Hill stations near Bangalore that have more to offer for a holiday

Photo of Hill stations near Bangalore that have more to offer for a holiday 1/1 by Roli jain
A Tiger Lily in the Nilgiri Biosphere

Bangalore has the unique distinction of being surrounded by hill stations in all directions. The Nilgiri Biosphere spread across the south, the Western Ghats to the west and the hill stations Horsley and Nandi Hills to the north offer a variety of holiday options that include relaxation, adventure, sight-seeing, religious pilgrimages and wildlife spotting. Given below are some of the more sought after hill stations that surround Bangalore.

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The Nandi Hills

Photo of Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India by Roli jain

Nandi Hills 60 km, 2-hour drive

North of Bangalore rises the Nandi Hills or Ananda Giri, meaning The Hill of Happiness, at an elevation of 4850 feet. It was once the summer retreat for officials of the British Raj. The impressive Nandidurga fort stands here. A music stage for cultural events in a 3 ½ acre grove, a large food court, planetarium, botanical garden and gondola lift system is in development. The 18-hole championship Golf course designed by Bob Hunt is laid out in the residential cum hospitality Prestige Golfshire here. The Nandi Hills is also a popular sunrise point. Its most famous landmark is the stunning monolith of Nandi and the Yoga Nandeeshwara Swamy Temple. It is popular for trekking, paragliding and dirt biking. Places to see include Tipu Sultan’s summer palace, the secret escape route, Tipu’s drop, Amruth Sarovar, and the children’s playground and garden.

There is more information about the Nandi Hills on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is October through March

The Horsley Hills

Photo of Horsley Hills, Andhra Pradesh, India by Roli jain

Horsley Hills 160 km, 4-hour drive

Horsley Hills stands northeast of Bangalore, at an elevation of 4300 feet. Nicknamed Andhra Ooty, being the only hill station in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Horsley Hills is endemic to the Yellow-throated Bulbul and the Duttaphrynus hololius toad. 133 species of bird have been recorded here. It is popular for camping, zorbing, rappelling, treks, birding and the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary and Elephant Reserve. The reserve is home to the elephant of course, together with panther, sloth bear, species of deer and antelope, jungle cat, porcupine among others. The world's largest banyan tree spread across almost 3 acres is near the Reserve. The drive to Horsley Hills is scenic, passing through forests of jacaranda, sandalwood and the flaming Gulmohar. Attractions include the Environment Park, the Mansarovar and Gangotri lake, the Hills Museum, various viewpoints and the rocky windy slope of Gali Bandalu, popular for its sunrise and sunset points.

There is more information about the Horsley Hills on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is October through March

The Yelagiri Hills

Photo of Yelagiri, Tamil Nadu, India by Roli jain

Yelagiri Hills 160 km, 4-hour drive

Southeast of Bangalore, at an elevation of 4340 feet is the Swamimalai hill, the highest point in Yelagiri. Adventure sports include paragliding, rock climbing, cycling and trekking. However please do not go pushing through bushes or thick shrubs, as Yelagiri is home to hundreds of snakes, some pretty venomous. Yelagiri is also popular for tribal village tours. Places to see include the Swamimalai hills, Jalagamparai Waterfalls, the Punganoor Lake Park and the nature park with its aquarium and rose garden. The Yelagiri Summer Festival and Dog Show end May (please check the exact dates if you intend to attend) is a popular annual event.

There is more information about the Yelagiri Hills on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is January and February, July through December

Yercaud Lake

Photo of Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India by Roli jain

Yercaud 215 km, 5-hour drive

Southeast of Bangalore, the hill station of Yercaud stands at an elevation of 5325 feet. It is popular for photography, camping and treks. Yercaud is known for its plantations of tea, black pepper, cardamom, orange and guava. The National Orchidarium and Botanical garden are located here. Its forest of sandalwood, teak and silver oaks are home to sambar, bison, spotted deer, jackals, foxes, ant-eater and the giant squirrels. Many endemic species of reptiles are found here like the Uropeltis ellioti and Uropeltis shorttii (which is endemic to the hill range) as well as the endangered Python molurus. Birders can spot the Indian grey hornbill, racket-tailed drongo, whistling thrush, leaf bird, peacock, bulbuls, sparrows, kites and swallows. One can see the locally famous Asteroid white stones here. Places to visit include Sri Lalitha Tripura Sundari Amman Temple, Karadiyur and Pagoda viewpoints, the Silk Farm and Rose Garden, Yercaud Lake, Bear’s Cave, Killiyur Falls and the panoramic viewpoint of Lady's Seat. The week-long Summer Festival in May (please do check for the exact dates) offers boating races, a flower and a dog show, and a village fair.

