Cool breeze, Misty Hills, Lovely Sunset all giving you a high Walk in the parks, boat in the lakes, dip in the waterfalls – Sigh!!!
Is that how you feel when you head to a Hill Station?
There is something very refreshing, peaceful and romantic about hill stations. Every time I visit a new hill station, it definitely makes me wonder if this is the place where I would want to retire. India has quite a few hill stations – each unique in its own way. The ones up North India are nestled midst the snowy Himalayas while down South, they have lush green hills around them.
In this post, I list out my 10 must- visit Hill Stations of South India.
Let’s start with the “Prince of Hill Stations” – Kodaikanal. Located in Tamil Nadu, this little hill station was established in 1845. The name means the “Gift of Forests” and it definitely is one. This lovely hill station is quite a popular honeymoon destination. The place is not just green but vibrant with the lovely colorful hydrangeas growing all around and giant lilies in every nook and corner.
With many trekking trails around, it’s a great destination for some adventure sports like rock climbing, rappelling etc. And should you decide to do that, don’t forget to spot the mini strawberry plants that grow alongside these paths. During my trip, I trekked along the Bear Shola falls, and found these really cute strawberry plants with tiny strawberries on them. Totally had a blast spotting them and eating them along the way. Check out the other list of Kodaikanal attractions.
Kodaikanal is a well-developed hill station, you can actually get your choice of accommodation as per your budget.
Must-Do Suggestion: Try trekking along to the Bear Shola Falls, especially if you are in Kodaikanal in monsoons.
With the fresh smell of the Eucalyptus trees and green manicured tea gardens, Coonoor beckons a lot of tourists from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. A quieter, greener and a less touristy neighbor to the famed hill station of Ooty, Coonoor has its calm charm. The place is frequented by a lot of rare and colorful birds – a paradise for bird-watchers. There are various hiking trails that lead up to spectacular viewpoints like the Lamb’s point and Dolphin’s point where you can glance down at the mist-filled valleys of the Nilgiris. And while you are in Coonoor, shop for the fresh tea and the Ooty chocolates to take back home with you. Trust me -they are one of a kind.
Must-Do Suggestion: Take a ride in the toy train from Ooty to Mettupalayam and visit the Japanese-styled Sims’ Park.
Munnar in Malayalam means 3 rivers – named so as 3 rivers that flow through the town. Formerly, Munnar was a summer resort for the British, but now, this has become a very popular retreat for families, friends and couples. The beautiful weather, the tea gardens, rivers and wildlife sanctuary in Munnar all make it a unique experience for different types of tourists.
Eravikulam national park is a great stop-over for spotting unique wildlife including Elephants, mountain goats, langurs and gaurs. The Top Station Viewpoint is a fantastic place to get a panoramic view of the state of Tamil Nadu. Another special thing about this viewpoint is that it is home to a unique blue flower –Neelakurunji, which blooms only once in 12 years. The next year it is expected is 2018.So you might want to mark your dates right now 🙂
Must-Do Suggestion:Take a tour of the Tea Museum by the Tata Tea Brand – you might just convert to a tea lover.
Now, this is one of my favorite places.Wayanad actually, is a district and not a small hill station. It is quite widespread and has plenty of things for you to do – whether it is boating or waterfalls or wildlife or even visiting old caves. The diversity of Wayanad is what makes it the most attractive to me, for each time I decide to plan a trip, I can just head to a different part of Wayanad for a different experience. Click here for my post that is dedicated only to Wayanad.
So far we had tea estates but with Coorg you move to the Coffee Plantations. Known as the “Scotland of India“, this lovely place has some amazing nature spots, trekking and hiking trails and lots of history and wildlife. With the Cauvery river flowing through, Coorg is a great spot for some white water rafting. Not surprising that some of the best nature spots are amazing waterfalls like the Abbey Falls and the Iruppu falls.
There is a lovely Elephant interactive zone at the Dubare Elephant Camp -a sure-shot fun experience for families with kids. Quite like Wayanad, Coorg is well-spread and hence, when planning your trip, keep your choice of activities in mind and then, pick your stay.
