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Best hill station in North India

Discussion in 'North India' started by PoojaBakshi, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. PoojaBakshi

    PoojaBakshi New Member

    We are three families coming together after a long time, and we all want to go to some hill station together for a holiday. We are situated in North India, so the hill station has to be in the same area.
    What we are all confused with is which hill station we should go to.

    We don't know if we will be able to go on a holiday together soon or not, so we want to make this trip memorable, and I think we should choose the best hill station. According to your views and knowledge which is the best hill station in North India?
     
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!

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    (Images from Wikimedia, Mouth Shut and Trip Advisor)

    Overview

    Popular as summer retreats, hill stations have made their marks as tourist destinations around India. Their pleasant climates all-year round have made them a natural getaway to escape the heat of the plains. North India, in particular, has a varied number of hill stations. While summers in these hill stations are mild and cool, winters are particularly cold and can even witness snowfall in some places. It's difficult to handpick just one hill station out of all the beautiful hill stations in North India. While a few hill stations do stand out, keep in mind that even the hidden ones exude a different kind of allure, places where serenity intermingles with natural scenery.

    Best Hill Stations in North India

    The stars of the bunch...

    1. Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) - The capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla, is also the busiest hill station in the state. It was once the summer capital of the British and even now, traces of the bygone era can still be found in the hill station. That's not to say that the hill station hasn't kept up with modernity because it has been largely developed over the past couple of years. While Shimla is a bit on the crowded and commercialised side, its colonial charm still attracts tons of visitors all-year round. The Viceregal Lodge is the prime example of the Victorian style of architecture that prevailed in the hill station once upon a time. It has now been converted into a university but some parts of it is still open for tourists. Other British era structures within the hill station are the Gaiety Theatre, once the cultural centre of Shimla, and Annandale, a large expanse of greenery where the British used to watch sports events in. The Jakhoo Temple, with its bright red facade, is visible even from a distance. With a 108-feet statue of Lord Hanuman, this is the hill station's grandest temple. Dedicated to several Hindu deities, the Banthia Devta Temple, looks very striking as it has an all-wood facade. One of the oldest temples in Shimla is the Tara Devi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Tara. It requires a bit of a climb to reach as it is located on one of the hills of Shimla. Finally, take a stroll around The Mall and The Ridge to enjoy the modern Shimla. There's an assortment of shops and restaurants here where you can feast your eyes and your tummies in. Don't forget to enjoy the sunset in Shimla, a rich combination of pinks, yellows and oranges that can certainly melt all your worries away.
    • Must visit attractions - Viceregal Lodge, Gaiety Theatre, Annandale, Jakhoo Temple, Banthia Devta Temple, Tara Devi Temple, The Mall and The Ridge
    2. Manali (Himachal Pradesh) - How do you describe Manali in one sentence? With the gurgling Beas River flowing within it and a view of the snow-clad Himalayas, Manali is the picture perfect hill station. It's a destination fit for all types of travellers: honeymoon couples, families and friends. Simply put, Manali has everything that a hill station can offer to tourists. Sightseeing? Well, you can enjoy that in Manali and the sights it has to offer are very varied. Boasting of a traditional style of architecture, with its four-tiered roof and all wooden interiors, the Hadimba Devi Temple is one Manali's most popular temples. It is very simple though, with just a few carvings in its wooden windows and doors. Also worth visiting is the Manu Temple, dedicated to the Indian sage, Manu. It is the only Manu temple in India as well. The Vashisht Temple is dedicated to another Indian sage, Rich Vashisht. There's also a hot water springs within the temple that is supposed to heal the illnesses of devotees. If you're into natural attractions, there's the Jogini Waterfalls, reachable by a trek from the former temple. It's best visited during summer season though when temperatures are on the higher side. If you have children with you, do take them to see the Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art, where they can learn more about the culture and art of the Himachal people. Adventure? Well, head on to Solang Valley, open all-year round, where you can enjoy activities like skiing or sledding in winter and activities like zorbing and paragliding in summer. Rohtang Pass is open only a few months in a year and you get to play with snow here even during monsoon season. Wildlife? There's the Manali Sanctuary, where you can spot animals such as musk deers, monals, leopards and snow leopards.
    • Must visit attractions - Beas River, Hadimba Devi Temple, Manu Temple, Vashisht Temple, Jogini Waterfalls, Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art, Solang Valley, Rohtang Pass and Manali Sanctuary
    3. Mussoorie (Uttarakhand) - The Queen of the Hills, Mussoorie, is also included in this list. They don't call it Queen of the Hills for nothing, its beauty is unlike any other. From the views of the distant Himalayas and the natural attractions within it, Mussoorie is yet another can't be missed hill station in North India. The manmade Mussoorie Lake stands as the hill station's most popular attraction. Boating around the lake is especially enticing during the night time, as you look into the glowing lights of the hill station. Ride the ropeway to reach Gun Hill, or if you're into trekking, it is also reachable by foot. From this peak, you can enjoy a commanding view of the valley below and the Himalayan ranges. The highest peak in Mussoorie is Lal Tibba and it offers the best view of the Himalayan ranges. The Kempty Waterfalls is a bit commercialised and best visited during off-peak season. It is popular amongst tourists and locals alike as it has been developed as a picnic ground. A number of temples also line Mussoorie, like the Nag Devta Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the Surkanda Devi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Parvati. Last but not the least is the Benog Wildlife Sanctuary, where dense forests abound along with numerous bird species. Wild animals like tigers and leopards might be hard to spot here though but the scenery itself makes up for it.
    • Must visit attractions - Mussoorie Lake, Gun Hill, Lal Tibba, Kempty Waterfalls, Nag Devta Temple, Surkanda Devi Temple and Benog Wildlife Sanctuary
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    Mussoorie (Image from Curious Eagle)

