This article is inspired by an article originally published by Skyscanner
Imagine the wind in your face, while traveling through the winding roads, up a hill! Imagine opening the windows, with a steaming cup of freshly brewed tea in your hand, to be greeted by tall deodars and taller mountain ranges, covering the horizon like a gleaming necklace! Your city-sore eyes will be soothed by the lushness of green valleys, whereas the low and fluffy clouds will float away with all the stress. Hill stations are the elixir of life that restore our bonding with Mother Nature and reinstate faith in the soul within. From north to south and east to west, there are a number of exquisite hill stations across India. To help you escape the hustle and bustle of tiresome metropolises, CouponRaja presents the list of top 10 Indian hills stations to visit.
1. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Admiringly called the Queen of Hills, Shimla has always been a beloved getaway for vacationers. Perched atop a stern ridge, like a regal Empress sitting on her throne, Shimla exudes a unique allure. With an abundance of deodar and pine forests around it, Shimla’s untouched charm is refreshingly transcendental. The surrounding Seven Hills including Jakhoo Hill, Bantony Hill, Prospect Hill, Summer Hill, Observatory Hill, Invererarm Hill and Elysium Hill lend Shimla its majestic grace. Buzzing with activities, The Mall is one of the prime tourist attractions and centre of fun in Shimla. Lined with numerous shops, the Mall Road is perfect for lazy strolls, snacking and shopping. Once the Summer Capital of British India, Shimla is home to a staggering number of exquisite colonial structures like The Christ Church and the Municipal Library. Those fond of architecture and history can take delight in exploring the several temples, cathedrals and British lodges around this hill station. Shimla also affords the opportunity to partake in a variety of adventure sports for the adrenaline rush seekers like trekking, hiking and zip lining. While in Shimla, don’t forget to buy the juicy red apples it is famous for and taste the hot dumplings called Siddus, stuffed with meat or poppy seeds.
Best Time to Visit: March to June.
2. Darjeeling, West Bengal
Known far and wide for its sloping, velvety green, tea plantations and the delightfully fragrant tea they produce, Darjeeling offers a calming view of the Himalayan mountain ranges for the weary souls. You may begin your trip to this destination with a visit to the famous tea gardens. The Mall in Darjeeling is ideal for spending the cold afternoons and hiring horses to go on a trotting trip around. On cloudless days, you will get a magnificent view of Kangchenjunga and Mt. Everest, from the top of Tiger Hill, situated 11 km from Darjeeling, at the time of sunrise. Another visit worthy place nearby is the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary. Animal lovers will also enjoy a visit to the Himalayan Zoological Park which nests a population of red pandas and snow leopards. The Elgin, Glenary’s and Keventers are three of the most popular eateries in Darjeeling. Foodies must not miss the English Breakfast and high tea these restaurants serve. Your visit to Darjeeling is incomplete without a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway also called “Toy Train” due to its slow pace and purchasing packets of aromatic Darjeeling tea.
Best Time to Visit: April to mid-June
3. Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Lovingly addressed as the ‘Jewel of Nilgiris’, Ooty is a quaint and beautiful hill station in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. Its enchanting beauty has been attracting travellers from all over India for decades. Encircled by high mountains, Ooty has many lakes and gardens where tourists can have a great time. The artificial, L-shaped Ooty Lake and Emerald Lake are good spots for any traveller to begin exploring the city. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway has been announced to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers memorable rides through winding mountain tracks. Activities like fishing and rafting at the Avalanche Lake enable families to spend quality time together. The other commendable attractions of Ooty includes the Botanical Garden, the Rose Garden and the Deer Park. Those who love visiting museums should not miss a visit to the Wax Museum, Stone House and of course the Honey Bee Museum. Eucalyptus oil and homemade chocolates should not be missed out from your shopping list.
