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Highest hill station in India

Discussion in 'Travel advice' started by KumariJaya, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. KumariJaya

    KumariJaya New Member

    I have been to a umber of hill stations across India as I love traveling. I have also been throughout many different seasons to experience the atmosphere there as it is different during the summers and winters in the same destination.

    When it comes to hill stations, I actually want to go now to the highest hill station in India and would like to know which one this is and where it is located in India.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi, welcome to the forum!


    Distinguishing the highest hill station in India can be very difficult because of several reasons. For one, the country is very vast, there are hidden hill stations waiting to be explored and discovered until today. There are popular hill stations, as to which you can find information for easily online. But there are also remote hilly towns and villages, that remain under the radar of most tourists. On this guide, we would highlight the highest hill stations in India, those that are already known to the local community and also to the world. Keep in mind that this is just a mere guide, there are hundreds of hilly regions around India and not all of them are easily accessible. So for the hill stations that are easily accessible to the public, here's a list of the highest ones that you can visit in the country.

    A List of the Highest Hill Stations in India (Popular Hilly Regions)

    So first, let us define what a hill station is, at least in India. To be categorised as a hill station, a town, village or city must have a minimum elevation of 1,000 metres or about 3,281 feet. Most hill stations in India are within the 1,000 to 2,700 feet category. But there are some regions exceeding this average elevation, meaning, they are above 2,700 feet. Thus, we can categorize such hill stations as the highest hill stations in India. Also, it's important to understand that there are thousands of villages in India and some of them can be located at an even higher altitude than these popular hill stations below.

    1. Kalpa (Himachal Pradesh) - Kalpa is about 251 kilometres away from Shimla, located at a higher elevation compared to the nearby district headquarters of Reckong Peo. This small village is not as popular as the other hill stations in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Kalpa is accessed from Sangla, through narrow roads, with gorgeous tunnel-like formations above you, but can be scary when you look at the cliff-side. Perhaps most Hindus relate it to the Kinner Kailash Parikrama trek to the nearby Kinner Kailash range. But even for those who are non-Hindus, the hill station boasts of an idyllic beauty, where, yes, you can view the mountains of the Kinner Kailash more clearly. At times, the illusion is so clear that it's as if the mountains are just within your reach, though the trek does not fully reach to the top of the mountain, only to the peak where the shivalingam is located. Kalpa is one of the highest villages in the region, with an average elevation of 2,960 metres. It is not a commercialised hill station though, you can best categorise it as a leisurely destination. Around Kalpa, you would find various apple orchards and pine forests. You can visit the ancient Hindu and Buddhist Temple here, quite unique as it bears an architectural style of both religions. You can also visit the nearby villages of Roghi and Chini though accommodations are sparse to none in these regions. Once you visit Kalpa, it would be hard to leave, as the laid-back beauty of the hill station, coupled with the simplicity of life of the locals, would enamour you.
    • Average Elevation - 2,960 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Kinner Kailash Parikrama, Hindu and Buddhist Temple, Roghi and Chini
    Kalpa (Image from Jyotirmoy Gupta)

