Hill stations are one of the most sought-after destinations for tourists across the world. WhetherÂ you are on a solo adventure trip, an unplanned trip with friends, a family tour or even on yourÂ romantic vacation, the hill stations of South India offer you a plethora of options to rejuvenate.
Here are the top 5 hill stations of South India:
Neatly tucked away in the forest borders of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Wayanad happens to beÂ a complete tourist package. Located on the windward side of the majestic Western Ghats, itÂ is surrounded by lofty ridges, rugged terrain, as well as dense forests. With a conglomerate ofÂ thrilling waterfalls, serene lakes, charming resorts and homestays, picturesque plantations and historical caves, Wayanad also offers you many different ways to explore nature.
There are many things to do here but most tourists prefer to enjoy the peace and tranquillityÂ of this quaint hill station. Others prefer to immerse in the cultural beauty of Wayanad as thisÂ place boasts its various tribal cultures and gives you a feel of jungle life. WithÂ an elevation of 2100 meters above sea level, Wayanad is breezy most of the time and also isÂ a perfect place to witness wildlife such as elephants, tigers etc.
Nearest Railway station: Calicut, which is about 62 km away
Nearest Airport: Calicut International Airport, which is about 65 km away
Pic Courtesy: Thrillophilia
Sweetly called â€˜The Princess of Hill stationsâ€™, Kodaikanal is your ideal misty-cladÂ mountain getaway with a wonderful climate. Located atop the Deccan Plateau inÂ the state of Tamil Nadu, this captivating place is a much-needed break from your mundaneÂ city life.Â There are lakes, waterfalls, valleys, parks, rock pillars and many more sight-seeing placesÂ which youâ€™ll love to explore on your own. There are many activities which you can do hereÂ like boating, trekking, trails etc. The rolling hills, scenic waterfalls, and the vibrant culture make for an enchanting experience altogether.
Kodaikanal means the â€˜gift of the forestsâ€™ in Tamil and youâ€™ll realize where it has come fromÂ when you witness the large presence of flora in this area. There are Pine, Pear, Eucalyptus,Â Acacia, as well as Cypress trees. The dahlias and water lilies found in abundance over here further enhances theÂ beauty of this place.Â As a tourist hotspot, you can also shop for some of the handicrafts items or taste theÂ homemade chocolates available here. At an altitude of 2100 meters above sea level,Â Kodaikanalâ€™s weather is cool and pleasant throughout the year.
Nearest Railway station: Kodairoad, which is about 100 km away
Nearest Airport: Madurai Airport, which is about 120 km away
Pic Courtesy: Great India Tours
Unknown to many tourists for a long time, Vagamon has quickly covered up for the lost timeÂ to become one of the most astonishing hill-station discoveries of Kerala. Because of its pristine peaks and surreal scenarios, Vagamon is theÂ place-to-be-in on your next Kerala trip. The lush green carpet of hills, velvet lawns as well as the occultism of this place is a moment to be captured with your senses.Â Recent discovery with no hints of modernity made this place among Top 50 places to visit byÂ the National Geographic Traveller.
Adventure activities available here include trekking,Â paragliding, rock climbing, and mountaineering. The famous Vagamon pine forests are worthÂ visiting along with its three famous chains of hills: Thangal, Murugal, and Kurisumala that areÂ of pivotal religious importance for Hindus, Muslims, and Christians respectively. This alsoÂ stands testimony to the perfect communal harmony of the society here. Located at anÂ altitude of 1100 meters above sea level, temperatures are often reported on the lower sideÂ in winters.
Nearest Railway station: Kottayam, which is about 75 km from Peermede
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport, which is about 150 km from Peermede
Pic Courtesy: Enchanting Travels
Rightly called â€˜the Queen of the Nilgirisâ€™, Ooty is marvelously charming and fascinating. ItÂ is very easy to get hypnotized by the spellbinding beauty of this place. Also known by theÂ name of Udhagamandalam, Ooty promises you pure natural beauty from all the angles.Â There is a large expanse of water, right in the central Ooty where you can take pleasurableÂ boat rides and then you can visit the Rose Garden which is home to more than 2000Â varieties of roses.Â Tea-gardens, lakes, rivers, reserve forests, tribal huts, and museums dominate Ootyâ€™sÂ landscape, making it a paradise for tourists.
