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Hill Stations in Andhra Pradesh

Discussion in 'South India' started by Manveer88, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. Manveer88

    Manveer88 New Member

    I am going to Andhra Pradesh for a family wedding. I will be there with my wife, kids, and parents. We will be with the family for ten days and for the rest of our time there we want to go to some hill station there, but I am unaware of any hill stations there.

    Would members please be kind enough to provide details about hill stations in Andhra Pradesh.
     
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!


    Overview

    Andhra Pradesh is 1 of the 29 states of India, located in the southern part of the country. As compared to states like Kerala or Goa though, Andhra Pradesh isn't advertised much as a tourist destination. In some ways, this has helped preserved the beauty of the region but in a way, has also made it an underrated tourist destination. From natural attractions like beaches, waterfalls and caves, to heritage sites like forts and even some of the most elaborate religious sites like temples, Andhra Pradesh has something to offer for every type of traveller or tourist. Much less talked about are the hill stations of the region, hidden under the radar of popular hill stations in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Yet the beauty and serenity of these hill stations in the state are sure to keep you craving for more.

    Hill Stations in Andhra Pradesh

    1. Araku Valley - 'An Unspoiled Paradise'

    About 150 kilometres away from the industrial hub of Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam, is the hill station of Araku Valley. This popular hill station in the state can be accessed after a two-hour or so train ride away from Visakhapatnam. The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, also known as APTDC, even has the Araku Rail Cum Road Tour, comprising of a combined train ride to reach the hill station and bus ride to go back to Visakhapatnam.

    The train journey is very picturesque at it passes through many bridges and tunnels, all while the unending views of the Eastern Ghats surround you. It even passes by the Shimiliguda Railway Station, one of the highest broad gauge lines in India. Every turn, curve, bridge and tunnel are worth capturing so if you take this transportation route, you'll be busy taking Instagram-worthy pictures all through the trip.

    Araku Valley in itself is paradise on Earth, with its unpolluted natural beauty. The smell of the aromatic coffee plantations, the greener landscapes and the pleasant climate are sure to keep you relaxed. There are some attractions around the hill station to keep you busy for a day or two.

    The Padmapuram Botanical Gardens, once an important vegetable farm for soldiers of the World War II, has been converted into a tourist attraction. The wide variety of plants, flowers and trees give you not only a blast of colours, but also a respite from the polluted air in the city. If you have the time, why not stay in the famed Tree Top Huts of the garden?

    Close to the gardens is the Araku Tribal Museum, taking you through the history of the tribes in the region. The museum itself was made using mud and clay to resemble the local houses of the tribes of the region. Artefacts such as weaponries, housewares, farming items and even jewelries can be found in display here. To support the local communities, you can even buy handicrafts in the museum, made by the tribal people themselves.

    A few kilometres away from Araku Valley, you can find the Ananthagiri Hills. This is the highest point in the hill station, mostly known for its coffee and spice plantations along with the scenic waterfall views. Usually though, this point is used to access the Borra Caves, about 37 kilometres away. Known for its limestone formations of stalagmites and stalactites, formed over millions and millions of years ago, this is an adventurous and thrilling attraction that natural history lovers would enjoy.

    Just about four kilometres away from the caves, approachable only by a four-wheel vehicle, is the Katiki Waterfalls. After the bumpy ride, you need to trek for another kilometre to reach the waterfalls itself. The beauty of the waterfalls is undeniable though, fresh water falling from a height of 40 feet, which looks even more majestic during monsoon season.

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    Katiki Waterfalls (Image from Group Outing)

    While Araku Valley is Andhra Pradesh's most popular hill station, it remains relatively less crowded than the other known hill stations in South India. If you love scenic views coupled with adventure attractions, Araku Valley should be at the top of your list. Don't forget to take home some fresh coffee beans as souvenirs of your first trip in the region.
    • Elevation - 2,989 feet
    • Must visit attractions - Padmapuram Botanical Gardens, Araku Tribal Museum, Ananthagiri Hills, Borra Caves and Katiki Waterfalls
    2. Horsley Hills - 'The Ooty of Andhra Pradesh'

    In the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh lies the small hill station known as Horsley Hills. It's a sleep little hill station, with just a few attractions to keep you busy, for a day at the most. The hill station's proximity to both Bangalore and Chennai makes it a preferred one-day getaway by locals from these cities. But truth be told, it is still under the radar of most tourists in the region.

