick stop before the rest of your trek on a narrow path flanked by steep slopes that lead to a point of no return! It takes around one hour to trek from Kemmanagundi to Z Point, and can be done by even the most novice explorers.
Now we take a slight detour to Kerala, a state bountiful with nature trails. One such serene sport is Illikkal Kallu, a rock that has withstood the metamorphosis of nature over time, that salutes its own majesty. Narrow winding roads with severe hairpin turns meet you at every curve in the road all the way up to the pinnacle. Daredevils get goosebumps when meeting Kuda Kallu (hunchback rock), that is reached after crossing Hell Bridge. Sounds frightening? Well, it’s doable, with even an ounce of adrenaline. What’s the best part? Once you reach the top, you can get ample view of the Arabian Sea! Witness an Indian sunrise or spend time with the rising moon. Illukkal Kallu is approximately 60kms from Kottayam and can be reached by road.
Known as the “Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh”, it is the only South Indian destination that, on occasion, experiences a dusting of snowfall. At 1000 feet above sea-level, expect an experience unlike any other in this region of the sub-continent. Around the year, Lambasingi is blanketed with a dewy, somewhat outworldly mist. The local caretakers have busied themselves delving into the cultivation of pepper and coffee for generations; they live life on their own terms, unperturbed by the quickening of civilization elsewhere in the state. Lambasingi is bountiful with stunningly distracting nature spots, including waterfalls and the Thanjangi Reservoir. You can reach Lambasingi by riding from Visakhapatnam.
Less than 70kms from IT hub Bangalore, is a small destination that is worth the relatively short trip. If you’re looking for a weekend trek, Thimmappana Betta is the place to be. It will take someone surefooted to reach the twin rocks that perennially stand erect, through the seasons, at Ramanagara. Rainfall can create a slippery scenario, but you can always trek up the neighboring hill to view the twin rocks from a different perspective. Camping here is also made possible, though you need to take your own security measures. You won’t find a lot of foot traffic at this standalone spot in the Nilgiris, but that is all the more reason to make it to the top.
The second highest peak in South India is located in Munnar. For those who may find this difficult to pronounce, it’s also known as Idduki, for the district it is in. You can trek to Meesapulimala from Munnar. Though it would be advised to ride down, post which you can trek the rest of the way. Even before arriving at the peak, you can catch the spectacular view of the valley and other mountains that do not come close to the majesty that is Meesapulimala. From the peak, witness cascading waterfalls and the Anayirangal dam.
Silent Valley National Park
Nature parks are pockets of preserved land where the earth is allowed to flourish unperturbed. And for the adventurous, that should be a top priority before you begin to explore a certain green patch - that nature isn’t being exploited for the benefit of tourists. The ecological preservation taking place at Silent Valley is worth a long bike ride, surrounded by luscious hues of green, occasionally pierced by the call of a rare bird. Sitting pretty in God’s Own Kerala, this park is a biodiverse paradise, with a mystical past - it is believed in Hindu mythology that the Pandavas discovered a magical place where as the sun broke through the clouds. Tigers drank water with elephants and there was peace all around, because there were no humans around. Till today, endangered species call the Valley their home and most parts are kept away from the curiosity of people. You will need to make your way into the National Park through the entry gate at Sairandhri. Trekking here is a breeze and the park is a haven for anyone wanting to escape the concrete jungle that is city life. Afternoons tend to be a little hot and humid, but all in all, it is pleasurable and it is an explorer’s delight to catch glimpses of wildlife peaking through the foliage.
It isn’t widely known that India has more islands than the ones of Andaman and Nicobar. Hope Island is a smallish piece of land off the coast of Andhra Pradesh, reachable only by boat. As of 2015, flocks of flamingos came flapping onto Hope Island, after having been conspicuous by their absence for 25 years. The island is newly formed, with land that used to be where the Kakinada Bay currently is, because of deposits left by a distributary of the Godavari river. The Olive Ridley turtles come in season to lay eggs on its shores. Conservation measures are being taken to preserve the land and prevent the overflow of tourists.You cannot ride on the island, and the boat ride takes a little less than an hour. But it’s an experience that is not to be missed, if you can make the ride over to the coast.
This designated tiger reserve is home to wildlife and majestic beasts you’d be lucky to spot when here. And if you’re looking for a few days that are choc-a-block with adventurous activities, then Dandeli is the place to. It is also South India’s second largest national forest. Name it, and you can probably witness it there - from waterfalls to rivers, temples and monuments and of course, the biggest and best attraction - the reserve. You will need to spend a few days at Dandeli just to experience the length and breadth of what it has to offer. It’s a traveller’s dream to visit here and is something you cannot miss when you’re in the south.
Known as the Grand Canyon of the South, Gandikota is a selfie lover’s haven. And for the explorer, it’s an unexpected magnificent natural landscape for those that don’t mind a long trek. The river Pennar cuts through the red rocks rising from a plain. To reach here, the ride might seem a little strenuous, especially for those that are used to colder climates. There are little refreshment stops on the way from Bangalore to here, but once you’re at Gandikota, the perils of travel will soon be long forgotten. Gandikota also has its own fort, one you can drive through to reach the other side. You can even camp there, because hotels there are few and far between.