Must-Do Suggestion: Take a stop at the Tibetan Monastery on the foothills of Coorg. The place has a different type of Calm and Serenity.
Located in Karnataka, Chikmagalur is the “coffee land” of the state. The place is a popular weekend get-away from Bangalore. Quite like Wayanad and Coorg, this place is a district with several scenic spots and towns. It is one of the most popular places for a lot of activities like hiking, rafting and wildlife spotting. The name Chikmagalur means “younger daughter’s town”. It is said that the town was a dowry gift to the younger daughter of a chieftain. Interesting, right?
The Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is home to amazing wildlife like Tigers, deers, crocodiles and more. The place is a paradise for ornithologists with over 250 different species of birds. The Hebbe Falls and Kalhatti Falls are absolutely scintillating and enchanting. Kemmangundi and Mullayangiri are perfect peaks for trekking and hiking.
With all this, it cannot be more obvious that Chikmagalur is a perfect hill station for no matter what you want to do – some adrenaline-pumping activities or some quiet family time or just some couple time.
Must-Do Suggestion:Don’t miss the Baba Budangiri range – a perfect combination of amazing history with its mystic caves and nature treks along the way.
A quaint little hill station mid-way between Bengaluru and Chennai, Yercaud is all about a relaxing time amidst nature. A great weekend get-away amidst the coffee plantations for the residents of these two cities. What is appealing about Yercaud is its fairly non-touristy and unspoiled atmosphere.
The hill station is built around Emerald Lake. Most of the vantage points in the town are around this lake. One can plan to just spend some idyllic time just enjoying the natural beauty around the town. If you are up for a long trek, you should visit the Kiliyur falls, especially in the monsoon season. Yercaud also has a lovely Orchidarium, where you can not just see the lovely orchids, but also, buy a few.
Try staying in some of the Coffee estates to get a feel for this Hill station. My stay at the Grange Resorts was amazing – with lovely food, a trek in the coffee plantations and eating oranges straight from the trees. A unique experience.
Must-Visit Attractions: Definitely try out the dirt biking or the ATV rides in Yercaud
A less touristy option to Munnar, Devikulam is a beautiful hill station in Kerala. The Sita Devi Lake is the main attraction of this hill station. Legend has it that during the Ramayana days, Sita had a bath in this lake. Hence the name. This lake is not just a pristine water body but is said to have therapeutic properties owing the minerals in the lake. The lake is also, popular for trout fishing – something that brings a lot of people to this hill station. You can opt for a good stay in the tea estates and enjoy the calm atmosphere of Devikulam.
Must-Do Suggestion: Plan a visit to the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary for its unique animal and bird life including the Indian Star Tortoise and Grizzled Giant Squirrels.
9) Araku Valley
Araku Valley is a hill station in Andhra Pradesh, around 120 kms from Vizag. With its stunning waterfalls,river beach and the Borra Caves, Araku Valley is a beautiful destination that takes you away from the hustle-bustle of your normal life. Adding to the charm are the lovely coffee plantations around the Hill station. The hill station is often coupled with a visit to the Ananthagiri Hills.
Must-Do Suggestion: The Borra Caves is a must- do with its amazing multi-colored lighting , deep cavern systems and narrow crevices.
Masinagudi is a small hill-town at the foothills of Nilgiris, right below Ooty. This beautiful town is quite unusual as it does not boast of rich waterfalls and lakes but of some amazing flora and fauna. An extension of the Bandipur and the Mudhumalai forests, you can opt for some amazing safaris to spot tigers, leopards, elephants and bison. What is more is you do not really, need to look for them for they are sometimes visible from the roads themselves. I was lucky to spot some deer and elephants along the way.
Green, cool and beautiful, this is a great weekend getaway from cities like Bangalore and Mysore. There are plenty of unique resorts and stays available in Masinagudi – including some offering tree-top accommodations.
Must-Do Suggestion: No doubts here – you have to take a safari into the forests.
So, which one is your pick? Would love to hear from you – so drop in your comments below.