Best Time to Visit: March to June
4. Mount Abu, Rajasthan
Located in the Sirohi district of Rajasthan, amidst the Aravalli Range, Mount Abu is a dreamlike retreat in the middle of a hot and parching desert. Sitting atop a mountain plateau, this hill station is untouched by heat waves and offers a cool climate for relaxed vacationing. You can start your vacation to Mount Abu by relishing boat rides on the Nakki Lake and visiting the uncountable shrines dotting the city. Day at Trevor’s Park, which is a famous wildlife sanctuary and crocodile park, offers a thrilling experience to all, especially the wildlife enthusiasts. Visit to the architecturally rich Dilwara Jain Temples and Achalgarh Fort will excite the fans of history. Mount Abu even has some incredible trekking and rock climbing routes that adventure lovers should try out. If you want to get a panoramic view of the entire region then climb up to the Guru Sikhar, which is the highest peak of Aravalli range of mountains.
Best Time to Visit: September to November and April to Early June
5. Shillong, Meghalaya
Referred to as the Scotland of East, the capital of Assam, Shillong is also known by the apt moniker ‘The Abode of Clouds’. It is a perfect hill station for travellers who are ready to take the off the beaten path and experience true natural beauty, unpolluted by human activities. Start your journey with a trip to the Elephant Falls, where three different waterfalls can be seen to be merging into a big one. The other popular natural waterfalls in Shillong include Bishop and Beadon Falls. Also, take a short trip to the Umaim Lake, just 15 km beyond the hill station, for watching the flamboyant population of migratory birds that flock here every year. If you are into trekking then exploring the David Scott Trail is a must for you. The Air Force Museum and Don Bosco Centre of Indigenous Culture will enlighten you about the local culture and its progress. The other interesting places to visit in Shillong are Kyllang Rock, Ward’s Lake, Lady Hydari Park and Mini Zoo. Don’t miss the palatial All Saints Cathedral, built by British colonialists and to buy souvenirs for your near and dear ones, visit the Bara Bazaar and the Police Bazaar.
Best Time to Visit: March to June
6. Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir
Sitting pretty at an altitude of 2,130 meter, Pahalgam is one of the most sought-after destinations of Jammu & Kashmir. Located in the centre of the valley of River Lidder, Pahalgam has turned into the most popular hill station of Kashmir in the recent decades. From Pahalgam, one can get the most picturesque view of the Lidder Valley, with the sprightly river sprinting through the middle of it. Take a stroll in the Deer Park and treat yourself with sprightly deer and fawns and the quaint Lidder River flowing by. One of the best loved tourist spots in this place is the Aru Valley. Spread over an expanse of lushly carpeted green grasslands and rolling forests this valley looks grand with a backdrop of stunning snow cladded mountains. During your stay in Pahalgam also take a trip to the Betaab Valley, where the Hindi film Betaab was shot. One of the major attractions of Pahalgam is boating in the quaint lakes of Sheshnag Lake, Tarsar Lake and Tulian Lake, while sipping in the stunning sceneries surrounding them. Visit to the Malmaleshwar Temple will delight those with a spiritual bent of mind. You may purchase fresh and authentic saffron from shops located outside the famous saffron farms of Kashmir. Most of such shops are located on the way to Pahalgam from Srinagar.
Best Time to Visit: March to June
7. Munnar, Kerala
Surrounded by the steep Western Ghat range of mountains, Munnar possesses a beguiling charm that makes one forget worries in an eye-blink. The best thing you will experience on reaching Munnar is its unpolluted and oxygen rich air that will fill up your lungs with a blissful liveliness. This pristine hill station, often called Kashmir of South India, has many wonderful places to visit. Tea enthusiasts can begin their journey from the Tata Tea Museum where they can learn about tea processing and types of machinery. Tea tasting is another invigorating activity that tourists can participate in at the museum. Your next stop should be the CSI Church, constructed out of stained glass and decorated using brass plaques. Another interesting place to visit at Munnar is Mattupetty. This agricultural garden offers scenic views and its refreshing environment gets etched in the mind. Air rich in fragrant aroma of sandalwoods makes a trip to Mayaroor and Chinnar Wild Sanctuary ever memorable.