There is more information about Yercaud on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is November through February


Photo of Chikmagalur, Karnataka, India by Roli jain

Chikkamagaluru 240 km, 5-hour drive

To the northwest of Bangalore, at an elevation of 3580 feet, stands the hill station of Chikkamagaluru or Chikmagalur. Coffee in India was first cultivated here. Its highest peak is Mullayanagiri, at an elevation of 6315 feet, and offers a spectacular sunset. The district is home to the shola Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park, home to the endangered lion-tailed macaque. Wildlife includes the tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, wild dog, barking deer, pangolin, flying squirrel, and the Malabar giant squirrel among others. It is home to some 300 species of bird including red sour fowl, Malabar parakeet, the painted bush quail, great black woodpecker and others. Reptiles include the king cobra, Russell Viper, the bamboo put viper, gliding lizards and marsh crocodile. An obvious hotspot for birding and wildlife spotting, Chikmagalur is well known white-water rafting and trekking. Places to visit include the Coffee Museum, Manikyadhara Falls, Hebbe Falls, Kallathigiri Falls, the temple towns of Sringeri, Someshwara Temple and many others including the Hoysala Amrutesvara temple and the much revered Guru Dattatreya Bababudanswamy Darga.

There is more information about Chikkamagaluru on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is September through March

The Kaveri River

Photo of Coorg, Karnataka, India by Roli jain

Coorg 260 km, 6-hour drive

To the southwest of Bangalore lies the hilly district of Coorg that flows from an elevation of 390 feet to its highest peak Tadiandamol at 5740 feet. The much-revered river Kaveri has its source in the district. Its three major towns are Madikeri, Virajpet and Somwarpet. Most resorts are located out of the towns in plantations and forested areas. Coorg is in close proximity of the Nagarhole National Park, and the Pushpagari, Talakaveri and Brahmagiri Wildlife sanctuaries where one can go on elephant and jeep safaris to spot wildlife. The Dubare Elephant Camp where one can bathe elephants as well as visit the sacred Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe. Coorg is famous for its coffee plantations. It is also a popular place for white-water rafting, off-roading, trekking and camping. Kodagu cuisine is a major draw for non-vegetarians, particularly the Kadumbuttu (steamed rice balls) and pandi (pork) curry. There are numerous waterfalls like the Abbey and Mallalli falls. The Mercara Fort holds the St. Mark's Church built by the East India Company. Raja’s seat at Medikeri and the park are a popular sunset point.

There is more information about Coorg on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is April through October

The Love Lake

Photo of Wayanad, Kerala, India by Roli jain

Wayanad 290 km, 7-hour drive

South of Coorg, and southwest of Bangalore is Wayanad, undulating from 2300 feet up to the Chembra Peak at a height of 6890 feet. The district is the largest exporter in Kerala of coffee, tea and spices. The rock engravings in the Edakkal Caves date back 6000 years. It’s two most famous destinations are Kalpetta and Vythiri, which have the highest density of hotels and resorts, from where sight-seeing excursions are conducted by jeep and car around the district to it numerous waterfalls, viewpoints, trekking trails, the only Luv Kush temple in Kerala at Pulpally, and the Jain temple with mirrors at Vythiri. Adventure activities include angling, zip-line and water zorbing, besides treks and camping. The Thirunelli Temple, Banasura Sagar dam on the Karamanathodu River, Kuruva Island and the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary are popular attractions.

There is more information about Wayanad on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is November through June

The Emerald Lake

Photo of Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India by Roli jain

Ooty 280 km, 7-hour drive

Further southwest of Bangalore cradled within the blue-hills of the Nilgiris, stands Ooty, Queen of Hill-stations, at an elevation of 7350 feet. The highest peak of the Nilgiri hills, Doddabetta overlooks the town from an elevation of 8650 feet and is a popular tourist attraction. It lies en route to the tea estates of Kotagiri. Kotagiri at an elevation of 5890 feet is fast becoming an alternative holiday spot to Ooty, especially in the summer months with traffic snarls on the road to Ooty last hours, and the roads in town are jammed will holidaymakers. The Mudumalai and Bandipur National Parks lie en route from Bangalore and are popular overnight stops. Ooty is renowned for her tea estates and colonial aura, especially its finger licking confectionery and chocolates. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a rare attraction, and one can take a ride on it down to the Mettupalayam, or Coonoor at an elevation of 6000 feet which is another popular hill station near Ooty. Shooting Point with its lush green pastures is a popular excursion, as it the beautiful Avalanche lake in the Western Catchment. The Emerald Lake some 25 km from Ooty, is alovely picnic spot. The Ooty Lake with its boat rides, the Botanical and Rose gardens, Wenlock Downs and the Pine Forest are other favoured sights. Ooty host the Tea and Tourism Fair in January, and the Nilgiri Summer Festival in May. The Summer Festival includes individual flower, rose, vegetable, fruit and spice shows, cultural programs, painting competitions, boat races, a marathon, a boat pageantry, a dog show, a vintage car rally, a tour of heritage buildings and an eco-trekking tour.

There is more information about Ooty on Tripoto.

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The best time to visit is March through June, and September through November

More about Kotagiri and Coonoor

The Nilgiri Biosphere

Photo of Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India by Roli jain

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