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Best hill station in South India

Discussion in 'South India' started by Shaan, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Shaan

    Shaan New Member

    I want to go to a hill station somewhere in South India with my wife. The area of India is new to us, and we are unaware of the places, in general, let alone the hill stations there, which we assume are a lot.

    We want to know which is the best hill station in South India, or at least get a list of some of the best hill stations, so we can decide which one to visit and when the right time would be to go.

    Please mention if there is something special about the hill station, or an important place which should be visited there.
     
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Moderator Staff Member

    Hello, @Shaan, welcome to the forum!


    Overview

    Looking for places covered with misty clouds, lush carpets of greenery and pleasant climates all-year round? You might be in the mood for hill stations and you're quite in luck, because the southern part of India has plenty of them. The best feature of these southern hill stations is their mild climate, unlike the extreme climates that the northern hill stations usually have. So whether you visit them during summer, monsoon or winter, you won't face mind-numbingly cold temperatures but just cooler temperatures to give you some respite from the heat of other low lying areas of the south. Additionally, plantations are quite many in this part of India too so you can find lots of green coverings everywhere. Are you ready? Then, let's begin listing some of the best hill stations in South India.

    Best Hill Stations in South India

    A bit on the popular side...

    1. Ooty (Tamil Nadu) - Maybe you've heard of North India's pride when it comes to hill stations which is Shimla. Shimla's counterpart in South India is none other than Ooty and much like the former, it was also once a British summer retreat. The beauty of Ooty is known far and wide, from the different regions of India, up to the distant countries around the globe. Ooty is easily accessible from most metro cities of the country but there's no better way to reach it than the famed Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Crossing through charming tunnels and bridges, passing by tea estates and with views of lush greenery all around, you're bound to remember this journey of a lifetime. Once you reach Ooty, the adventure won't stop but continue on as you explore the sights of the most popular hill station of the south. The Botanical Gardens bloom especially during the peak tourist summer season. It is here where you can explore the various plants and flowers of different regions of the country and even Asia. Even in the midst of the afternoon sun, climate here is very manageable and enjoyable. Formed by the damming of the Pykara River, the Pykara Lake is every bit as picturesque as any other international lake. You can indulge in motor boating or speed boating with your loved ones here. A lesser visited water body is the Avalanche Lake, a bit further from Ooty proper. However, it's very pristine and you can enjoy a serene time here, though boating activities are not allowed. There's also the Ooty Lake, where little ones can enjoy a variety of boating activities like pedal boating, motor boating and row boating. If you enjoy photography, you can reach the Doddabetta Peak, about nine kilometres away from Ooty proper. The views of the nearby hill stations and villages along with the distant mountains are quite stunning. Ooty is best visited during off-peak tourist seasons like monsoon or winter, as it can get very crowded during the peak of the summer heat. If you must visit during the summer, make sure you book a hotel room at least a month in advance.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Botanical Gardens, Pykara Lake, Avalanche Lake, Ooty Lake and Doddabetta Peak
    2. Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu) - Kodaikanal is yet another hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu. Unlike Ooty though, it isn't as crowded although it does get its fair share of local patrons. Once upon a time though, Kodaikanal was a very quiet hill station with just a few tourist infrastructures to boast of. Today, it has been developed and you're likely to find tons of hotels, restaurants and shops in different areas of the hill station. The star of the hill station, literally, is the Kodaikanal Lake. This star-shaped lake attracts most of the tourists because it has a few boating facilities that one can enjoy. Despite being a manmade lake, it still has that charm of a natural lake, especially since it has very clean waters and surroundings. A bit of an offbeat lake destination is the Berijam Lake, about an hour's drive away from the city proper. It is located amidst a forest reserve area so the views are very pristine. However, this is mainly an underdeveloped water body, there are no boating facilities nor eateries nearby so do plan ahead when visiting it. If you're visiting Kodaikanal just after the monsoon season, you can also explore some of its waterfalls, like the Bear Shola Waterfalls and Vattakanal Waterfalls. These waterfalls are approachable by trekking, which can make for an adventurous experience. There are also some idyllic places where you can while time away in Kodaikanal. The Bryant Park is one of them, where you can enjoy viewing wild flowers and plants, living here for hundreds of years already. Or maybe venture into the Chettiar Park, where the rare kurinji flower can be found. A word of caution though, this flower only blooms once every twelve years, so you might be looking for something in vain all the while. To calm your broken desires though, just visit the Kurinji Andavar Temple, a very charming little temple dedicated to Lord Murugan.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Kodaikanal Lake, Berijam Lake, Bear Shola Waterfalls, Vattakanal Waterfalls, Bryant Park, Chettiar Park and Kurinji Andavar Temple
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    Kodaikanal Nature (Image from Kumaravel)

