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Looking for a getaway to a place that is easy on the pocket, but also gives you a relaxing time away from hassles of daily life?  Go South!

South India is a green contrast to the peaks and plains up north, a treasure trove of fascinating history, lush landscapes, delectable cuisine, and bustling  cities. Destinations brim with the rich splendour of nature, with enthralling valleys, and refreshing mountains. This part of India is dotted with enchanting offbeat destinations that can provide you with the ideal setting for your dream holiday.

Puducherry: The City Of Spiritual Vibration

You can never not have Puducherry (main image), also known as Pondicherry, on the list of budget-friendly destinations in India. A city with a cobblestoned French Quarter, golden beaches, cosy cafes offering dainty delicacies, temples and the Auroville Ashram, the union territory of Puducherry is the perfect place at which to experience French and Tamil culture in a single city. The colonial structures, some dating back to the 18th century, line a grid of clean straight streets that house French institutions, hotels, guest houses, restaurants, boutiques, and private residences, including the sprawling Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Compound walls in hues of cream, yellow, pink, blue and grey welcome visitors to this place, interspersed with flamboyant bougainvillea bursting over the gates and walls of courtyards. The city’s busy but easy-going lifestyle is balanced by quiet beaches and peaceful resorts in the north and south. Pondy, as it is fondly called, not only has its own exclusive attractions, but it also serves as an excellent base for exploring the diverse destinations that surround it. Auroville, the international City of Unity, the imposing Gingee Fort, the holy temple towns of Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai, and Chidambaram, the heritage sculptures and magnificent rock temples of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), and the cool lush hill stations of Yercaud should all be on your list of places to visit.

Average cost: Stay + food = Rs 500 to Rs 1,000/day
Places to visit: Auroville, Aurobindo Ashram, Paradise Beach
Nearest railway station: Puducherry Railway Junction
Nearest airport: Chennai International Airport

Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu: A Retreat For The Mind And Body

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Although popular as a honeymoon destination of South India, Kodaikanal is a good choice for budget trips in India if you are travelling solo or with friends. Sparkling lakes, lush greenery, clouds and mist, and beautiful hills make it a great destination at which to escape the chaos of city life. Located in the hills of Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul district, Kodi, as it is affectionately referred to, has a long history as a retreat. Because of its lakes and hills, the queen of mountain destinations is also regarded as a “gift of God.” The lovely town welcomes you with a discernible drop in temperature and breathtaking scenery. Also called the Switzerland of the East for its largely untouched natural beauty, it offers a wide range of interesting activities and places to visit. 

Average cost: Stay + food = Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000/ day
Places to visit: Kodaikanal Lake, Silver Cascade Falls, Coaker’s Walk
Nearest railway station: Kodai Railway Station
Nearest airport: Madurai Airport

Gokarna, Karnataka: Beachers’ Paradise

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A serene location in the southern state of Karnataka, Gokarna, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, is a destination that enthrals both luxury and budget travellers. Stroll along the expansive beaches watching the sunrise and sunset, relish local delicacies, and visit the many temples to enjoy the essence of this place. In fact, Gokarna is well-known among Hindu pilgrims for holy sites such as the Mahabaleshwar Temple, which houses a shrine dedicated to the deity Shiva. Koti Teertha, a temple tank nearby, is where devotees bathe in the holy waters. The town also has beaches, such as the palm tree-lined Gokarna Beach, Kudle Beach and Om Beach.

Average cost: Stay + food = Rs 800 to Rs 1,500/day approx
Places to visit in Gokarna: Om Beach, Paradise Beach, Mahabaleshwar Temple, Koti Tirtha Tank
Nearest railway stations: Karwar or Murdeshwar Railway Station
Nearest airport: Dabolim Airport

Vagamon, Kerala: A Hill Station Break To Warm Your Heart

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All the atmosphere of Munnar, but at a pocket-friendly price – that’s Vagamon. As scenic as its neighbour Munnar, but less known, Vagamon offers you a chance to stay at a homestay, steep yourself into local culture, and immerse yourself in nature. Sited 1,100 metres above sea level, it works well for a summer holiday because even summer temperatures tend to vary between 10°C and 23°C. Expect lots of green; this is, after all, a plantation township, but also from the lush hills, meandering streams and atmospheric ravines. On the menu here is Thangal Para, which, legend has it, was home to a Sufi saint of Afghani origin hundreds of years ago; a spherical rock marks his tomb, and you can walk through an ancient cave, as well as the Kurisumala Ashram, an autonomous monastery of the Syro-Malankara Church. Adventure seekers will love the opportunity to go rock climbing, trekking and paragliding.

Average cost: Stay + food =  Rs 1,800 to 2,000/day 
Places to visit in Gokarna: Thangal Para, Kurisumala Ashram, the Indo-Swiss Dairy Project
Nearest railway station:  Kuttikanam
Nearest airport:  Cochin International Airport

Also Read: 3 Hill Stations in South India You Must Visit 





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