Driving to Horsley Hills

posted in: Andhra Pradesh, Asia, India, Nature | 44
Let’s go back to those fairy tales where you have this one home or castle atop a lovely hill with blossoms of flowers and pretty birds entertaining you with their melodious chirps, where the deer spring around and the clouds give you company….Mmmm! Sigh!

Dreamy? Well, I lived this dreamy feeling at the Horsley hills the last weekend for that is exactly how this quaint, off-beat hill-station is. Right at the peak of a hill, not crowded , not spoilt and just right for a lovely, refreshing day-trip or night out from the hustle bustle of Bangalore
Yellow Blossoms lining up to greet you as you enter Horsley Hills
Yellow Blossoms lining up to greet you as you enter Horsley Hills
Had heard of this off-beat hill station in South India and with a convenient distance of  145 kms,  my hubby and me decided that it was a perfect destination to drive for a day away from Bengaluru. So, this long weekend, we set off in our Ford Ecosport to this destination called Horsley Hills, in Andhra Pradesh.
Zipping along the Bangalore- Chintamani By Pass through the Canopy of trees
Zipping along the Bangalore- Chintamani By Pass through the Canopy of trees
The drive from Bangalore is amazing – the road conditions excellent, with canopies of trees growing alongside and beautiful hills at regular intervals. Though google maps shows the distance as a 3 – 3.5 hours journey, we managed to cover it in less than 3 hours. Along the way, near Chintamani, you come across these amazing hills, which were covered with clouds, giving you an impression of a smoking volcano. Cannot resist adding one picture of the same. For more, do follow me on my instagram.
Hills near Chintamani
Hills near Chintamani
Known as the “Ooty of Andhra Pradesh“, this hill station was named after a British Collector – W.D Horsley, who built his home here in the 1870s. Originally, the hills were called Yenugu Mallama Konda. There is an interesting story behind this name which goes as an old woman named Mallama used to reside atop these hills (Konda in local language) and was regularly fed by the elephants (Yenugu in local language). 
Horsley Hills
Horsley Hills
As you drive through the bends to Horsley Hills, beautiful yellow flowers greet you along the way. You can see a lot of different monkeys along the way – some of them were quite different looking but camera shy – so well, there isn’t a picture of them 😉 . The entire hill station is centered around the main resort here – Harita Resort, run by the AP Tourism board. Think of the resort as the center point while the rest of the hill surrounds it, pretty much like the castle atop the fairy tale hill. 
Haritha Resort - Horsley Hills
Haritha Resort – Horsley Hills
Clean and green, this resort is the focal point of the hill station, whether you want to stay or just grab a meal or two. There are one or two small holiday room rentals near it, but with limited rooms and food arrangements. Though we did not stay here, just had a peek into their rooms to find them fairly decent for a night stay. We did use the resort’s restaurant for some yummy and hot South Indian buffet breakfast.
At Horsley Hills
At Horsley Hills
One important stop here is the Horsley Hills Environment Center. As you exit the resort from the back gate, this is right across the road. One thing that caught my fancy was this lovely pink cascade of flowers, right outside the resort gate. Of course, I could not resist using it as a back-drop for some amazing photographs. One of which I have shared here. 
Deer at the Environment Park at Horsley Hills
Deer at the Environment Park at Horsley Hills
The environment center has a small entrance fee of INR 10 per adult and has a small little zoo with a few deers, crocodiles, emus, peacocks and various birds. I loved the fact that no plastic bottles or packs are allowed into this park. You have to shell out a refundable deposit of INR 50 for taking any such material into the park. As you can guess, the place is clean and devoid of plastic waste, thanks to this rule. 
Horsley's Bungalow
Horsley’s Bungalow
The British Collector – Horsley’s bungalow is within the premises of this park and you have to go past it to reach a view point. The Bungalow is in a fairly decent shape. The caretaker there showed us some tiles dated 1870, which have been used to build the bungalow. While the rooms are generally, not kept open, he allowed us to take a peek into one. Apparently, these rooms are still used as a guest house. 🙂

