Cape Comorin or Kanya Kumari would be the first name to hit in mind when you think of south. But there are lot more hidden tourist spots to explore in the tip of the country. The Deccan Plateau also referred to as South India is the peninsula of the Nation. Surrounded by the vast deep sea on the three sides. This piece of land has hidden most of its beauty in the villages and forests. The point where the Western and Eastern Ghats converge is a land of wonder. In this adventure, Top10Khoj invites you to explore the unexplored places. Destinations that you won’t find easily in the maps, made easy for you with our own personal route. Hope you enjoy the ride and have a breathtaking experience. Here are the Top 10 hidden tourist spots in South India.
10. Kolli Hills
Kolli hills located in Namakkal district of Tamilnadu is a part of the Eastern Ghats range. A 6-hours journey by train or bus from Chennai can take you there. If you wish to escape the busy world and enjoy your days in a natural environment in peace, then this is the best spot. And if you need to skip your social media addiction, then this place can help you as the only available network is BSNL and that too has coverage only in few areas.
Other than being an important site of religion, culture and literary, it’s also one of the favorite trekking spots for the neighborhood. The 2-hour trek downstairs to Agaya Gangai (Sky Ganga) is so steep (be sure to take caution). But it’s all worth when you reach the destination.
Save some energy to climb back and don’t forget to boost up with a hot cup of Mudavattukal Kilangu (Goat Leg Tuber) soup which is 100% vegetarian. The jackfruit here has a rich unique taste and you can get fresh and rare vegetables and flowers.
9. Thalayar – Rat Tail Falls
A 4-hours’ drive from Kolli will take you our next dreamland. Situated in the district of Dindugal this place gets its name due to the steep narrow downstream. It is the highest waterfall of TamilNadu measuring 975 ft in total height. Being a single drop horsetail type waterfall it stands 267th in world level and 6th in India in terms of height.
As an added advantage of its height, it can be clearly visible even from 3.6 KMs away!!! The trip to the top of the falls is not that easy as there no roads, but the trek is worth giving a shot. At the top, there is a concrete wall and beneath that is a meter-wide flat rock from which you can see the bottom of the falls continuing to flow as a narrow river, which is the ultimate thrill. But be cautious as its dangerous to slip from such a height. To access this place one has to start hiking from the Manjalar reservoir. The bottom of the falls is also thrilling but it’s a one-day trek downstream covering totally 15kms. We would cover the amazing waterfalls of India in upcoming articles. Stay tuned.
Within three hours from Thalayar, you can reach Kurangani. This place is definitely an attraction for nature lovers. The natural geography of the western ghats is the reason for its beauty. Located near Bodinayakanur town in Theni district it’s the best pit stop for a long nature walk. The world’s highest tea plantations Munnar and Kolukkumalai are its sister hills.
Whether it be the surprisingly changing weather or the low altitude clouds that gently smooches you; be it the rare wildflowers or the big cats and deer, one way or other, you will find a reason to fall in love with this place. This location serves as an amazing shooting spot. The famous ‘Kumki’ and ‘Myna’ films were shot nearby. This place was recently all over the news due to the forest fire. The best season would be from August to December and it’s better to always take a local guide with you. Wait for our detailed post on the beauty of Western Ghats to know more.
The name could be split as then – meaning honey, and malai – meaning mountain. You can’t miss this tourist spot on your visit down-south. You can plan a road trip enjoying the beautiful view of ‘Kumbum’, ‘Kumily’ towns of Tamilnadu and ‘Pathanamthitta’ town of Kerala cutting through the curvy hill roads and hit ‘Punalur’ before reaching Thenmala in Kollam district. Being an important shooting spot for both the states of Kerala and Tamilnadu. This place is a prime attraction for both foreign and domestic tourists.
