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How To Reach South India
South India is the southern part of the Indian sub continent, the peninsular region that is not locked by landmass but waterbodies on three sides. In spite of so much water around it, the best way to reach South India is by air. There onwards, you can use the wide network of trains by the Indian Railways, hire private cabs, Ola/Ubers, take buses or domestic flights from once place to another. Waterways are not yet so well developed in these regions, except a few backwater routes in the state of Kerala and the jetties that operate in Goa.
But the fantastic connectivity and frequency of other three routes more than make up for this glitch. Here is a detailed commentary on each.
South India is characterised by a web of rivers amidst many hills and plains. Travelling to this piece of land, however, is pretty simple today. With a host of airports and even a string of airlines dedicated to the South, air travel is a cakewalk. For International travellers coming to South India, there are many airports that become landing spots from foreign countries. There is the Cochin International Airport (Cochi) in Kerala, Kempegowda International Airport (Bangalore) in Karnataka, Chennai and Coimbatore International Airports in Tamil Nadu. With these three major states covering most of the South Indian tourist destinations, they also have domestic airports like Kozhikode, Mangalore, Madurai, Calicut, Pondicherry etc.
For Goa-goers, you have the option of Dabolim Airport, which is a military base that doubles up as civil domestic as well as international airport.
Some regular aircraft carriers in the south include Air India, Jet Airways, Spicejet, Indigo, Alliance Air and Air Deccan (low cost airline).
The Southern wing of Indian Railways is headquartered in Chennai and runs smooth operations with connectivity to all South Indian and some Deccan states including Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra.
Train travel in India is the lifeline of connectivity for most rural and semi-urban public, hence it is made very cheap and accessible for all. Most cities, towns and villages have railway stations. Major junctions in the South include Kozhikode and Alleppey in Kerala, Bangalore and Mysore in Karnataka, Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Other tourist destinations that boast of a railway station of their own include Madurai, Goa, Pondicherry, Hampi, Badami, Kanyakumari and Rameswaram.
Some luxurious train journeys that are undertaken by foreign travellers in South India include that of The Golden Chariot’s Southern Splendour tour (Bangalore, Mysore, Goa). This is a week long tour with onboard train journey and stopover at each of the tourist destinations on the way, done in true South Indian royal style.
NH32 laces an interconnected web through Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry,
NH42 though Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pardesh,
NH44 has secondary routes in Kerala along with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,
NH66 winds through Goa, Kerala and Karnataka.
With such an extensive interweaving of national highways, not to mention state highways and district roads as well, South India is very well connected if you want to travel by road.
There are various state run buses that ply to most destinations. The KSRTC (Kerala), BMTC (Bangalore and surrounding areas) and TNSTC (all over Tamil Nadu) are some of the most famous public buses. There are private buses that are air conditioned and have better suspensions like the Volvo too. But they are a little expensive. You can also hire a taxi or book an outstation Ola using their app.
The inland waterways in South India should ideally be well developed thanks to the network of rivers, streams and backwaters. But it is not so as of now. There are some routes that do well, including Goa, Kerala and West Bengal. The Kerala backwaters become navigable and many boats, jetties, rafts are run for locals. These also become quite a scenic experience.