Right next to the bungalow is a lovely view point of the Horsley Hills with its signature yellow blossoms merging with the fresh greens and a distant view of the hills in the background. It’s no wonder that Horsley chose this place for his abode.
From the View Point at Horsley Hills
From the View Point at Horsley Hills
The blossoms around the place make it an excellent landscape for some photographs with your friends and family. You can even spot some amazing birds around here. Right behind the bungalow, you must check out the 150 year old Eucalyptus tree, which goes by the name Kalyani. 
Crocodiles at Horsley Hills
Crocodiles at Horsley Hills
Further on from the bungalow, along the trail to a Nature Center, you pass by the crocodile quarry. There are around 4-5 of them lying around in wake of some prey. My hubby and daughter were quite fascinated by the white teeth they have. They are so sparkly that one actually, wonders if you need a toothpaste at all. 😀 
View from the Nature Centre at Horsley Hills
View from the Nature Centre at Horsley Hills
Near the Nature Center, a small little building behind the Collector’s bungalow, is a rocky hill, an easy climb for most people. Had it not been bumpy, it is actually a good incline to slide down. Most people climb up to a lovely view of the valley from here. 

From the park, we went back through the resort to what is called the Governor’s bungalow. 
Governor's Bungalow at Haritha Resort, Horsley Hills
Governor’s Bungalow at Haritha Resort, Horsley Hills
The rooms in the Bungalow are rented out as rooms by the resort. Right behind this is the Valley View Point of Horsley Hills. The climb down has 134 steps, as counted by my little one, not too steep and not too bumpy. The steps end to yet another amazing view point of the valley below the hills.
View from the Valley View Point, Horsley Hills
View from the Valley View Point, Horsley Hills
There is a certain calmness in the air here which make you feel really refreshed and close to nature. Besides the Valley View point, there is also, a Sunset point in Horsley Hills. All these view points are walkable and are within 500m of each other. You can just spend some time sitting here and gazing around at the nature. For the bird-watchers, it is a great place to spot some unusual birds. So, don’t forget your binoculars.
Adventure Sports at Horsley Hills
The hill station also, offers some adventure sports at the resort itself. The small adventure sports center called FreakOuts offers you some wall climbing, trekking, zipline, ATV trails, rappelling, earthquake and other rope-activities.  The center is a good one, even if you are a novice. Great for some team building activities too. 

Horsley Hills is great for a day long picnic or a lovely one night stay. The best part about this hill-station is that you just have to park your car in one place and just leave it there till you are ready to go back home. The entire hill just has a circular track which leads you back to the same place you started from – all of course, walkable. While there isn’t a long list of things to do in Horsley Hills, it is probably. this very fact that makes it an attractive and great place to spend a day.

So if you are twiddling your thumbs about what I could do this weekend, load your car and drive straight to Andhra Pradesh’s Ooty – Horsley Hills.

Getting there:

  • Drive from Bengaluru towards the Bangalore Tirupati Highway – turn in tpwards Chintamani By Pass and head through Madanapalli to Horsley Hills. There is another route as well through Gownipalli instead of Madanapalli, but would suggest you take the first route as it is better and more scenic.
  • From Hyderabad, you can head via the Anantapur- Tirupati Highway. The same is around 540kms away.
  • The closest airports to this place are Bangalore and Tirupati, both around 150- 160kms away.
  • There are regular buses from Tirupati and Madanapalli to Horsley Hills. Madanapalli is the nearest railway station.

Travel Tips: 

  • Anytime of the year is good for these cool, green hills
  • There are a few basic grocery outlets at the hill station which have some packaged food like chips and biscuits for sale. For any other requirements, you will have to head to Madanapalli at the base of Horsley Hills.
  • Harita Resort is the main place to stay. It is quite well equipped with decent rooms, swimming pool and a small ayurvedic spa. Make sure you have reserved your rooms before heading here as in case of non-availability, you will have to go to Madanapalli and stay there.
  • Another option for stay is Holiday Homes
  • There are no restaurants except for the one at the resort. Hence, you will be at their mercy and timing for meals. Hence, if traveling with kids, it is advisable to stock up some snacks and ready to eat food
  • Remember to slather enough mosquito repellent whilst here as the hill-station being an open nature place, has enough of these pests.
  • Comfortable walking shoes and light woolens are recommended.

 

 

 

 

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44 Responses

  1. Horsley Hill looks like a lovely place Ami. The pictures are superb. Nice to see the crocs lazying around. 🙂

  2. Thanks Somali. The place has a lazy feel to it alright. 😀

  3. OMG.Bookmarking this for our trip.Lovely account and wonderful shots Ami.Thank you so much for sharing.:)

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

  4. The place looks so so so scenic! Loved it seeing it through your pictures!

  5. Thanks Ami…One more destination added to the itinerary:)

  6. Its such a beautiful place. Nice pics. Some pics from our trip to Horsley in
    http://aruntravelpics.blogspot.in/2013/02/horsley-hills.html

  7. Thanks Sriram and Krithiga…am sure you are going to have fun

  8. It is like a yellow paradise. 😀

  9. Thanks …am glad you found a new place to head to

  10. Thanks Arun. Had a look at your pictures as well. And have left a comment too 😀

  11. My God, Ami…what a lovely way to promote a lovely destination. I only hope that your promotion does not result in Horsely getting destroyed by hordes of tourists. India has a long way to go towards practising responsible tourism.