    4. Nainital (Uttarakhand) - Did you know that Nainital was once home to about 50 lakes? Due to modernism though, the number of lakes in the hill station had been reduced. Still, the remaining lakes here are quite beautiful. Starting with the Naini Tal, or Naini Lake, from which the hill station was named after. The picturesque views of the mountains, the floating swan boats and the abundance of geese, are the main features of the lake. You can also visit the Goddess Naina Devi Temple, located on one end of the lake. Other lakes around Nainital worth exploring are the Bhim Tal and Naukuchia Tal. Nainital also has its own ropeway which takes you to the Snow View Point, a vantage point with clearer views of the snow-capped mountains. One of the few high altitude zoos in India, the Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo, is also worth visiting. Here, you can spot wild animals like royal Bengal tigers, sambars, Tibetan wolves and Himalayan bears. And finally, the Eco Cave Gardens, although artificially made, can be a fun attraction for the little ones. The caves were designed to mimic natural caves and their appearances to give visitors an authentic wildlife experience. Spend a little more and choose a lake-facing hotel when in Nainital, the experience of seeing the sun rising right from your hotel window can be exhilarating.
    • Must visit attractions - Naini Tal, Goddess Naina Devi Temple, Bhim Tal, Naukuchia Tal, Snow View Point, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo and Eco Cave Gardens
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    Nainital (Image from Sporadic)

    5. Gulmarg (Jammu & Kashmir) - Gulmarg is one of the best winter destinations in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Covered in deep snow when December comes in, the beauty of the hill station is undeniable. If you're someone who loves cold temperatures and would love to play with snow, Gulmarg should be at the top of your list. Snow activities like skiing, sledging, snow boarding and heli skiing can all be done in Gulmarg. The Gulmarg Gondola can take you to the higher phases where you can enjoy skiing if you're an expert already. If not, you can also just trek to reach the Apharwat Peak, the highest point of Gulmarg, covered with snow almost all-year round. Even at Gulmarg's lower levels, you can enjoy nature trailing around the Outer Circle. Finally, you can also visit the ancient Shiva temple here, known as the Rani Temple. It requires a bit of a climb though, about 90 steps, so it might not be suitable to visit for the older ones. Some refer to Gulmarg as Paradise on Earth, rightfully so, especially during winter, when the whole hill station is covered with thick blankets of snow.
    • Must visit attractions - Gulmarg Gondola (Phase I and Phase II), Apharwat Peak, Outer Circle and Rani Temple
    For the adventure lovers...

    6. Bir Billing (Himachal Pradesh) - Craving for an activity that would make your adrenaline rush like crazy? Have you tried paragliding yet? While there are many paragliding sites around India, Bir Billing is touted as one of the best destinations for it. Although these two hill stations are unique from each other, located about 14 kilometres away from one another, they become one when it comes to paragliding. Billing is the jumping point while Bir is the landing point for paragliding. Both are very picturesque hill stations, away from the maddening crowds of other hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. Bir is best described as a small town, filled with Buddhist monasteries and of course, Tibetan settlements. Most of the attractions of the small town can be covered by foot. On the other hand, Billing is an expanse land of meadows, beautifully setup during summer season. In fact, paragliding season is between the months of March to May and also from September to November. The cool breeze upon you while you're floating in the air would surely make you want to paraglide more and more and more.
    • Must do activity - Paragliding
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    Bir Billing (Image from Adventure Billing Paragliding)