    3. Munnar (Kerala) - Munnar, the place where nature and wildlife unites, the place where tea plantation abounds, the place that has captured the hearts of many travellers. Whether it's the views of the misty mountains, or the sprawling tea estates, you're sure to find every angle of Munnar captivating. Take the widely known path and explore the main attractions of Munnar. Start with the Top Station, apart from the wonderful views of the Western Ghats, you can enjoy the feeling of being one with the clouds here. There's also the Kundala Dam and Lake, surrounded by lush greenery all around, boating here would leave you calm and refreshed. An alternative is the Mattupetty Dam, which also has boating facilities but its location outside of the city proper makes it a bit more serene. There are also some waterfalls that you can visit in Munnar, but only do so during or after the monsoon season. The best rated waterfalls here are that of Attukal Waterfalls and Thoovanam Waterfalls. Also included in the must-see sights here is the Rajamalai National Park, a part of the Eravikulam National Park. The endangered Nilgiri tahr resides in this wildlife sanctuary and it is only approachable by walking after the bus reaches the last motorable road. You can also take the lesser known path and visit unusual attractions around Munnar. There's the Sita Devi Lake, about 22 kilometres away from Munnar, approachable by trekking for the last kilometre. Not known by many travellers, the lake has remained pristine and untouched by commercialisation. Or reach the Muniyara Dolmens, an ancient burial site whose origins are still not known until now. This attraction is about 55 kilometres away from Munnar though but very much worth a visit especially if you love history.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Top Station, Kundala Dam and Lake, Mattupetty Dam, Attukal Waterfalls, Thoovanam Waterfalls, Rajamalai National Park, Sita Devi Lake and Muniyara Dolmens
    4. Thekkady (Kerala) - Thekkady is mostly known for the Periyar National Park. This is not your usual wildlife sanctuary though as it offers lots more than just a jeep safari. You can indulge in day trekking, spot wild animals such as monkeys, deers, bisons and lots of bird species. Or you can opt for a more adventurous and thrilling night trekking, where you can try and spot nocturnal animals. Tigers and elephants are a bit more elusive and hard to spot though. You can also try out river rafting in the Periyar River, located within the national park premises. There are also other attractions around Thekkady though that you can explore. The Deepa World Spice and Ayurvedic Garden provides for tours around their spice garden. You can learn more about the health benefits of these spices and herbs as well as their use in the Ayurvedic practice. There's also the Mullaperiyar Dam, where you can try out speed boating whilst enjoying the views of the mountains around you. Last but not the least, enjoy a good last look of Thekkady through the Chellarkovil Viewpoint, which also gives an angle of the state of Tamil Nadu from its watch tower. Who says that hill stations are mainly for idyllic getaway lovers? Nope, with Thekkady, even adventure lovers can enjoy the scenic beauty of hill stations, with a twist!
    • Must Visit Attractions - Periyar National Park, Periyar River, Deepa World Spice and Ayurvedic Garden, Mullaperiyar Dam and Chellarkovil Viewpoint
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    Periyar National Park in Thekkady (Image from Jeevan Jose)