    2. Zuluk (Sikkim) - Nestled in the eastern part of Sikkim is the remote village of Zuluk, which was once a part of the Silk Trading Route to Lhasa in Tibet. Located at an altitude of 3,000 metres, Zuluk is approachable either from Gangtok or Rongli, where you can get the permit for accessing the village, since it is a restricted area. Zuluk mesmerises the traveller, offering different colours in summer, greenery in monsoon and a snow-white beauty in winter. A prime attraction here is the Thambi View Point, where you can get a clear view of the Kanchenjunga range. The approach to the viewpoint is challenging, as you would need to conquer 32 hairpin bends, also known as the Zig Zag Point or Bhool Bhulaiya. Fun and thrilling? Yes, but every bit as dangerous, especially during winter when the roads leading in and around the village are covered in snow. Other excursions out of Zuluk would lead you to Nathang Valley and Kupup Lake. The former is famed for its religious sites, a Buddhist monastery and Hindu temple, plus the streams that make the village look even more picturesque. The latter is an elephant-shaped high altitude lake, equally beautiful in its pure blue hue in summer or its frozen white hue in winter. Visiting Zuluk is a one-of-a-kind experience, but make sure that you leave all comforts behind, as there are no proper hotels here nor tourist facilities.
    • Average Elevation - 3,000 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Thambi View Point, Zig Zag Point or Bhool Bhulaiya, Nathang Valley and Kupup Lake
    3. Auli (Uttarakhand) - Next we have Auli, a famous skiing destination in Uttarakhand. Auli can be accessed all-year round but during winters, the approach is mainly through Joshimath and then by ropeway, since the roads leading to Auli are closed. With an average elevation of 3,046 metres, Auli is one of the highest hill stations in the state. There are various slopes in Auli that are perfect for both beginner and expert skiers, which become covered in snow during winter. Further, Auli has the Artificial Lake, which helps feed the snow gun machines in order to make the slopes smoother for skiing. If you're reaching Auli during summer, you can indulge in various treks around the hill station. The most popular treks here are around the Gurso Bugyal and Kwani Bugyal, which are both picturesque meadows filled with lush greenery during summer or monsoon. The Chattra Kund is a small lake, about a kilometre away from Gurso Bugyal, that renders one speechless with its natural beauty and serenity. In Auli, there are only a few accommodation options, though most are higher end ones. You can just reach Joshimath for more options, but staying in Auli can give you a relaxing and peaceful getaway.
    • Average Elevation - 3,049 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Artificial Lake, Gurso Bugyal, Kwani Bugyal and Chattra Kund
    4. Keylong (Himachal Pradesh) - Keylong is the headquarters of the Lahaul and Spiti Valley district of Himachal Pradesh. It is usually a stopover destination for travellers reaching Leh from Manali. However, the village remains inaccessible to tourists from the months of October until May, as roads are closed due to the heavy snow that plagues the region. Keylong is very vibrant, has a nice assortment of accommodation options and shops, that it can be considered a must visit in the state as well. Keylong has some Buddhist monasteries worth visiting, one of which is the Shashur Monastery. Located upon a hillock, the approach to the monastery is through very narrow roads. Sometimes, the monastery is referred to as the Gompa of the Blue Pines, owing to the pine trees surrounding the site. It also has a wide collection of thangkas, as well as wall paintings depicting stories from Buddhism. Drive past the Baralacha La, to reach the Suraj Tal, one of the highest lakes in the country. It is a small but picturesque lake, frozen white in winter but depicting a bluish green hue in the other seasons. Aside from being a necessary part of the Manali Leh route, Keylong has some attractions worth exploring as well.
    • Average Elevation - 3,080 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Shashur Monastery, Baralacha La and Suraj Tal
    Suraj Tal in Keylong (Image from Nitika Nathani)

    5. Badrinath (Uttarakhand) - Badrinath, located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, is known as one of the four dhams in the Char Dham Yatra. It is located on the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, with an average altitude of 3,300 metres. Being located in the mountainous Himalayan region, the roads to Badrinath are opened only from the end of April, until the last few weeks of October. The most popular attraction here is of course, the Badrinath Temple. The temple is located on the banks of the Alaknanda River, approachable from Joshimath, but the roads are quite narrow. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and revered sacred by many Hindus, the temple sees a rush of pilgrim for all the months that it remains open for visitors. Some pilgrims bathe in the Tapt Kund prior to entering the temple, as it is believed to heal people off of their sins. Nearby the temple, you can visit the Saraswati River, where the Bheem Pul can be found. According to local legends, this huge rock was carried by Bheema, so that Draupadhi can cross over the river. Further into the rock bridge, you would find the village of Mana, the last Indian settlement before the border with Tibet.
    • Average Elevation - 3,300 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Badrinath Temple, Alaknanda River, Tapt Kund, Saraswati River, Bheem Pul and Mana
    6. Gangotri (Uttarakhand) - Yet another pilgrimage hill station is Gangotri, located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. This pilgrimage town is situated at an altitude of 3,415 metres. It is regarded holy by many Hindus, primarily because it is one of the four dhams of the Chota Char Dham Yatra. The most popular attraction here is the Gangotri Temple, where the origin of the mighty Ganges River can be found. This origin is known locally as the Bhagirathi River, with its water coming from the Gangotri Glacier. With its ice-cold water, the river is believed to heal devotees of their sins, but beware, a dip here can be very freezing though satisfying. The temple premises has three shrines, one of which is dedicated to the Goddess Ganga. You can also witness the Ganga aarti done daily here, in the river banks. Much like the former hill station, the roads to Gangotri are closed during winter, from November to April, due to harsh weather conditions owing to the snow. Nearby to the temple, you can visit the twin waterfalls of Gauri Kund and Surya Kund, located on the river itself. These are small waterfalls, with the latter being famed because there's a small shivalingam here that you can see when the water is low. Finally, if you're feeling quite adventurous, you can also trek to reach the Gangotri Glacier, where the water from the Ganges River originates. This glacier is regarded as one of the largest ones in India and the trek can be very challenging but takes you through scenic landscapes.
    • Average Elevation - 3,415 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Gangotri Temple, Bhagirathi River, Gauri Kund, Surya Kund and Gangotri Glacier
    7. Chitkul (Himachal Pradesh) - Known as the last village before the Indo-China Border, Chitkul, is another remote hill station in the state of Himachal Pradesh. During winter, the roads to Chitkul remain inaccessible due to heavy snowfall, because of its high altitude of about 3,450 metres above sea level. Chitkul is such a mesmerising destination because it offers plenty of landscapes, ranging from meadows, grasslands, forests, apple orchards and yes, rocky terrains too. Chitkul is that picture-perfect destination we had always imagined, with the distant view of the snow-capped mountains, cattles grazing on the grasses and crystal-clear streams that round it all up. Every angle of the village provides one with different views that you might just need your camera ready every time. In Chitkul, there's not much to do, maybe try nature trailing in its lush forests or maybe visit some of its religious sites like the Chitkul Temple and Kagyupa Temple. Explore the charming village houses or the orchards, just take in all the views because it's unlikely that you'll find them in other hill stations of India.
    • Average Elevation - 3,450 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Chitkul Temple and Kagyupa Temple
    Chitkul (Image from Nimit Nigam)

