From the painted temples of Tamil Nadu to the natural riches of Karnataka, where jungle-clad hill country is dotted with rice paddies, coconut palms and banana plantations, the southern states are one of the country’s most intriguing regions. Everywhere throughout this often off-the-beaten-track region, the pace is relaxed and the crowds almost non-existent.

In Kerala, great cultural diversity and languid pace create a unique feeling of intimacy and richness. Here it is all about ‘homestays’, where local families have turned their ancestral homes into charming small hotels. These allow you to experience a more authentic Kerala, however, the choice of these homestays is crucial as only the ones that have been well thought out and are well managed can provide truly fantastic experiences.