  12. A wonderful post with beautiful pics!

  13. Beautiful Place and and pics…looks so serene and untouched.
    Another place added in must visit list :-), thanks

  14. Amazing place, wonderful description and some superb snaps! Horsley may have had a weird name, but amazing taste 🙂

  15. Yes Lata, I am hoping my readers are responsible tourists and will keep the beauty of the place intact 😀

  16. Thank you Rajeev

  17. Thank you Ruchi

  18. Thank you Subhodeep

  19. A place so close, I hope to visit it some time. Great pics.
    Thanks for all the relevant info.

  20. Great write-up Ami…had never heard of this place but now planning to drive/ride out there soon.
    Shraboni

  21. Thanks Indrani.

  22. Thanks Shraboni. Do head there and let me know about your experience too.

  23. This place looks absolutely idyllic! I’d happily spend a weekend exploring. 🙂

  24. This sounds like a mellow, local place to visit. So different from the grand palaces and forts I’m used to seeing in India. Really beautiful scenery too.

  25. Sounds like a good weekend getaway, would like to visit, do we need to book the resort in advance?

  26. What a beautiful spot. Even though you mention the area is small, there sure seems to be a lot to do in the area and it’s nice that you can walk the entire way.

  27. I love such tranquil, untouched destinations. Your pictures were awesome. Thanks for the information.

  28. What an idyllic place! I like your blog, it really feels like I’m already traveling in India without being there 🙂

  29. John Hawkins

    WD Horsley was my Great Grandfather and it is only in the past couple of years that I had discovered his roles in Andhra Pradesh and Cuddapah. You have taken many beautiful pictures of the area which I haven’t seen anywhere else. I have a couple of pictures of the entrance to Horsley Kondah with a Grandaunt and Granduncle featured (taken in 1873 and 1874). No overall view as taken by you. Thank you very much for the new insights into my family that you’ve given me!

    • Thank you. It is so good to know someone related to this place. The place was an amazing find by your great grandfather. Would love to see the Old snaps too 🙂

  30. John Hawkins

    Hello Ami.
    Is there an email address that I could send the pictures to? The “entrance” could well be an outbuilding as there are baskets of flowers in one picture and in the other a leopard skin and skull with antlers. But my granduncle definitely stated they were pictures taken at Horsley Kondah. I don’t know if you’re interested in pictures of WD (William Dowdeswell) Horsley or his wife Mary as I have those too, but they are not taken at Horsley Hills.
    Regards, John

  31. Christeena

    I found this place reaalyyyy cool! But is dis place ok to drive alone?? Is it dangerous to travel alone to dis place?

    • I would not recommend a solo here as the place is fairly unexplored and quite secluded. A beautiful place but the absence of crowds could be an issue.

  32. Hi, We are planing to visit this place and while we are exploring more info about Horsley Hills we happen to find this Article. I must say, This truly helped us to know more about the place.

    We recently bought our first car- FORD ECOSPORT :). My Husband is new to Driving though I must say he drives pretty decent. So My Husband is bit worried about the the road to the hill top. Can you please give a bit more info if the roads are tricky and any difficulty for the guys new to driving??

    Also any suggestion about what kind of rooms are decent to hire in Haritha Resorts there?? As I am very particular about hygiene request you to suggest kind of room good with clean beds and washrooms. BTW i was referring to the below site for accommodation there.

    http://www.harithahotel.com/Horsely-Hills/

    we will be travelling this thursday i.e., 15-sep-16.

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Hi Bharty,

      Apologies for the late reply as I was traveling. I guess you would have already started your trip. Hope you have a great time there. Cheers

  33. i HAD BEEN TO HORSLEY ABOUT 6 YEARS BACK. TRULY AN OUTSTANDING PLACE FOR A HOLIDAY, TOTALLY SECLUDED, LIVING IN REAL NATURE. BUT IDEAL FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS, YOU MAY START GETTING BORED AFTER THAT.

    • Thanks Nagaraj. A day trip is ideal or at the most an overnight. After that you are bound to get bored.

Would love to know what you think