    8. Leh (Jammu & Kashmir) - The adventurer's paradise, Leh, situated at an elevation of 3,500 metres, would surely find its place on this list. Leh is one of the districts of the Ladakh division of Jammu and Kashmir, the other one being Kargil. Leh was once an important trading route for the merchants reaching both Kashmir and Tibet. Now, the high altitude town boasts of the legacies of many Buddhist monasteries, which takes one to the glorious past of Ladakh. In Leh town proper, there are various attractions that one can visit. The Thiksey Monastery is known for its 40-feet high Maitreya Buddha statue. It is also considered as the largest monastery of the Ladakh division, complete with various areas like shrines, prayer rooms, stupas and even a library. Although fairly smaller, the Sankar Monastery is easily accessible from the city centre. It also provides one with a great view of the town of Leh since it is located on a hillock. The Leh Palace showcases the architectural style of the Namgyal dynasty, which ruled Ladakh for many centuries. While the palace suffered from the war during the 19th century, you can still find noteworthy areas like the main hall which has various portraits of the royal family or the walls depicting unique murals. Climb the top of the palace for a greater view of the town of Leh. You can also take excursions outside of the town, to reach various attractions like the Tso Moriri or Pangong Tso. A bit further from Leh is the Nubra Valley, where you would find the high altitude desert of Hunder. You can also visit high altitude villages like Karzok and Hanle, both of which are situated about 4,500 metres above sea level.
    • Average Elevation - 3,500 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Thiksey Monastery, Sankar Monastery, Leh Palace, Tso Moriri, Pangong Tso, Nubra Valley, Karzok and Hanle
    9. Kedarnath (Uttarakhand) - Also a part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra is the hill town of Kedarnath, considered as the most isolated dham out of all the four dhams. Like the former Himalayan hill stations, Kedarnath is closed for tourists during the winter months, from November to April each year. The pilgrimage to reach the Kedarnath Temple is quite challenging, as it requires trekking on foot for about 16 kilometres. The trek can be completed in around seven hours, depending on the physical fitness of the pilgrim. For those who have money though, you can complete the pilgrimage via helicopter ride, which would take you closer to the temple. In the temple proper, you can view the oddly shaped shivalingam and offer pooja directly. The temple premises is fairly small but as they say, the journey to get there is all that matters. You can also visit the Gauri Kund here, a hot water spring prior to reaching the temple. However, because of the floods that ravaged the region in 2013, there is not much water in the kund now. Further from the temple, you can visit the Bhairav Nath Temple, merely four kilometres away. It is located at an even higher altitude so make sure you are properly prepared for the journey. Nevertheless, this is another abode of the Lord Shiva that gives one a good view of the Kedarnath valley.
    • Average Elevation - 3,553 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Kedarnath Temple, Gauri Kund and Bhairav Nath Temple
    10. Yumthang Valley (Sikkim) - A pristine meadow located close to the village of Lachung in Sikkim is the Yumthang Valley. Yumthang Valley is one of the highest points in Sikkim, with an elevation of 3,564 metres above sea level. Because the area is ravaged by snow during winter, it is closed for tourism from the months of December until March or April. Visit the valley around April or May, to see the meadows in a riot of colours, owing to the presence of rhododendrons, poppies, primulas and various flowers. Visit the valley around October or November, to view it in a blanket of white snow. There is a forest guest house here but most travellers stay in Lachung and venture in Yumthang Valley for a day trip. You can also visit the nearby Yume Samdong, also known as Zero Point, about an hour away from the valley. Here, you can find snow all-year round and it is located even higher than the valley. However, due to its elevation, you can't stay here for more than a few minutes as you might encounter breathing issues. This is also the last point in the region before the border with China.
    • Average Elevation - 3,564 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Meadows and Yume Samdong
    Yumthang Valley Flowers (Image from Mo's Musings)

