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North India vs South India: Which to Visit (A Helpful Comparison for You)

The distance between India's northernmost state and its southernmost state is the distance between Spain and the Arctic Circle or Canada to Central Mexico. With such a large north-south distance, there are inevitably some regional differences.

So, what is different between North India and South India? How to choose between them? Which is better to visit? You will find some answers and travel inspiration in our article.

North India vs South India: Quick Facts

  North India South India
Features The Taj Mahal
The Ganges River
Imperial style
Himalayas
Desert
Beaches
Bollywood
Colonial style
Wild animals
Tropical scenery
Main tourist destinations Delhi, Agra,Rajasthan (Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur), Varanasi, Shimla Kerala (Cochin, Mararikulam), Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Madurai, Thanjavur), Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore
Things to Do Visit temples, palaces, and forts
Take an Indian cooking class
Take a camel ride across the desert
Explore local markets
Relax on a beach
Explore wild animals in national parks
Visit temples and grottoes
Culture & Religion More diverse: Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism… Hinduism dominates, more traditional
People & Language Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, and Bengali Dravidian language such as Tamil and Malayalam
Food Centered on wheat
Moderately spicy
Centered on rice
Spicier
Length of stay 7 to 14 days 7 to 12 days
Best times October to March
June to August
December to March
October to May

We Recommend Visiting North India if You:

  • Are a first-time visitor to India
  • Are going for a honeymoon
  • Want to see imperial buildings and historical relics

We Recommend Visiting South India if You

  • Prefer a more relax and leisurely holiday
  • Want some beach time
  • Prefer off-the-beaten-track travel
  • Like to explore India's religion and traditions in depth

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1. North Indian vs South India: Views

Agra Fort Agra Fort, Noeth India

North India has a higher elevation. The famous Himalayan foothills are located in its northeast. There are also desert landscapes in the northwest.

North India has more splendid palaces, temples, and forts with an imperial style and noble temperament.

Conversely, south India is located in low latitudes and embraced by the sea. The tropical landscapes and beaches are its highlights. Architecture in the south is more colonial because of its colonial history.

Goa Beach View in Goa, South India

2. North India vs South India: Things to Do

Things to Do in North India

Taj Mahal Taj Mahal in Agra

Many of the world-famous attractions you are familiar with are located in north India. Thus, iconic landmark visiting is a must-do for your north India trip, and there are also some unique experiences:

  • Visit the famous Taj Mahal to envision the romantic story behind it.
  • Go to Agra Fort and have a romantic dinner there.
  • Visit the "Palace of Wind" (Hawa Mahal) and explore the secret of its name.
  • Watch the faithful worshiping at Jama Masjid.
  • Take a camel safari in a Jaiselmer desert.
  • Witness pilgrims performing ancient rituals by the Ganges River.
  • Have a tiger safari in Ranthambore National Park.

Things to Do in South India

tropical views with a unique houseboat experience Houseboat

Things to do in south India revolve around more relaxing activities, and also there are some cultural experiences, like:

  • Relax on a beach.
  • Enjoy the tropical views with a unique houseboat experience.
  • Enjoy the colorful traditional dances of Kerala.
  • Experience a boat safari in Periyar National Park.
  • Visit some iconic temples like Brihadisvara Temple and Meenakshi Temple.
  • Explore Bollywood to discover India's film industry.

3. North India vs South India: Length of Stay

The Palace of Wind The Palace of Wind, Jaipur

As for the recommended length of stay, there is no big difference between north India and south India.

A trip to north India lasting for 7 to 14 days is picked by most travelers. 7 days is a basic requirement for the classic combination of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur — India's golden triangle

If you want to explore more, you can go to Rajasthan, which is best for experiencing Indian culture and history. Varanasi is best for experiencing Indian religion. If you want an off-the-beaten-path experience, Shimla and Amritsar are recommended.

Recommended North India Tours:

Similarly, you will need 7 to 12 days for a popular trip to south India. Mumbai (usually visited for 2 days) is the main hub. Then, Goa (2–4 days) and Kerala (9 days) are the choice of most for a trip to south India.

4. North India vs South India: Best Times

For most cities in north and south India, the best times to travel are similar — from November to March. During this period, the weather is cool(er) and dry.

The biggest difference between the best time to travel in north and south India is between the mountainous area in the north and beaches in the south.

For the furthest-north areas like Leh, the best time to visit is in summer. For the religious Gangetic sites in the Himalayan foothills, the best times to visit are from March to May and October to November.

For the beaches in south India like Goa, the best times to visit are from October to May.

Best Time to Visit India

5. North India vs South India: Culture

India is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. There are also some cultural differences between the north and the south.

Religion

In terms of religion, most people in most areas of north India and south India believe in Hinduism. Varanasi is considered to be the Hindu holy city.

Islam and Sikhism are far more prevalent in the north. Punjab is home to the majority of Sikhs. >>>Sikh vs Hindu — 2 Similarities and 7 Differences

Kerala, in the south, is a state where people of different religions live, like Christians, Muslims, and also Hindus.

Festivals

As for festivals, many of the festivals are celebrated across the country, but there are few festivals that are confined only to the southern region, like Ugadi and Onam.

Some festivals are celebrated with more gusto in the north than in the south, like Diwali and Holi.

See more on The Top 37 Festivals of India.

6. Food

The staple food is different between north and south India. Wheat is the staple food in the drier north. North Indians eat bread-like parathas, chapattis, puris, and rotis.

Rice or rice-made products are the staple food in south India like dosas and idlis. South Indians also eat more coconuts and seafood as more of their population is close to sea.

The curries in the north are creamier, heavier, and less spicy than in the south. South India is more vegetarian.

7. People and Language

Pushkar people Pushkar people, North India

North Indians are generally taller and lighter brown of skin, whereas southerners are shorter and darker.

Hindi and English the main languages of India, while each region has different dialects and ethnic languages.

The languages spoken by north Indians belong to the Indo-Aryan family, which is closely related to modern European languages, primarily Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi.

South Indians speak Dravidian languages, mainly Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada, which are unrelated to the world's better-known Indo-European linguistic families.

Related reading: Languages of India and Hello in Hindi — Learn How to Say Hello/Hi in Hindi

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