Monday, 9 July 2012 7:31 AM
Karnataka and Kerala are two unforgettable locations for anyone on walking holidays in India - set in the middle of the spice hills, they offer unparalleled natural scenery, luxurious accommodation and a fantastic opportunity to explore the country's culture and customs.
A two-week stay in this southern region is the perfect chance to experience the peace and tranquillity that are a way of life here, ensuring you travel home feeling rested and relaxed.
However, if you do like the hustle and bustle of a busy city, then make the most of Mumbai, which is where you will land in India before travelling to Karnataka via the overnight express train.
Arriving in Hubli, one of the largest cities in the state, you will then travel to Hulgol and see why the region is considered one of the most beautiful in the country, boasting lakes, waterfalls and lush plantations in the areas surrounding this spice-growing village.
Wildlife lovers will be able to spot any number of endemic species including hornbills, peacocks, bee-eaters and mynahs, so keep your eyes peeled for some great photo opportunities.
However, no holiday would be complete without seeing the different spices being cultivated nearby, with vanilla pods, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and peppercorns all commonly grown.
There is so much to see and do here that it is recommended you spend at least a couple of days taking everything in - you can visit the Sirsi market, which is renowned for its colourful and aromatic spice auctions, or take a trip to a local plantation and learn the ins and outs of the trade.
Alternatively, if you are looking to brush up on your local history, there are drivers who can take you to various cultural sites nearby including Vittala Temple - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - or the Banvasi Temple and Yana caves.
Your next destination will be the village of Thrikkaipetta, a four-hour journey that just flies by as you get to witness some jaw-dropping panoramic views, as well as coffee and spice plantations galore.
After a day exploring the local bamboo handicrafts and coffee farming fields, you will be whisked away to one of the highlights of your India trip - the magical backwaters of Kerala.
Made up of a network of intricate lagoons, streams, rivers and canals, this peaceful oasis is one of south India's most treasured locations, with entire communities of rice and coconut farmers earning a living by tilling this fertile land.
After climbing aboard a specially-built houseboat called the Kayal Kettuvallam, you will be able to explore some areas off the beaten track, allowing you to traverse rivers that are restricted to larger tourist vessels.
Here, you can visit a number of fascinating villages, where you will experience excellent hospitality first-hand and learn more about the various skills at which each settlement excels, whether it is fishing or creating rope from coir - the husk of a coconut.
Spend at least three days cruising the gentle waters of Kerala before getting a car to Kochi - a major port city in the state. This is the perfect place to end your holiday, allowing you to take in the historic wonders of the area by visiting a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques and Portuguese-style homes established in the times of explorer Vasco da Gama.
One thing you can guarantee from your walking break in India is that you'll have plenty of fantastic memories of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.