As a travel agent, my preferred method of travel is ‘off the beaten path’. I want to experience the local lifestyle and pave the way for others to see the world in a different perspective. I visited the south of India and was culture-shocked (in a good way)!
Secluded beaches, kayaking into the sunset, fresh fruit and juice stands on every corner, and tall, handsome men. The south of India is a place undiscovered by the bus-loads of tourists, which makes it my first choice in 'off the beaten path' travel.
In a state called Tamil Nadu, I was able to find my true love. Not my future husband, but my true love of stand up paddle boarding, better known as SUP. In the little fishing village of Rameshwaram, a kite surfing school attracts people from all over the world to either learn kitesurfing or just surf around the blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
Where is Tamil Nadu?
Tamil Nadu is a state of India located just west of Kerala, which is one of the more well-known states in the south of India. From Tamil Nadu you are also close enough to paddle to Sri Lanka if you wanted to! But perhaps it's not the best option, by taking this route you run the risk of getting shot by the government!
An Off-The-Beaten-Path Guide to Tamil Nadu, South India - @travelwithmag
How to get there
Air travel - You have the option of four international airports in the larger cities (Chennai being the main one) and three domestic airports.
Railway - The infamous Indian railway system is an authentic experience for any traveler visiting the country. Chennai station can connect you to most major cities in India, the other main stations are Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Coimbatore.
Road travel - There are plenty of buses that can take you practically wherever you need to go, and if the bus doesn’t take you right to your destination, there’ll always be a rickshaw nearby ready take you the rest of the way. Keep in mind that buses in India take far longer than you’d expect and are generally the most uncomfortable of the travel options.
Visa requirementsIndian tourist visas are required by many different passport holders. You may be eligible to apply for an e-visa or get a visa upon entry, otherwise, you may need to inquire directly with an online visa service. To find out what visa you're required to obtain, go here.
What to packTamil Nadu is very hot and the sun can be very dangerous. I recommend to pack a rash guard with SPF 50+ protection and always wear sunscreen. Aside from the sun, the rash guard will cover more of your skin to be respectful to the locals. I chose to also wear leggings until I paddled out far from the shore. Some other items to consider are:
What to do in Tamil Nadu
1. Play - You can learn to kitesurf here; the waves are great and the schools get students from all over the world. I chose to kayak and SUP as the waves weren't big enough to kitesurf during my stay in March. When the water is calm this is also a great place for SUP yoga which is my #1 all-time favorite activity.
2. Eat - The food in the south is very different from the north. The food is not spicy (unless you want it to be) and there's fresh seafood; fishermen sell their local catch of the day on the beach every morning! There are fresh fruit stands on every corner that also make juice. There is a Caribbean feel here within India, making it a unique place to visit.
3. Learn - There are many temples in the area and learning the history of Lord Rama is a full-day event! Lord Rama is one of the most commonly worshiped gods for Hindus and there are many sights that share the history of him in Tamil Nadu.
If you’re wanting to experience the south of India in a different way I suggest going sooner rather than later, before everyone finds out about this hidden gem!
Have you been to the south of India? Share your favourite spots in the comments below.