But one thing that stands apart from the rest isÂ the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. You ought to experience this spectacular journey which has theÂ steepest track in all of Asia, to better understand the â€˜blue mountainsâ€™. The famousÂ Bollywood song â€˜Chaiyya Chaiyaaâ€™ featuring Shahrukh Khan and Malaika Arora was also shotÂ here.Â There are also a host of adventure activities you can take part in like trekking, hand gliding,Â angling etc. Located at an altitude of 2240 meters above sea level, Ooty has cold winters and pleasantÂ summers.
Nearest Railway station: Ooty has its own railway station by the same name
Nearest Airport: Coimbatore International Airport, which is about 96 km away
Pic Courtesy: Goibibo
Munnar is unarguably the only hill station in south India that can match to the â€˜Great Himalayasâ€™ in terms of beauty as well as popularity. Truly, a one of its own kind, your trip to southÂ India is incomplete without a visit to this post-card picturesque town of Kerala. There is so much to explore and discover in Munnar that it is likely that youâ€™ll run out ofÂ time. The lush green tea estates where you can not only taste different kinds of fresh teaÂ from different tea brands but also see how it is being made in the step-by-step process is aÂ truly rewarding experience in itself. The Mattupetty dam, echo point, and KalaripayattuÂ show are some of top the sight-seeing places in Munnar.
The Eravikulam National Park andÂ Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Munnar is home to some of the endangered specious like theÂ Nilgiri Tahr. It was a summer resort forÂ the British and has large patches of tea plantations all around. It is also home to theÂ Neelakurinjiâ€™s a beautiful blue flower which blooms only once in 12 years. Munnar also hasÂ the highest peak in South India, which is Aramudi at 2695 meters. Located at an altitude ofÂ 1450-2695 meters above sea level, Munnar has a very pleasant climate which makesÂ travelling an enjoyable experience.
Nearest Railway station: Aluva, which is about 110 km away
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport, which is about 110 km away
Largely overshadowed by the massive popularity of its sibling Ooty, Coonoor is a surpriseÂ package. This Nilgiri hill station welcomes you with sceneries that will energize your body as well as your soul. The greenery itself will have a calming influence on your eyes while your lungsÂ would thank you for the fresh air youâ€™ll have here. The simple local life here is sure to catch your attention and a general sense of serenity will accompany your sojourn here.Â Once here, youâ€™ll quickly realize thereâ€™s a lot more to explore in Coonoor.
Whether be the famed Simâ€™s Park or the adventurous Lambâ€™s Rock, you have plenty of waysÂ to be up close with nature. But youâ€™ll be really lucky if you manage to spot the NilgiriÂ Mountain Toy train emerging through the tea estates. Coonoor, at an altitude of 1850Â meters, is indeed a great escape from the chaos and madness of city life.
Nearest Railway station: Mettupalayam, which is about 17 km away
Nearest Airport: Coimbatore International Airport, which is about 85 km away
Meghamalai, situated in the border district of Theni, is another sedating hill station whichÂ helps you unwind all your thoughts. Located just 2.5 hrs drive from the famous Periyar TigerÂ Reserve, Meghamalai has an abundance of flora and also a lot of fauna to impress the visitors.
UnlikeÂ many other hill stations, Meghamalai has something for wildlife enthusiasts also. Among itsÂ star attractions are the rare Great Indian Hornbill, the endangered Grizzled Giant Squirrel,Â Salim Aliâ€™s fruit bat, White-bellied woodpecker, as well as the enigmatic Huttonâ€™s pitviper snake.Â Better known as the â€˜High Wavy Mountainsâ€™, Meghamalai offers you wondrous views of theÂ Varusanadu Hills. The landscape is prominently dominated by large tea estates as well as craftilyÂ lined cardamom plantations.Â Located at an altitude of 1500 metres, Meghamalai has a pleasant hilly climate. This placeÂ will keep you busy with continuous exploration.
Nearest Railway station: Madurai, which is about 120 km away
Nearest Airport: Madurai Airport, which is about 126 km away
Pic Courtesy: Goibibo
Idukki, Keralaâ€™sÂ second-largest district, has many feathers to its cap- like Munnar, Thekkady, andÂ Vagamon. Life on a magnificent mountain peak, wandering along the slopes of lush greenÂ tea plantations of some of Indiaâ€™s forefront tourist destinations might be the perfect holidayÂ setting you are looking for. Itâ€™s hard to resist falling in love with this densely forestedÂ mountainous region. A visit to the EravikulamÂ National Park might give you the rare opportunity of seeing the endangered Nilgiri Tahr andÂ rare blue coloured Neelakurinji flowers that blossom only once in 12 years.
