During summer, head to some of the most well hidden hill stations in India. To the north and northeast for relief from the heat. And in the winter, you can always head to the ones in the south for some relief from the biting cold up north! So it’s really a win-win, but they’re always crowded, full of tourists (unlike you, of course; you’re special).
Tripoto’s got you covered this time. Here are ten less crowded, less commercialized, not-yet-overrun-by-tourists, delectable yet hidden, hill stations in India to add to your list.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, is about 500 km from Guwahati and is still one of the few hidden nooks in the hills of Eastern Himalayas. It’s stupendously beautiful. Shonga-Tser Lake, formed by an earthquake is one of the more remarkable places you can visit here. Pangang Teng Tso is another lake that will capture your imagination. These are lakes in the Himalayas – they are pristine, with water so clear that you can see the reflections of mountains and trees in them. For those seriously into trekking and climbing, maybe you could make the trip here to conquer Goi ichen! Even if you just like to play at trekking, getting to the base camp will be an exhilarating and challenging experience. There is also the Tawang Monastery, where the sixth Dalai Lama was born. Set a day aside to visit the Jang Falls, too.
Please note: Get the Inner Line Permit from Delhi, Guwahati or Kolkata. You will need to pass through one of these cities on the way; stop at the AP House and get it, it’s easy enough. Foreign Tourists need Restricted Permit from Delhi or Kolkata. There are buses and shared taxis from Bomdila (also worth visiting) or Tezpur, and buses from Guwahati to Bomdila/Tezpur.
Accommodation will be rustic. Tawang Inn is your best shot. Tawang View is very basic, but has brilliant views from the upper floors. There are the government guest house and the circuit house, so if you’re lucky, you can set up base camp there.
Chikhaldara in Maharashtra is pretty and interesting, a more relaxing and practically unexplored, hidden hill station destination instead of exhilarating like Tawang or even Pelling. Places of interest include Kitchakdari and Shakkar lakes, Gawilghur Fort, the temples around, the wildlife museum and of course, the view points. There’s also a tiger sanctuary.
How to Get There - It’s about 100 km from Amravati, a total of over 750 km from Mumbai. There are regular buses from Amravati to Chikhaldara. The MTDC establishment might be the most convenient accommodation, but there are a few hotels, as well.
Yelagiri, Tamilnadu is a much less frequented hill station than Ooty or Kodaikanal and still hasn’t got its big tourism push, so you can make the most of that now. Again, while it’s very peaceful, and the scenery is nice, don’t expect the kind of beauty that will grip you in the gut like in the Himalayas. There is an artificial lake (Punganoor) where you can go boating, and it has a park built around it which is a nice place for an evening walk. There are also multiple view points and a few trekking options. Now you can even try paragliding in Yelagiri!
How to Get There - The best way to get to Yelagiri is to get transportation – bus or private – from Jolarpettai Junction, which has a big railway station where most trains stop. There are a few nice resorts with villas where you can stay and spend a weekend of relaxation.
When you think of hill stations in Karnataka, you think of Coorg or maybe Mysore. But Shimoga district has a few beautiful spots with lovely waterfalls. Jog falls are in Shimoga district, to begin with, and they’re an awe-inspiring sight when in full force. Kodachari is a peak with rich biodiversity and a natural heritage site. Sagars is close to Jog Falls. Talaguppa is also close to Jog Falls and has three excellent temples to visit. Agumbe, with its fog and dense forest cover, is probably one of the most secluded hill stations you could find in the Western Ghats. It has multiple waterfalls and is ethereally beautiful. Strangely, Agumbe is closer to Udipi railway station than Shimoga!
How to Get There - Shimoga has a railway station, as does Udipi, and both have buses that go to most places. Shimoga district has plenty of options for accommodation for all budgets.
Haflong is another option in the northeast if you want to spend some time with your head pretty literally in the clouds. You tend to expect great beauty from hill stations in the northeast – almost any town can rival most hill stations elsewhere – but Haflong is beautiful even by those lofty standards. The most picturesque spot is possibly Haflong Lake, but there are multiple view points to keep your mind muddled trying to process the sheer perfection of the place.
How to Get There - Airports in Guwahati and Dimapur are both fairly close by. There is railway connectivity to Haflong, but you need to get to Silchar or Lumding for that. You can drive from Guwahati – it will be an unforgettable experience. You won’t get dozens of choices for accommodation, but Landmark Hotel and the Tourist Lodge are perfectly adequate.
When you say Sikkim, most people think Gangtok and the lakes, and with good reason. Gangtok is as close to perfect as any place on earth can be and the lakes are so beautiful you will never want to look away, let alone leave. But don’t forget Pelling. Pelling is not as well developed as Gangtok, and it’s smaller, but it is also the starting point for some excellent treks, and the town itself has a few stunning view points that can very well rival Gangtok. Visit the Pemayangtse monastery, Changey and Khangchendzonga waterfalls and Khecheopalri Lake.
How to Get There - The best way to get to Pelling is to grab a seat in a shared taxi from Siliguri or from Gangtok. A good tip is to reserve an extra seat to have a bit of room.
Dhanaulti is about 28 km away from Mussourie, it’s much more popular sister. It is just as beautiful, though. It is sleepy, small and quiet – the kind of place you head to when you don’t particularly want places of interest that would be marked in Lonely Planet. It’s where you should go when you just need a break from the fast pace of life and find yourself again.
How to Get There - Dhanaulti is connected by bus and taxis from Dehradun, which has a train station. Accommodation is a bit limited; you don’t have too much to choose from. Samaira Hill Stream resort is a good option.
Idukki is one of the most beautiful districts in south India, but it still hasn’t been overrun by tourists, so you can get there ahead of the crowd. The views are great, you get there by driving through forests – there will be signs telling you to watch out elephants by the side of the road – and of course, there is the dam and lake once you get there apart from the general scenic beauty.
How to Get There - The best way to get to Idukki is private transportation. The hairpin turns on the way are lovely, so you’ll want the chance to stop and take photos or just look. There are plenty of government buses that go that way, but they will scare at least half the living daylights out of you with the way they take those turns. The government guesthouse is the cheapest and most reasonable option for accommodation, but in the last few years, more hotels have sprung up.
Apart from the things you’d expect from a hill station, Ponmudi is one of the best places in the country from where you can watch the kind of sunrise you had in mind when you were drawing with crayons when you were little. Remember, a couple of hills with a dip between them, the sun coming up slowly and casting rays you could actually see around? Well, sunrise in Ponmudi does look exactly like that. You will be woken up very early in the morning by sunrise, however, so go to sleep early.
How to Get There - The best option is to drive there from Thiruvananthapuram, and make sure you have a car that can take steep inclines. There are hairpin turns on the way and you’ll spot little babbling brooks and streams where you can make pit stops. There are buses you can take, but the warning for Idukki is applicable here, too. There are a few guesthouses, including a government one, to choose from once you get there.
Uttarakhand is known for its best hill stations in India, but Chopta is not the most popular among them. This is good for those who want to be far from the madding crowd. Chopta is an excellent destination for those who like serious trekking – it serves as base for treks to both Tungnath and Chandrashila. You can expect the same views that you would from the better known hill stations, but without the annoyances. Sounds good, doesn’t it!
How to Get There - You need to either drive there or hire a taxi from Rudraprayag, which has bus connectivity. Bus connectivity to Chopta exists but is very infrequent. Remember that this is 4000 metres above sea level, so winters get very cold and snow-laden. Magpie Jungle Camp seems to be the best option for accommodation.
Have you been any of these gorgeous hill stations in India? Share your tips and experiences with the Tripoto community.