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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😀
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.
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.
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.
The hill station also, offers some adventure sports at the resort itself. The small adventure sports center called FreakOutsoffers 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.
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.
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 Resortis 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.
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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