    What sets Horsley Hills apart from other hill stations is that the entire hill station can be covered by foot, even in just one day. Perhaps this is also its best feature, as for those who have limited time, they can fully explore the hill station on a weekend. The sight of the surrounding flowers, the smell of the Eucalyptus trees and the overall serenity can calm your weary spirits.

    A few attractions dot the small hill station, like the Horsley Hills Environment Centre. For a nominal fee of Rs. 10 per person, you can explore the wildlife in the centre, like deers, crocodiles and some birds. Within the centre, you can also visit Horsley's Bungalow, the place where the WD Horsley stayed during his stay in the hills. And yes, the hill station was named after him, since after all, he was the one who discovered it. If you have the time, also visit the Grand Old Eucalyptus Tree planted by WD Horsley himself in 1859.

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    Grand Old Eucalyptus Tree (Image from Trip Advisor)

    There are also three view points located close to the bungalow, namely, View Point for Horsley Hills, Valley View Point and Sunset View Point. All offers picturesque views of the hills, valleys and sunsets, respectively. You can capture the best views of the hill station from here. Some view points require a bit of climbing down though so be careful.

    For the adventure lovers, Freak Outs is a camping site in the hill station that offers thrilling activities like ATV riding, trekking, rappelling and hurdle crossing. Each game costs Rs. 100 though so it can be a bit on the expensive side. There is also only one resort here managed by the APTDC, known as the Haritha Resort. Rates are reasonable though as the rooms are quite comfortable and clean. Do bring some snacks as there is only one restaurant here, also located within the resort.
    • Elevation - 4,230 feet
    • Must visit attractions - Horsley Hills Environment Centre, Horsley's Bungalow, Grand Old Eucalyptus Tree, View Point for Horsley Hills, Valley View Point, Sunset View Point and Freak Outs.
    3. Lambasingi - 'The Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh'

    Just about 100 kilometres away from Visakhapatnam is the tiny village of Lambasingi. It might be unknown to most travellers because it has been emerging as an offbeat tourist destination only recently. The hill station is not yet developed, there are no hotels nor other tourist infrastructures here. But there's one reason why it is worthy of a visit, it is the only known place in South India that receives snowfall annually during winter season.

    During winter season, temperature in this hill station drops as low as 0°C. But even throughout the year, temperatures rarely exceed 10°C, making it an ideal summer getaway when you're in the region. If you're quite lucky, you might experience snow or snowfall when you visit during the end of December or January.

    Lambasingi itself doesn't have as many attractions, aside from the usual coffee and spice plantations plus a few apple orchards. About six kilometres away from the hill station though, you would find the Thajangi Reservoir. The reservoir forms a small water body, almost like an artificial lake, from the water released by it. Surrounded by the misty views of the distant mountains, it's an ideal place for a small picnic with your loved ones.

    About 27 kilometres away from the hill station is another famous attraction, the Kothapally Waterfalls. It requires a bit of a trek though to reach the waterfalls, which can be challenging for those who are not physically fit. The trek is very rewarding though and takes you around pristine forests in the region. The water from the waterfalls is quite clean too, perfect for bathing after your tiring adventure.

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    Kothapally Waterfalls (Image from Sudhakar)
    • Elevation - 3,000 feet
    • Must visit attractions - Thajangi Reservoir and Kothapally Waterfalls
    4. Nallamala Hills - 'A Series of Hills'

    Spread over six districts of Andhra Pradesh are the hills of Nallamala, with its highest peak being at 3,608 feet. It also includes a few districts in the newly formed state of Telangana. Nallamala Hills are comprised of some of the best untouched forests in South India. Away from modernity, abandoned due to shortage of water and home to some of the most hidden tribes, it is a destination that you're bound to remember forever.