    5. Madikeri (Karnataka) - Casually combining heritage sites, religious sites and coffee plantations, Madikeri, located in the state of Karnataka, is another must visit hill station when in the south. It is where you can get your dose of history, spirituality and nature, all at once! Isn't that wonderful? If you're feeling quite a history buff for your first day, reach the Madikeri Fort. This fort was once the seat of Mudduraja but has now been converted into a government office. Yet you can still see traces of the bygone era in some of the structures inside the fort. Also worth visiting is the Gaddige Tombs, where the remains of the royal Kodava dynasty can be found. The tombs are surrounded by lush gardens and offers a view of the surrounding hill station. Feel like royalty when you visit the Raja's Seat, a short distance from the former attraction. The small pavilion is made of brick and mortar, slightly elevated too so that the kings who sat on the throne can have a good view of the area. If you're more of a spiritual person, try visiting the Omkareshwara Temple, built in the 18th century by a Kodagu king to appease the spirit of a Brahmin that he killed for his political ambitions. There's also the Namdroling Monastery, a full Tibetan settlement about an hour away from Madikeri proper. There are also many natural attractions around Madikeri, like the Abbey Waterfalls, Chelavara Waterfalls and Mallali Waterfalls. Don't miss the chance of trekking the highest peak in the district too, the Tadiandamol Peak.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Madikeri Fort, Gaddige Tombs, Raja's Seat, Omkareshwara Temple, Namdroling Monastery, Abbey Waterfalls, Chelavara Waterfalls, Mallali Waterfalls and Tadiandamol Peak
    Within the same states but lesser known...

    6. Valparai (Tamil Nadu) - On the second part of our list, we would cover some of the lesser known hill stations in the same states mentioned above. We begin with Valparai, located in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. Surrounded by lush tea plantations and misty coverings, it's hard to imagine that this little piece of heaven is merely kilometres away from the busy city of Coimbatore. Unlike the other hill stations in the state, Valparai is not crowded at all and remains tranquil even in summer season. A prime attraction here is the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Top Slip. Make sure you reach it early or book a safari in advance as only a limited number of vehicles and guests are allowed per day. You can spot wild animals such as macaques, deers and Nilgiri tahrs here. There are also a number of dams in the hill station that can look very picturesque when you visit after the monsoon season. The Sholayar Dam has a signature red-bricked appearance, which contrasts with the bright blue waters inside it. Though only approachable from a distance, you can get magnificent shots here. The Aliyar Dam is encircled by lush forests, which also makes for a nice area for wildlife spotting. The water in the dam can be low though during summer or winter season. The Koolangal River is another must visit here, with its crystal clear water that runs through lush forests and even tea estates. And for the top of the world feeling, reach the Nallamudi Viewpoint, about 10 kilometres away from Valparai proper.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Sholayar Dam, Aliyar Dam, Koolangal River and Nallamudi Viewpoint
    7. Kotagiri (Tamil Nadu) - Are you looking for a hill station that hasn't been plagued yet by commercialisation? A hill station where tranquility still dominates and natural sights prevail? Well, look no further than Kotagiri, merely an hour away from Ooty. Kotagiri still has that charm of older hill stations, it's not that modern, nor traditional. It has an assortment of guest houses which can make your stay more authentic. By 10:00 in the evening, shops close and you can enjoy the peace in the hill station. It was also once a British settlement so you can find traces of the colonial rule in some parts of the hill station. There's not much though that you can do here, aside from trekking, there are no attractions proper. You can indulge in nature trails mist the lush forests and tea plantations of the hill station if you'd like though. If you enjoy photography, the Kodanad Viewpoint is about 17 kilometres away from Kotagiri. Here, you can enjoy the view of the Nilgiri ranges on a clear day, along with the valleys below and tea estates. Also worth visiting is the John Sullivan Memorial, where you can learn more about the man who discovered Ooty. It is under two kilometres away from Kotagiri so well worth the trip as it takes you through history, with photographs and other memorabilia.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Kodanad Viewpoint and John Sullivan Memorial
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    Kotagiri (Image from Manot Jr.)