    11. Kaza (Himachal Pradesh) - Kaza is the headquarters of the Spiti division of the Lahaul and Spiti Valley district of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated at about 3,650 metres above sea level. That's not all though, various villages around Kaza are located at an even higher altitude than this. For example, about four kilometres away from Kaza town is the village of Komic. This village is known for being the highest motorable village in the world. It is situated about 4,587 metres above sea level and is home to the Tangyud Monastery, also known as the world's highest monastery. It has a white and red striped facade, built more like a fortified castle than a monastery. Then there's Hikkim, where you can find the world's highest post office. The average elevation of the village varies between 4,300 to 4,400 metres. Aside from the distinction, the village has picturesque views of mountains all around. Kibber is also located in Kaza, which is at an elevation of 4,270 metres above sea level. You can visit the Ki Monastery and the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary here. Despite all these high altitude villages being inhabited by locals, tourists are advised to make them day trips instead of staying in them. The higher altitude can lead to respiratory issues for the tourists who are used to staying in plain areas, unlike the locals who had already adapted to the extreme altitude conditions.
    • Average Elevation - 3,650 Metres
    • Must Visit Attractions - Komic, Hikkim and Kibber
    12. Valley of Flowers (Uttarakhand) - Last on this list is the famed Valley of Flowers National Park in Uttarakhand, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a high altitude valley, located at an elevation of 3,658 metres. The valley is located in the foothills of the western Himalayan region, so it remains closed for visitors during winter. The trekking trail is only opened from the months of June to October, where you would find the carpet of flowers quite mesmerising. Various flowers like orchids, rhododendrons, poppies, daisies and many more cover the meadows, giving it a rainbow-esque look. The national park can be approached by road only until Pulna and from there, you need to trek by foot to reach the meadow proper. The trek is about 10 kilometres long, taking you around beautiful forests, streams and rivers. Trekkers usually take a halt at Ghangaria before continuing the last four kilometre-trek to reach the national park proper. Make sure you do the trek early in the day as the valley closes for visitors at 17:00 in the afternoon daily.
    • Average Elevation - 3,658 Metres
    • Must Visit Attraction - Valley of Flowers National Park

    These are the highest of the most popular hill stations in India. Take the proper precautions when visiting these hill stations, as it's not unusual to acquire Acute Mountain Sickness in any of them if you do not follow the proper acclimatisation guidelines. If possible, stay at lower lying areas instead and make day trips to these hill stations. Good luck and I hope this helps you!

    Prakriti likes this.

  3. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    The highest hill station in India is called "Kunzum La", which is located at an altitude of 4,590 meters (15,060 feet) in the Himalayas. However, Kunzum La is not a traditional hill station and is mainly known for its scenic beauty and as a high-altitude pass that connects the Kullu and Lahaul valleys in Himachal Pradesh.

    In terms of traditional hill stations that are popular tourist destinations, the highest one is "Ladakh" which is located at an average altitude of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Other popular hill stations in India include Darjeeling, Shimla, Ooty, and Munnar, among others.
  4. Prits

    Prits Member

    Surprisingly, I have traveled a lot but never actually known that Kunzum La is the highest hill station actually haven't come across the name either, quite possibly because it may not be as popular as the other hill stations.
    I have also realized that a lot of people have started visiting the secluded places more now rather than the crowded and popular places, so I guess with time Kunzum La would be more known to travelers.

    Defiantly on my list of places to visit.