A boat ride in theÂ silent Periyar river promises undisturbed close-up views of some of the wild elephants evenÂ if youâ€™re not lucky to spot a Tiger, which otherwise is in good population here. Do a bit ofÂ spice shopping in Thekkady and enjoy misty views of nature in Vagamon. We still havenâ€™tÂ counted majestic waterfalls, the one-of-a-kind arched dam and other popular tourist hotspots inÂ Idukki. With an average elevation of approx. 1200 meters, Idukki has anÂ enjoyable climate.
Nearest Railway station: Kottayam, which is about 145 km away
Nearest Airport: Kochi International Airport, which is about 100 km away
Pic Courtesy: Holidify
Coorg, better known by the name â€˜Kodaguâ€™, is one of the major tourist hotspots in theÂ Malabar region. Located near the Kerala border but in the Karnataka state, it is a nice offbeatÂ destination if you want to also indulge in local culture apart from the regular sightseeingÂ stuff. There are lots of indigenous and other ethnic groups which have their own uniqueÂ attire and festivals. Itâ€™s indeed a treat to watch them, only if you manage to take out timeÂ after seeing some scenic waterfalls like Abbey Falls and Iruppu Falls and other places likeÂ Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple and some of the wildlife sanctuaries.
Apart from coffee, donâ€™tâ€™ forget to try the Kodagu cuisine which essentially consists of steamed rice balls. Wait a minute, did we forget to mention about Talakaveri, the famousÂ place where Kaveri river originates. Well, plenty of things to see at a single place.Â With an altitude of 1100 meters, Kodagu has a moderate climate.
Nearest Railway station: Mysore, which is about 107 km away
Nearest Airport: Mangalore Airport, which is about 160 km away
Sometimes the lesser explored places give you the real feel of adventure. This is whereÂ Valparai kindles with your expectations. Nestled in the Anamalai hills of the Western Ghats,Â Valparai easily beats the common myth that most of the Hill stations in the south give theÂ â€˜same feelâ€™. Valparai is very much different than Ooty, Kodaikanal, and even Munnar, thanksÂ to its unique nature.
To set the record straight, Valparai is the only hill station in the worldÂ which has 12 dams and hydroelectric power stations. If that doesnâ€™t impress you, then you wouldÂ be glad to know that Ecotourism is given more importance than regular tourism here. The place is filled with streams, valleys, dams, waterfall, as well as grasslands. You can explore itsÂ vast Flora and Fauna or simple visit other sightseeing places in Valparai.Â With an altitude of 1100 meters, Valparai is generally a cool hill station but experiencesÂ heavy rainfall during monsoon months.
Nearest Railway station: Coimbatore, which is about 105 km away
Nearest Airport: Coimbatore Airport, which is about 120 km away
11) Araku Valley
Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh is the most famous hill station of the EasternÂ Ghats. Basically a cluster of five valleys about 112kms from the coastal city ofÂ Vishakhapatnam, Araku Valley is your scenic date with nature. Araku Valley is an idyllic hillÂ station with lush greenery, waterfalls, and streams. The Botanical Garden, Silk farm and Mulberry gardens are interesting places to explore in theÂ day, apart from the not-to-miss Tribal Museum.Â With an average elevation of approx. 1000 meters, Araku Valley also has a cool climate.
Nearest Railway station: Araku Valley, which is about 2 km away
Nearest Airport: Vishakhapatnam Airport, which is about 115 km away
Ponmudi, also known as â€˜The Golden Peakâ€™, is a hill station that is an extension of the WesternÂ Ghats and runs parallel to the Arabian Sea. Itâ€™s a popular weekend picnic spot as its just 62Â kmÂ away from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Itâ€™s a relatively calm place, comparedÂ to other hill stations in Kerala, and thus provides a soothing experience to visitors. The mostÂ unique attraction of this place happens to be its flora and fauna. You can witness someÂ rare mountain flowers, wild orchids, as well as exotic butterflies. Donâ€™t forget to stop and enjoyÂ the breath-taking view of the Kallar river and Meenmutty Waterfalls.Â Ponmudi has an average elevation of approx. 1100 meters and has a typically cool hillÂ station climate.
Nearest Railway station: Thiruvananthapuram Junction, which is about 61 km away
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum International Airport, which is about 67 km away
Have a look at a tailor-made itinerary that covers the hill stations of South India.