It is the first planned eco-tourism spot of India and a heaven for photographers. The hanging rope bridge is one of the popular photo points in addition to the eco-tourism walkway. This gives a totally different perspective of the wildlife and nature present there. Don’t miss out the deer rehabilitation center and have a camera handy with you as in any moment, any miracle can surprise you. Nearby is the Palaruvi, an herbal waterfall which will be cover in upcoming articles.
Crossing the Kerala border into Tamilnadu you can enjoy the famous ‘Border Kadai Poratta’ known for its spicy desi chicken salna and from there you can reach our next tourist place in few hours. Welcome to Manjolai, the peaceful estate situated in the mystical land of Tirunelveli.
Tirunelveli is known to be the only district of India which has all 5 types of lands i.e mountains, valleys, plains, desert and seashore. At a height of 1500 meters in the Kalakad Mundanthurai Together Reserve, this estate is covered with tea plantations.
To reach here you have to cross the Manimuthar dam before 4 pm and then you will come across the beautiful Manimuthar waterfalls. Known for its lovely weather and scenic beauty this place is the best spot for rest and relaxation. With lush greenery and so many small waterfalls, this place is a must-visit destination in the summer. It’s also known as the ‘Poor Man’s Ooty’ as the trip here is totally economical and then environment here is unpolluted by mankind.
5. Nambi Kovil
Two hours from Manjolai we reach the next hill Nambi Kovil which is also in the Western Ghats. But unlike other places, this one is an evergreen dry forest. It’s the starting point of the perennial river Nambiar, so no need to worry about water availability in the falls or stream. Two deities ‘Malaimel Nambi’ and ‘Sangili Boothather ‘are nearby and together they get a lot of worshippers throughout the year.
Once you go above the temple surroundings you can find crystal clear water, which on its way downstream get muddled due to the pollution by visitors. To get on the top of the hills you have to enter bike if you want that thrilling off-road driving experience or enjoy a bumpy ride in the Kalakad Tiger Reserve Safari truck climbing nearly vertical rocks all the way to the falls.
Enter the waters and stand still, you can see small little fishes approaching you and… ‘awww’ you start to scream enjoying the exciting free fish spa!!! There is a 10 ft high rock standing as a jump board, from which you can dive into the 10 ft deep pool, which is a must-have experience here. If you wish to still explore, stroll carefully upstream and you will find pools as deep as 20 ft laying still and other small pools where you can float down peacefully.
The environment gets quieter and deadly silent as you explore more into the forest river, do take a local friend with you. If lucky you may come across the rare Slender Loris (Thevangu) or the Sambar deer (no, it’s not related to the spicy sambar soup) locally called as This place is a tiger reserve forest so keep your eyes and ears open all the time. At the end of the thrilling walk, you will see a large waterfall and this location is sought to be the place of meditation for the mystical ‘Sidha’s. Do not attempt to reach the waterfalls, it remains unexplored and dangerous.
Our next stop is Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district, which is a 1 hour’s journey from Nambi Kovil. As soon as you enter you will be welcomed with the famous ripe banana bajji – “Pazham Pori” The people here have a different dialect and the culture is a mix of both Tamilnadu and Kerala. As the name suggests Naga – snake, and Kovil – Temple, this town has a lot of temples such as ‘VanaTirupathi’ and palaces of Padmanabhapuram.
The place is filled with coconut trees extending up to the shores of the Indian Ocean. Drinking tender coconut while having red rice along with the yummy fish masala, walking by the beaches and swimming in the freshwater streams; what more can one ask for? You can try all types of delicious rare seafood, cheaper compared to the rest of the state.
Let it be Summer, Winter or the rainy season Nagercoil is a Paradise in all the seasons if you just know where to hang out. The food here is delicious and unique due to the coconut oil and flour they add. And guess what, you can always visit the sunset point and Vattakottai fort in Kanyakumari within an hour. The Mathoor Thottipalam (Hanging Trough) across the river Pahrali is one of the highest and longest aqueducts in South Asia. From its center, one can view the complete beauty of Nagercoil.