    Since the hills are spread over a huge area, there are quite some places that you can explore. Starting with Srisailam, a pilgrimage town, located in the Kurnool district of the state. Revered sacred by Shiva devotees is the Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple in this town. It is 1 of the 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva. Keep in mind that photography is not allowed in the temple premises so it's best to leave your cameras at your hotel or car. Also worth visiting is the temple dedicated to Shiva's consort, Parvati, the Bhramarambha Temple.

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    Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple (Image from Holidify)

    Accessible via ropeway is the Patal Ganga, another sacred site in the town. Here, devotees bathe in the ghats, in the belief that it can cleanse them off of their sins. You can also enjoy a boat ride in the nearby dam which looks quite serene and picturesque. Finally, if you still have time, reach the Akkamahadevi Temple Caves via boat ride, which lasts for almost an hour. This temple cave has a sacred Shivalingam that devotees visit to pay their respects to the Hindu deity.

    Further away from Srisailam is Ahobilam, about 5 hours of driving time away. The Nava Narasimha Temples, a series of nine temples, are located in this small town. Some can be visited only by trekking while others can be approached by road. These nine temples are dedicated to Lord Narasimha, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, a deity in Hindu mythology. Also worth visiting as part of the pilgrimage are Prahalada Badi, a small temple located within a cave, and Ugra Sthambam, a huge rock from which it is believed that Lord Narasimha emerged from.

    From Ahobilam, about 70 kilometres away, is the town of Mahanandi. There are 9 Nava Nandis within the 15 kilometres radius of the town but the main one is the Mahanandiswara Temple. A huge Nandi statue, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, is located just outside the temple. Although the temple draws thousands of pilgrims, the main attraction here are three sacred lakes located within the temple premises that have crystal clear waters. Quite fascinating is that the lakes never run out of water, regardless of the season.

    The Nallamala Hills offer not only pristine forest sights but a religious exploration. This is not your usual tourist destination as not everything would be laid out for you. Explore the pristine hills of this region, get a bit lost, but enjoy every moment of it. Spot a wild animal, trek to your heart's desire and soak in the beauty of this one-of-a-kind hill station, only found in Andhra Pradesh.
    • Elevation - 3,608 feet
    • Must visit attractions - Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Bhramarambha Temple, Patal Ganga, Akkamahadevi Temple Caves, Nava Narasimha Temples, Prahalada Badi, Ugra Sthambam and Mahanandiswara Temple
    5. Tirumala - 'An Unlikely Hill Station'

    Tirumala has well made its mark in the map as the home of the richest temple in the world, the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. The temple lies on the seventh peak of the hill station, known as Venkatadri. Everyday, thousands of devotees flock to the temple to offer their respects to Lord Venkateswara. Even the temple exudes elegance as many of its sections are covered in gold. Since it is located in a peak, you need to climb over 3,000 steps to reach the temple. Prior to visiting the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple though, some believe that it's mandatory to visit the Sri Varahaswami Temple first.

    You can also visit the Akasa Ganga, about five kilometres away from the temple mentioned above. This waterfall is rendered sacred by pilgrims as it is believed that its waters originate from the feet of Lord Venkateswara. You can trek to reach the waterfalls or approach it by road. The water in the waterfalls is quite clean too, suitable for bathing, especially after a tiring trek. Although not a pilgrimage site, the Sila Thoranam is a must visit for natural history lovers. This is one of the only three rock arch formations in the world, which can only be found in Tirumala.

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    Sila Thoranam (Image from Panoramio)

    Tirumala might be known more as a pilgrimage destination but interestingly, it also fits the category of a hill station. As such, you can plan your pilgrimage during summers so temperatures would be more bearable.
    • Elevation - 3,202 feet
    • Must visit attractions - Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Sri Varahaswami Temple, Akasa Ganga and Sila Thoranam
    Conclusion

    Desperately craving for a new place to explore? Pristine, untouched by modernism and charming in their own ways, the hill stations of Andhra Pradesh might just cater to your wanderlust needs. Be careful though, you might not ever want to go home as the serene beauties of these hill stations pull you in. Good luck and enjoy your trip to Andhra Pradesh!
     

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