    7. Kufri (Himachal Pradesh) - Just 17 kilometres away from Shimla is Himachal Pradesh's oldest skiing destination, Kufri. The slopes in Kufri are varied so beginners in skiing can find a spot that would work well for them. For the ones expert in skiing already, head on to the Mahasu Ridge, a bit further from Kufri but offers more advanced slopes for skiing. Because Kufri is primarily a skiing destination, it's best visited during winter season, in contrast to the former which needs to be visited during summer. For the little ones, Kufri also has a number of adventure spots for them. There's the Indira Tourist Park where yak riding and horse riding can be enjoyed. The Kufri National Park allows for tourists to enjoy wildlife safaris as well. The Kufri Fun World has an assortment of rides that the whole family can enjoy. And if you're someone who enjoys trekking to view points, Fagu is merely six kilometres away from Kufri itself.
    • Must do activities - Skiing, Yak Riding, Horse Riding, Wildlife Safari and Trekking
    8. Auli (Uttarakhand) - Uttarakhand also has its fair share of a skiing destination and that is none other than Auli. During summer, the hill station is a mixture of different colours of green, yellow and red, basically blooming in all aspects. During winter, the whole hill station is covered in thick blankets of snow. While it can be visited during both seasons, winters are the best for engaging in skiing or any other winter activity. There are different slopes around Auli, ranging in difficulty for beginners and experts in skiing. The Auli Artificial Lake is especially important as it feeds the snow machines of Auli to make the slopes even smoother. But if you're visiting during the summer season, there are a number of treks around Auli that you can also do. An easy trek to do is through the Gorson Bugyal, which is just three kilometres away from Auli. It looks especially stunning during summer when the meadow is enveloped in different shades of green. Further from the meadow is the Chattra Kund, a small lake perfect for a relaxing picnic. Chenab Lake is a bit further away and requires more difficult trekking but its pristine beauty is all worth the effort.
    • Must do activities - Skiing and Trekking
    • Related thread - Auli
    9. Chopta (Uttarakhand) - Hailed as the Mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand, Chopta is a delight for the adventure lovers. It's a little explored hamlet nestled in protected area of Kedarnath. The landscapes of the hill station resemble that of Switzerland, from the large expanse of meadows, to the distant snow-covered mountain peaks. In winter, the entire hill station experiences snowfall and by January, it's covered almost entirely by snow. In summer, the region is teeming with picturesque beauty, as the leaves and flowers lend their colourful appeal to the place. It is also revered sacred by devotees of Lord Shiva as the highest of the Panch Kedars, the Tungnath Temple, is located here. It requires a challenging trek of about 3.5 kilometres though. Also reachable by trekking is the Deoria Tal, which requires a four to five hours trek from Chopta itself. The lake, surrounded by pines and lush greenery, is an untouched natural attraction in the hill station. If you love trekking through unexplored regions, Chopta is a good destination for that.
    • Must do activity - Trekking
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    Tungnath Temple in Chopta (Image from Paul Hamilton)

    10. Leh (Jammu & Kashmir) - If barren landscapes are more of your interest, then Leh in Jammu & Kashmir might garner your interest. Even reaching this hill station is challenging as you pass through some of the highest mountain passes in the country. It's a place where modernity is limited, where civilisation is scanty and where comfort isn't as well known. If you're up for a true adventure, then Leh might fit well into your itinerary. Roads leading to Leh are open a few months in a year only, generally closed all throughout winter until summer. This short period of time between June to October are your only chances of seeing the region, except if you decide to reach Leh via flight, which can also be costly. Leh is home to a number of Buddhist monasteries, ancient and quite scenic in themselves. You can find them in the city centre of Leh itself, like the Sankar Monastery and the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa. But if you're a true blue adventure freak, head on to excursions close to Leh to truly appreciate the hill station. There are several treks around Leh that you can indulge in but none of them are for the faint-hearted. They even require at least a few days to fully complete. Top-rated treks around Leh are that of the Kangyatse Peak, Suru Valley and Sham Valley. There are also some lakes around Leh, like the Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri. Bring your camping gears and gaze under the stars while enjoying the views of these lakes.
    • Must do activity - Trekking and Camping
    Explore these off the beaten track hill stations...