3. Theri Kaadu – The Red Desert
Yes, other than the Sahara we also have a small desert in the lower edge of the nation. The Teri Dune Complex is a coastal landscape which is so unique and peculiar to only Tamilnadu. This place forms the ‘Palai’ (desert) region of Tirunelveli district and extends across Tuticorin district. All it takes is a 2-hour journey from Nagercoil.
The red sand dunes are of great historical importance as they have formed nearly eight thousand years ago and archeological evidence of people living around here has been found recently. Theri Kaadu is an unusual desert as it grows palm and cashew trees along with few shrubs in spite of the coarse sand in which your feet can sink in up to a foot.
This tiny red spot actually covers an area of 390 square km and does not have the same texture everywhere. The dunes move their places when the winds are strong. The soil is rich in calcium, ilmenite, hematite, and garnet. When it rains these minerals dissolve into the sea forming a natural bed for fish to breed. It’s a budding shooting spot and recent tourist attraction. This place is considered as a gift of nature by the locals and will serve us a good photo and adventure spot.
Famous for its Holy Cross Church, Manapad the coastal village takes just 40 mins from Theri Kaadu. It is a traditional place of pilgrimage in the Malabar Coast, after a relic of the true cross of Christ (from Rome) was fixed to the Holy Cross (the cross which saved a Portuguese Captain). It’s landmarked by a tall Catholic Church built in Portuguese architecture.
Below the cross church in the seashore is the ‘Valli Cave’ the place where the missionary St.Francis Xavier lived. This cave and two other wells which are less than 100 meters away from the seashore, have natural springs and oozes with fresh drinking water throughout the year which is a miracle of nature.
After the shooting of the films “Neethane En Ponvasantham” and “Singam II,” it came into limelight. The waves here serve as the best surfing spot. Recently people practice safe parachute surfing in the blue lagoons which also serves as a natural harbor for fishing boats. You can literally walk into the sea as it is very shallow and the water is clear crystal blue. From the top of the seashore church, you can see sand pits formed in the sea. When you swim and reach the nearest sand spot it will appear as if you are literally standing in the middle of the sea. The strong winds here are also good for flying kites a don’t let your hats fly off.
1. Muyal Theevu and Nallathanni Theevu
Why wait on the shore when you can dive into the sea!!! Travel along the East Coast Road for a few hours into Tuticorin district and reach Periyakulam. If it is a favorable situation i.e without storm or rain you can travel into the sea to reach ‘Nallathanni Theevu’ through local fishermen’s ferry boats. Search ‘Nallathanni Island’ on Google maps for apt location.
As the name suggests it means ‘Island of Good Water’. The land has been inhabited by the local community due to its availability of fresh drinking water. The best season to visit would be from October to January. The boat journey is a thrilling adventure, but be sure to have some contacts with local guys as there is no regulated ferry service or coastal guard support. If lucky you can spot rare fishes on the shallow waters near the shores of the island.
Still having time left after you return back to the shore? Travel back to Tuticorin and relax your evening in Muyal Theevu – Hare Island. Both of these Islands are a part of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park which is a reserved biosphere for many aquatic living organisms. Just 6 km away from Tuticorin this Island is no more an island as it is now connected by roads. During the festival of Pongal, you get special buses to reach the Island. It’s the favorite picnic spot for domestic tourists.
From there you can travel to Tuticorin airport and have a safe return journey.
Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour, do spare some time and visit these hot spots. As you are aware all these places are part of reserved forests and are eco-sensitive. Please do not carry or throw away plastics and litter the environment. It’s always advisable to have a local friend or guide when exploring unknown places. May the adventures continue. Be an Explorer, Be a Khojer. Stay updated with us for many more interesting articles.
That’s our Top 10 hidden tourist spots in South India. Let us know how you liked it. Your feedback is valuable to us.
Travel lover and explorer of unexplored terrains. Building photographer and natural farmer.