‘Travelling is good’, why you ask? Well, for starters, you get the utmost pleasure and confidence in interacting with new people, it broadens your mind and you see your surroundings in a whole new way. However, these are just part of one dimension; another can be purely educational. Travel and Education are two wonderful aspects that both blend well together, especially if you enjoy walking amidst yesteryears of glory. India is one such place due to its rich diversity and immense culture. So let’s dive in and explore these 25 tourist cum educational places to visit in South India.
1. Hampi, Karnataka
A constant attraction in southern India, Hampi is a UNESCO heritage site that brilliantly displays detailed carvings in rocks. It is a great place that has always been captivating travellers for years because of its historical importance, temples, and sculptures. Forts such as the Pampapathi temple are one of the oldest functioning temples. Hampi is one place that has a perfect blend of sightseeing with educational takeaways.
2. Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
A scenic coastal town of Tamil Nadu, Mahabalipuram is a beautiful destination to explore and cherish through its calming ambience. Besides its beauty, Mahabalipuram is also one of the best places to visit for educational tours. This place is popular for its Dravidian architectural style as well as marine life. The Vedathangal Bird Sanctuary is one of the best in India.
3. Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
Located on the southern banks of river Vaigai in Tamil Nadu, Meenakshi Temple is dedicated to Parvati and her consort, Lord Shiva. Also called Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, this architectural wonder is a popular centre of culture and art.
The present structure, built between 1623 and 1655 CE, was on the list of top 30 nominees for the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” The halls, gopurams, and the shrines of the temple present a grand appearance. Two very distinct features are the shrine of Meenakshi holding a parrot and the right raised leg of Nataraja.
4. Bannerghatta Biological Park, Karnataka
Bannerghatta is a popular tourist destination located near Bangalore. It is a biological park that is considered to be a small haven for nature lovers. It is an ideal place to bring children to teach them about biodiversity and how to conserve it for the future generation. And to make the visit more fun, Bannerghatta Biological Park also has a mini zoo and an animal rescue center. It is here you can witness beautiful species of lions, which are rarely found in India.
5. Tipu’s Gumbaz, Karnataka
Located in Srirangapatnamm, Tombs of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan is a site worth visiting. Built-in 1784 AD by Tipu Sultan for his parents, it was also his burial ground in 1799 AD. With a height of about 20 meters, this structure stands majestically tall. Along with being historically important, these tombs also boast excellent architecture. The architecture, which looks similar to that of the Golconda tomb, captivates every visitor with its intricate design and majestic structure.
6. Bekal Fort, Kerala
Built almost 300 years ago, Bekal Fort is considered one of the largest and most preserved forts in Kerala. The fort stands in its full glory and grandeur while narrating a story of its past. Bekal Fort is a historic fort surrounded by a beautiful beach offering a mesmerizing view of the Arabian Sea from its high observation tower where once the cannons were placed. The location has been a witness to footnotes of history, with changing several seats of power from Indian royal dynasties to the rule of refined Sultans and surviving the colonial era of the British Empire. It is the largest fort in Kerala, spreading over an area of 40 acres.
7. Kalady, Kerala
Kalady is a pre-eminent center for inspiration on the banks of the Puma River that purifies every man in thought, word, and deed. A visit to Kalady increases tranquillity, self-restraint, and other eminent virtues of those engaged in the pursuit of knowledge. It is believed that it is the duty of every common man to visit Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sankara, and more so any aspirant for liberation and those who follow the Advaita school of thought.
8. Paradesi Synagogue, Kerala
A very famous Pardesi Synagogue in Kochi, also known as Jew Synagogue and Mattancherry Synagogue is the oldest existing synagogue amongst all the Commonwealth countries. It was built in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudan People or Cochin Jewish community on land which was gifted by Raja Varma to the Malabari Yehuden community. Fort Kochi is known for its foreign roots dating back to the pre-independence period, which is evident from the structure of the buildings here.
9. Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
One of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage areas of south India, Rameshwaram is known for its beautiful Ramanathswamy Temple. With the longest corridor in the world, the Ramanathswamy Temple is believed to be the place where Rama begged for penance after having killed Ravana. There are numerous wildlife sanctuaries located nearby namely, Water Bird Sanctuary and the Rameshwaram Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
10. Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Thanjavur is just as popular for its temples, arts, and handicrafts as it is known for its paintings and rich history. Believed to have been named after Tanjan, an asura/demon, who was killed by Vishnu, Thanjavur became prominent as the capital of the mighty Cholas between the 11th and 14th centuries when they constructed several temples and developed it as an important center of art and culture. The Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary is also located in Thanjavur.
11. Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh
Kurnool has several sites of historical importance. From the caves to the rivers, the town literally has something for everyone to take away and cherish. The longest cave system, Belur caves is one of the biggest attractions around here. With three well-like cavities, a huge Buddha statue, and a natural waterfall, the cave is a beautiful sight.
12. Arikamedu, Pondicherry
Arikamedu, an archaeological site in Kakkayanthope, Puducherry will give you a glimpse of Roman culture. It was once a major Chola port dedicated to bead making and trading with Roman traders and was believed to be the only town to have ties with Rome. The famous Auroville ashram is also situated in Pondicherry.
13. Mysuru Zoo, Karnataka
Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, popularly known as ‘Mysuru Zoo’, is one of the oldest zoos in the country. It was established in 1892 by the king of Mysuru, Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur. Mysuru Zoo has gradually grown into a tourist center, imparting various wildlife values. It has got 125 years of history exhibiting wild animals in the near-natural surroundings. Despite the majority of the zoos being shifted from the original place to the new places, Mysuru Zoo managed to modernize the zoo, without shifting the actual zoo.
14. Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Situated at the tip of the Indian Peninsula, Kanyakumari is the southernmost point of the Indian mainland. Kanyakumari is located near the Western Ghats and bordered by the Lakshadweep Sea at the southwest, southeast, and south of the city. Kanyakumari has been one of the major centers of arts, culture, and religion since ancient times. Some of the major attractions are the Vivekananda Rock, Thiruvallavur Statue, and Pabmanabhapuram Palace.
15. St. Augustine Tower/ Church of St. Augustine
The Church and Monastery of Augustine are situated in Old Goa. This place is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in 1572 by 12 Augustines when they arrived in Goa. A ban was imposed by the Portuguese government against the Augustines. The church and the convent, thereafter, were deserted. Today most of the remaining buildings and churches are maintained by the Archeological Survey of India and the church services are maintained by the Archdiocese of Goa.
16. Thekkady, Kerala
Thekkady in Kerala is one of India’s largest wildlife sanctuary. The 120 years old ‘Surki’ dam built across Periyar, Poorna in the Vedic parlance, is a major site in South India. This sanctuary is spread over an area of 777 sq. Kms, surrounded by an artificial lake over an area of 25 Sq.Kms. The Country’s sole Tiger reserve, Thekkady, with its plethora of treasures of tropical flora and fauna is the ultimate sanctum of many an endangered species and also holds up a rich tribal culture.
17. Mattancherry Palace, Kerala
Mattancherry Palace is one of the oldest examples of Portuguese architecture and is unique from a historical and architectural point of view. The palace was built around 1545 AD by the Portuguese and presented to Veera Kerala Varma in order to pacify him and to compensate for having plundered a temple in the vicinity of the place. It underwent major repairs at the hands of the Dutch and hence the palace is also known as “Dutch Palace.” Mattancherry is also known for its spice markets and Dutch buildings.
18. Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
Considered the religious capital of South India, the city of thousand temples has a lot to offer. The brilliant architectural skills exhibited in the temples in Kanchipuram stand proof for the dominance of Dravidian heritage and the city’s glorious past when it was ruled by kings who loved and respected arts. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silk saris. The Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary located nearby is a treat for nature lovers.
19. Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh
It is one of the important heritage sites in Andhra Pradesh which highlights the legacy of the Vijayanagara Dynasty. Lepakshi was founded in the 16th century during the reign of the Vijayanagara king, Aliya Rama Raya. It is the center of some of the finest temple architecture and paintings. Lepakshi consists of three important shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Veerabhadra.
20. Silent Valley, Kerala
The core of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the Silent Valley National Park is probably one of the most magnificent gifts of nature to mankind, a unique reserve of tropical rainforests in its glory with a rich ecological history. Silent Valley is closed on all sides with high and continuous ridges and steep escarpments, as a result, the valley is shielded from the extremes of climate as well as anthropogenic interventions and remains an ecological island with its own special microclimate.
21. Pattadakal, Karnataka
Pattadakal, in Karnataka, represents the height of eclectic art which, in the 7th and 8th centuries under the Chalukya dynasty, achieved a perfect blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India. An impressive series of nine Hindu temples, as well as a Jain sanctuary, can be seen here. One masterpiece from the group stands out – the Temple of Virupaksha, built c. 740 by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory over the kings from the South.
22. Badami, Karnataka
The modern Indian state of Karnataka is a land of many wonders. Lovers of nature and connoisseurs of history flock to the cities, towns, and verdant ranges of the state to immerse themselves in its beauty and culture. Some of the famous sites in Badami date back in time and tell stories of the kingdoms and rulers that called this region home. One of the most influential dynasties that ruled the region, the Chalukyas were the predominant force between the 6th and 12th centuries and have contributed greatly to the legacy of the place.
23. St. Thomas Mount, Chennai
St Thomas Mount is a Holy place of international prominence, historical eminence, religious glory, and tourist attraction. The ancient Church on the top of St. Thomas Mount has served as the lighthouse for the Portuguese and Armenian ships and vessels in the Bay of Bengal in the 16th and 17th centuries.
24. Edakkal Caves, Kerala
Edakkal is the only known place in India with Stone Age carvings. You can see carvings belonging to the Neolithic and Mesolithic ages here. Along with these pictorial carvings, you can also watch Tamil and Brahmi Script in Edakkal caves. Edakkal is said to have some links with Indus Valley Civilization too. Numerous signs were discovered recently, which had shown its relationship with the ancient civilization. The area around this region is filled with amazing flora and fauna which includes numerous places like the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and Phantom Rock.
25. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
The origin of the Temple of Sree Padmanabhaswamy is lost in the olden age. It is not possible to determine exactly, from any reliable historical documents or other sources as to when and by whom the original idol of Sree Padmanabhaswamy was consecrated. The Temple has references in Epics and Puranas. Some well-known scholars, writers, and historians, like the late Dr. L. A. Ravi Varma of Travancore, have expressed the view that this Temple was established on the first day of Kali Yuga. The legends of the temple are handed down through the centuries.
Take your time out to explore and learn more about places as and when you can. It’s a productive way to learn as learning from experiences goes beyond regular bookish knowledge. Make travelling productive while having fun and visiting new places. You might develop a clear idea of what career you wish to pursue after learning about new places, their rich historical importance, and background. To further solidify your idea and put them into action, take up dSAT and you will be able to structuralize how you can go about creating a future of your choice.