    11. Khajjiar (Himachal Pradesh) - Just about 22 kilometres away from Dalhousie is the tiny hill station of Khajjiar. If Uttarakhand has Chopta as its Mini Switzerland, Himachal Pradesh has Khajjiar as its Mini Switzerland. With the vast meadows, surrounding deodar trees and a lake in the middle, Khajjiar is every bit as picturesque as the mentioned country. Khajjiar is idyllic and tranquil, not as crowded as other hill stations in the state. If your idea of a getaway is just to relax, do nothing at all and bask in the beautiful views around you, pack your bags and go to Khajjiar already. There are a few attractions around the hill station though to keep you busy for a day or two. The Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary is located between Dalhousie and Khajjiar. It was once a hunting reserve for the royal dynasty of the district but has been converted into an animal reserve thereafter. Here, you can spot animals like deers, gorals and some bird species. Within the hill station itself, there's the Khajjiar Lake, a small lake located in the middle of Khajjiar. Beside it is the Khajji Naga Temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity, Naga. It has a very simple facade, wooden interiors and also has idols of other Hindu deities inside.
    • Must visit attractions - Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, Khajjiar Lake and Khajji Naga Temple
    12. Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh) - A cozy little cantonment town in Himachal Pradesh, Kasauli is yet another off the beaten track hill station that you must explore. For the most part, it is a quiet and scenic hill station, perhaps because of the presence of the army in the area. Most of the attractions in the hill station can be covered by foot too, perfect for those who love walking or trekking. If you adore foggy mornings, misty views of the jungles and lazy afternoons, Kasauli has them all for you. Its prime attraction is the Monkey Point, approachable after a steep trek from the hill station's city centre. At the top, there's a Hanuman Temple that you can visit as well. Cameras and mobile phones are not allowed at this point though as it's a cantonment area so better leave them in your hotel or vehicle. A short trek of about two hours, through the Gilbert Trail, would take you around lush jungles and scenic views. For enjoying the different colours of the sun setting, head to the Sunset Point of Kasauli, which also requires a bit of trekking to reach. If you're into religious attractions, you can also visit the Christ Church Kasauli and Baptist Church Kasauli, although both are fairly small churches.
    • Must visit attractions - Monkey Point, Hanuman Temple, Gilbert Trail, Sunset Point, Christ Church Kasauli and Baptist Church Kasauli
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    Kasauli (Image from Wikimedia)

    13. Pangot (Uttarakhand) - Pangot is a haven for bird watchers especially when visited during the migratory winter season. It is about 20 kilometres away from Nainital so you can combine one trip for these two hill stations. This is where the Pangot and Kilbury Bird Sanctuary is located, home to about 250 species of resident birds. The dense forest coverings of pines, rhododendrons and oaks provide the birds with their habitat. The months of November to February are the best times for exploring the region, when additional migratory birds flock to the bird sanctuary. Commonly spotted bird species here are that of the rufous-bellied woodpeckers, brown-wood owls, laughing thrushes, collared grosbeaks and many more. There are also plenty of jungle lodges outside of Pangot, so you can opt to stay overnight here to fully enjoy your bird watching experience. And when you hear the chirping of the birds early in the morning from your room, the sounds lulls you back to peace and serenity.
    • Must visit attraction - Pangot and Kilbury Bird Sanctuary
    14. Munsiyari (Uttarakhand) - Munsiyari literally means a place with snow, a designation to the hill station's appearance during winter season. Once a restricted area, it has now been opened to tourists, particularly trekkers who love offbeat trails. For unspoiled terrains, Munsiyari wins in that category. The Birthi Waterfalls, about 30 kilometres away from Munsiyari proper, is an immaculate waterfall. It requires a bit of trekking to reach, although it isn't that difficult to traverse. Unlike other waterfalls, this one has remained beautiful, untouched by litter and crowds. The water falls from a height of about 400 feet and there's a small pool underneath that you can swim in. The Thamri Kund also requires trekking to reach, a bit more difficult as it has ups and downs. This lake is revered sacred by locals as they believe that praying here during times of drought can help in making the rains appear. Last is the Kalamuni Temple, also revered very sacred by the locals. The temple is fairly small and is dedicated to Goddess Kali. On a clear day, you can view the Panchchuli Peaks from the top of the temple.
    • Must visit attractions - Birthi Waterfalls, Thamri Kund and Kalamuni Temple
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    View from Munsiyari (Image from Design Adda)

    15. Yusmarg (Jammu & Kashmir) - About 47 kilometres away from the capital of Jammu & Kashmir is Yusmarg, a little known hill station in the state. Despite its proximity to the capital, it's uncommon for tourists to flock to region. The landscapes of the hill station has remained virgin because of this. This is the place where lakes remain lakes, wherein boating is not a sight to see or an activity to enjoy. Filled with lush green meadows especially at the peak of summer season, the views in the hill station are unparalleled. Nearby the meadows is the Doodh Ganga, a small stream filled with clear water. The Nilnag Lake is the hill station's main attraction, virgin and remains as pristine because it's not commercialised still. Trails are also abundant around the region, with the Chadora trek being the main one. This trek is fairly easy but requires a whole day to complete. Fruit orchards are every where too and if you're lucky, you might spot a wild cherry or strawberry along the way.
    • Must visit attractions - Doodh Ganga, Nilnag Lake and Chadora
    Conclusion

    More than being summer retreats, hill stations stand out because of their scenic beauty. They are destinations where nature still wins amidst modernity and commercialisation. You can choose to stay in one of the most popular hill stations in North India. Or maybe find your way into these adventure hill stations where your courage and bravery will be tested. Or perhaps you're more of an unconventional travellers, then why not venture into these off the beaten track hill stations? Whichever hill station you choose, one thing's for sure, it's going to be an experience like no other. Enjoy and have fun!
     

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