10 Must-Visit Hill Stations in South India

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.

1) Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal Lake - one of the Kodaikanal tourist places
Kodaikanal Lake – one of the Kodaikanal tourist places

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.

 2) Coonoor

View from Dolphin's nose, Hill station Coonoor
View from Dolphin’s nose                                             Image Credits: Thangaraj Kumaravel under CC by 2.0

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.

3) Munnar

Tea Gardens of Munnar, Hill station of India
Tea Gardens of Munnar                                                          Image Credits: Jeet Sen Under CC by ND 2.0

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.

4) Wayanad

Elephants from Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Elephants from Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary found along the Mysore – Sultanbathery highway

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. 

Must-Do Suggestion: Don’t miss the Eddakal caves for its Neolithic carvings or the Kuruvadweep Island for its natural ecological wonders.

5) Coorg

Abbey Falls in Hill station Coorg
Abbey Falls in Coorg

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.

6) Chikmagalur

View of the Hills surrounding the Hill station Chikmagalur
View of the Hills surrounding Chikmagalur

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.

7) Yercaud

Sunset at Emerald Lake in Yercaud, Hill stations of India
Sunset at Emerald Lake in Yercaud

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

8) Devikulam

Devikulam                                                                        Image Credits: Rajesh T Under CC by NC-ND -2.0
Devikulam                                                                                                      Image Credits: Rajesh T Under CC by NC-ND -2.0

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                                                             Image Credits: Motographer Under CC by NC-ND -2.0
Araku Valley                                                                                               Image Credits: Motographer Under CC by NC-ND -2.0

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.

10) Masinagudi

Spotted Deer in Masinagudi                                      Image Credits: Suresh Kumar R Under CC by NC-ND-2.0
Spotted Deer in Masinagudi                                                                  Image Credits: Suresh Kumar R Under CC by NC-ND-2.0

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.

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43 thoughts on “10 Must-Visit Hill Stations in South India”

  1. Wow! those are really some must visit places 🙂
    I haven't been to south India's tourist places yet, but seeing these wonderful places I think i'll have to make a trip down south 😉
    I loved this post of yours. Keep sharing 🙂

  2. Yep, I know of that one. Have been there and the unique thing about it is the really bright colored houses it has. 🙂 Not to mention the lake and the botanical garden near it. It is a great day-outing from Bangalore

  3. I am LOVING reading all your India posts! One of my favourite countries to travel in, fond memories of me and hubby backpacking from Kolkata to Bombay and onwards to Goa and back almost 11 years ago now! Can't wait to be back with the kids in tow this time 🙂 Next year we move to Bangladesh and look forward to travels in India again. Will be sure to look here for inspiration!

  4. Hey Arjun – Coonoor is close to Ooty, which can be reached by road from Chennai, Bangalore or Mysore. Ooty is accessible by railroad from Chennai as well. 😀 Hope this helps

  5. Thanks for Share Ami Bhat,
    I have a Question this is not a related south india. I live in delhi and i want to watch Goa beaches. before some time my friend vishal went Goa with family. He told me Goa is a beautiful place and the beaches of Goa looking wonderful.

    So Please Suggest me How many days good for my Goa Trip.
    India Travel Packages

  6. Thanks for stopping by Arjun. Goa is amazing and the beaches are really beautiful. You can spend anything from 3 days to 7 days just beach hopping in Goa, depending on your comfort. There is plenty to do there. 😀

  7. Wow great pics. A friend from work has been telling me I need to make a trip to Kerala. She always mentions the house boats and beaches, but these hill stations look amazing. Munnar looks really cool. I’m going to need to check this out.

  8. These are the best places to visit in India. The picture included in this article are very beautiful. Thanks for sharing this article.


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