    8. Vagamon (Kerala) - Away from the more popular destinations of Kerala and you'd find Vagamon. It is only recently that this hill station has been attracting tourists but still not on the scope of popular hill stations such as Munnar or Wayanad. The meadows and pine forests of Vagamon can provide one with just enough rejuvenation before heading back home to their cities. As a bonus, you have the place almost to yourself, regardless of the season you visit. The Barren Hills, meadow after meadow of lush greenery, is a favourite amongst the travellers of Vagamon. It's enough to make you love the hill station more, especially as you can enjoy the scenic views to your leisure. You could also get lost in the Vagamon Pine Forests, or maybe indulge in a picnic with your loved one. Still have time? Trek to reach the Vagamon Kurisumala, where you would climb through steep hardened rocks. At the top of the hillock, you get an amazing view of the hill station and you can also visit the Christian church located here. The manmade Vagamon Lake is another must visit, where there are some boating facilities that you can enjoy.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Barren Hills, Vagamon Pine Forests, Vagamon Kurisumala and Vagamon Lake
    9. Ranipuram (Kerala) - Having the same landscapes as Ooty, Ranipuram in Kerala has been dubbed as the Ooty of Kerala. But don't worry because despite the similar landscapes, Ranipuram is not commercialised nor crowded unlike Ooty. Perhaps the reason why tourists don't reach this hill station as much is because it isn't easily accessible by public transport. Those with their private vehicles might find it easy to reach the hill station. The lush vegetation coupled with the evergreen Shola forests make the landscapes of the hill station distinct. Keep in mind that Ranipuram isn't much of a developed hill station yet so tourist infrastructures are not that plenty here. However, spotting wild animals here is not that uncommon because of the wild forests of the region. Some forest areas of the region are part of the Ranipuram Shola National Park too so make sure you explore them, especially if you love wildlife. There are also numerous trekking trails around Ranipuram that one can do, quite unexplored terrains that would delight the thrill-seeker in you.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Ranipuram Shola National Park and Nature Trails
    10. Chikmagalur (Karnataka) - The land of the coffee estates, Chikmagalur, is at the end of this list. Chikmagalur offers tons of attractions for travellers yet it isn't commercialised yet unlike other hill stations of its kind. It is also home to many religious sites, making your journey even more meaningful. One of the most popular temples here is the Sringeri Mutt, one of the four temples built by Adi Shankaracharya. The temple has many legends associated with it and has a long history behind it too, having been built in the 8th century. Its location upon a hillock gives one a view of the surrounding hill station clearly. There's also the Annapurneshwari Temple, dedicated to Goddess Annapurneshwari, with a typical Southern Indian architectural style. The deity here is dressed in golden garments which is quite a sight to behold. There's also the Cave of Babab Budangiri, which is also worth a visit because he was the one who introduced coffee beans in the country. He is important to both Hindus and Muslims, hence pilgrims of both religions can be found here. For a stunning view of the landscapes of Chikmagalur, trek to reach the Mullayanagiri, about 400 steps of uphill climb. It gives panoramic views of both valley views and mountain views around the hill station.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Sringeri Mutt, Annapurneshwari Temple, Cave of Babab Budangiri and Mullayanagiri
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    Chikmagalur (Image from Mallikarjuna)

    Conclusion

    If you think that southern India is merely about religious and historical sites, then take a double look at this list. If you're craving for adventure places, filled with views of the distant mountains, lush plantations and natural attractions, then venture into these hill stations of the south. Aside from the scenic views, the breath of fresh air can do wonders for your health too. Enjoy your trip to the southern part of India!
     

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