Best Time to Visit: June to September
8. Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
Nicknamed “Princess of Hill Stations”, Kodaikanal, located in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, has an ethereal grace that none can evade. It has the perfect romantic setting for honeymooners and couples desiring a break from the city cacophony. The many tourist attractions of this hill station also make it ideal for peaceful family trips. Situated at an altitude of 7200 meters, this hill station offers a breath-taking view of surrounding mountain ranges. The man-made, star shaped Kodal lake, spanning an area of 60 acres is the central attraction of Kodaikanal, where tourists can partake in a variety of activities like horse riding, boating and cycling. Your next destination here should be the Green Valley, popularly known as the Suicide Point, for an enticing view of the forest covered misty mountains and woodlands. Flower and garden enthusiasts must pay a visit to the Flora Museum at Sacred Heart College, where around 300 species of Orchids are grown with care. On your way to Kodaikanal through Kodai road, you can see the enchanting view of Silver Cascade waterfall. The Coakers Walk, a kilometre-long road built on the mountain, is perfect for romantic strolls and even cycling. Pillar Rocks with its exotic mini garden is a wonderful spot for picnic and day out, whereas the Bear Shola Falls beacons tourists to watch bears having a drink.
Best Time to Visit: March to June
9. Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh
Tucked neatly amidst the lofty Himalayan ranges, Dharamshala, located in Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh is also known as the second winter capital of the state. The lovely Dal Lake is ideally the best spot to commence your tour through Dharamshala. Surrounded by Deodar forests, the Dal Lake offers an unforgettably peaceful environment, perfect for hour long boating. Make your next stop at Namgyal Monastery, which is the biggest Tibetan Temple outside of Tibetan region. Around 200 monks reside in this revered learning centre. Its Tibetan style architecture and prayer wheels evoke an incomparable serenity within the hearts of visitors. Culture connoisseurs should visit the Kangra Art Museum which showcases an astounding collection of Tibetan and Buddhist artifacts along with miniature paintings, fabrics and temple cravings that speak volumes about the indigenous culture of Kangra Valley. Architecture fans will be clean bowled by the neo-gothic structure of the St. John in the Wilderness Church built way back in 1852. The religious devotees who visit Dharamshala offer prayers at the Bhagsunath Temple. The Bhagsu Falls nearby has awe-inspiring beauty. The scenic waterfalls and rhododendron clad winding hilly roads make Dharamshala a grand choice for trekking expeditions. Taste the tantalizing Lang Phing which is a Chinese pancake dipped in chili-soy sauce steaming bowl of soup, during your stay in Dharamshala.
Best Time to Visit: Sept to Oct and March to June
10. Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Situated at the northern edge of Kullu Valley, Manali has its own captivating charm for attracting hordes of tourists, especially honeymooners, all year round. Referred adoringly as the “Queen of Valleys”, this small town is also nicknamed “Lovers Paradise” and “India’s Honeymoon Capital” for its temperate to cool climate and enchanting views of mountain ranges stretched around. The Beas River flows through this bewitching valley town, dividing it in two. Travellers must make a trip to the Solang Valley, located in the northwest of Manali, popular among adventure lovers for its 300 meters of ski height. Those who take pleasure in thrills and chills can enjoy an exciting variety of adventure sports available at Manali such as parachuting, paragliding, skating and zorbing. Also visit the Naggar Castle, built by seamlessly blending British and Himalayan architectural styles. Another highly popular tourist attraction in Manali is the legendary Rohtang Pass, which opens for travellers during May but is closed in September for windy and uncertain weather conditions. Manali is also known for being the abode of many temples. The famous temples that devotees pay homage to include the Raghunath Temple, Hadimba Temple and Jagannathi Devith Temple.
Best Time to Visit: October to February
Tip to plan a budget friendly holiday: Before you choose your next vacation make sure to take an informed decision and to do that check out Flight, Train, Hotel and Bus booking offers.