Since India is such a massive country, I think it’s not really surprising that each area is quite different from the next. There are some particularly large differences between the northern and southern regions, which means that, as holiday destinations, they each offer something unique.
Of course, that begs the question, which is best to head to – north or south? As with pretty much any holiday choice, this is largely a decision based on your personal preferences; but, I can help you decide by giving you a brief overview of the various attractions of each region. Hopefully, this will assist you in picking between the two.
Home to the nation’s capital, Delhi, the north of India has a seriously impressive range of attractions, particularly when you consider how wonderfully varied they are. As well as being home to some of the country’s most exciting cities and famous landmarks, it is also where you’ll find the Himalayas and the remote region of Ladakh, which is famous for its Tibetan monasteries.
Being the capital city, Delhi is an absolute must-visit. Tours of north India often take you around the so-called Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Agra, of course, is home to one of the country’s most famous landmarks, the Taj Mahal, while Jaipur is the Rajasthani capital and houses the fabulous Hawa Mahal (which is sometimes called the Palace of the Winds), alongside many other important sites.
Generally speaking, the weather in the north is cooler than in the south, while the food can be quite different too. In fact, in the north you’ll often notice Chinese influences mingling in with the Indian cuisine (in Mizoram, for instance, bai is a very popular dish that features spinach, bamboo shoots and pork).
There’s also some great street food, particularly when you head to Chadri Chowk in Old Delhi. Famous for its street food, this area is a fantastic place to try chaat – a quintessentially Indian snack food that’s a mix of crispy fried bread, potato pieces, spices and more.
So, how does the south differ from the north? Among the most immediately noticeable differences is the fact that the climate here is more obviously tropical, tending to be hotter and more humid. There is also a gentler pace of life and it’s home to some wonderful wildlife and great beaches, which makes it very well suited to relaxing holidays.
If you’re interested in seeing the local wildlife, don’t miss a trip to Nagarhole. This protected area comprises forested valleys and mountains, which are home to all kinds of amazing creatures, including leopards, tigers and wild elephants, as well as around 270 types of bird.
However, should you be more interested in exploring historic buildings, it’s worth heading to Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, which is home to some mind-blowing examples of Indo-Islamic architecture, including Mecca Masjid and Golconda Fort.
Perhaps the place that interests me most, though, is Kanyakumari, which is probably best described as a place like Land’s End, in that it is where the peninsula comes to a point. Unlike Land’s End, Kanyakumari is an incredibly sacred site, which draws many Hindu pilgrims, particularly during the full moon phase in April. Why? Well, at this time you can see both the sun setting and the moon rising above the same sea – something that’s pretty unforgettable.
In terms of food, chillis and spices are often used pretty heavily – especially in Andhra Pradesh. Coastal Karnataka, meanwhile, is known for its seafood specialities, while Pondicherry’s cuisine has French influences. So, the south is a great place to explore if you want to experience lots of different flavours.