Summer time! It is finally here! The world has opened up, time to take eyes off the screen, a break from the online classes for the kids and work from home atmosphere. This is the perfect time to plan the summer vacation and enjoy the sun and open air to the fullest. How long your trip will be is for you to decide and here are some of the cool offbeat hill stations of south India where you can head to chill in summers.
Offbeat Hill Stations of South India
Here is a cool list of hill stations in south of India that you head to escape the heat in concrete jungles of cities. I have not included the popular hill stations like Ooty, Coorg and Kodaikanal, instead I focused on the lesser known hill stations.
Gavi near Idukki in Kerala
Gavi is listed as Eco Tourism spot. Approach path, especially the last stretch to Gavi, is through thick forests of wildlife reserves, four dams and winding hilly path. Isn’t it exciting! Besides being a hill station the environs hosts several bird and animal species. You will find yourself packing several memorable wildlife and jungle experiences on your way back home. Visit on a priority basis as it may soon lose its offbeat status and join the list of crowded popular hill stations in Kerala.
How to reach Gavi
Gavi can be easily accessed by road, 14 km from Vandiperiyar, and rail, nearest stations are the Ernakulam Railway station and the Kottayam Railway station. Nearest airport is the Nedumbassery airport (Cochin) at a distance of 176km, there are plenty of public and private transport from the airport.
Kudremukh in Chikkamagaluru in Karnataka
Kudremukh features in the list of offbeat hill stations during summers. It is more popular among the trekkers. One can enjoy the unspoilt beauty of the rolling hills thanks to no construction of resorts in the hills. Take permission to trek the forests. You will get several stay options at the home stays in Mullodi village nearby. Since only limited passes are issued to trekkers per day you will find absolutely nil crowds here, but that said you have to book early and on time so that you don’t miss your spot.
Kudremukh is well connected by road. Nearest railway station and international airport is in Mangalore, at a distance 100.3km via NH169.
Ponmudi near Thiruvananthapuram Kerala
Ponmudi is at an elevation of 1100m above sea level, and the temperature here ranges from 21 degrees to a maximum of 28 degrees. That explains the soothing cool climate the hill station has throughout the year. Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, Echo Point, trekking spots, mist-laden valley Golden Valley near Kallar River are the major tourist attractions in and around that will keep you busy.
Best time to visit this hill station would be during winters when major part of north India would freeze. That is when mist covers the landscape of emerald green trees blanketing the hills and the waterfalls gurgling their way through the valleys.
Nearest city is Thiruvananthapuram with railway station and airport. You can reach Ponmudi by road, a distance of 60km approximately.
Munnar in Kerala
Munnar in Kerala is experiencing unusual mercury dip since the winters. Places like Latchmi, Chenduvarai, Silent Valley recorded -1 to 1°C in December 2020. Munnar is one of those rare destinations in south of India that experiences snowfall in Jan. Temperature ranges from 26°C during the day, whilst at night 16°C at night in April- May. Munnar’s natural beauty needs no introduction.
Apart from other souvenirs my personal recommendation is to purchase aromatic teas that are available in several varieties and flavors. If you have time enough you plan to visit places like Neolithic burial chambers, Ervakulam National Park, Attukad waterfalls and Marayur with Neolithic era dolmens and rock paintings. Kerala tourism has made good arrangements around the hill station.
Munnar doesn’t have its own railway station and airport. Last stretch of travel to Munnar has to be done by private or public transport. Nearest railway station and airport is Kochi in Kerala.
Yelagiri near Vellore Tamil Nadu
Yelagiri is one of the few hill stations in south of India that offers paragliding adventure sports. Besides being a sought after destination for adventure sports other sights that will interest tourists are Punganoor Lake Park, Nature Park, Jalagamparai Waterfalls, Telescope Observatory, Jalagandeeswarar Temple, and Swamimalai Hills. The best food souvenir that you can pick from here is honey made by wild honey bees in natural environment.
Yelagiri is well connected to nearby big cities by road. The nearest railway station is Jolarpett Junctions and the nearest airport is Bangalore International airport at 192km.
Conoor in Tamil Nadu
Coonoor hill station is a beautiful mix of tea plantations and old churches; it gets sidelined by Ooty, a bigger hill station, which is just 20km away. Thankfully that keeps the crowd away and Conoor can be explored at a leisurely pace. Sim’s Park in Conoor, a botanical garden, offers the perfect ambiance to bond with nature. Every summer the garden hosts a fruit and flower show. Conoor is home to Toda tribe, so if you like interacting with locals you can chat up with them and see the various craft works by them.
Coonoor is well connected by road with all major cities in South India. The route I took, which is rated as the best way to reach Conoor, is driving through the serpentine roads passing through Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
Yercaud in Tamil Nadu
During the month of April, the spring sets in and the coffee bushes in slopes of Yercaud blossom presenting an awe-inspiring view. You can time yourself for the annual festival in Shevaroy Hill Temple in Yercaud. The presiding deities are Lord Servarayan and Goddess Kaveri in the temple that is located in a narrow-dark cave atop the hill. Whether you’re looking for a down-home experience or something more well-heeled, you’re sure to find it here.
Tiruchirappalli International Airport in Tamil Nadu is the nearest airport. Yercaud is well connected by road and there is plenty of public and private transport available.
Kotagiri in Tamil Nadu
In the lap of Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, surrounded by lush tea gardens, Kotagiri is waiting to be explored. A thick colonial era still envelopes this beautiful town. While all hill stations compete to offer something unique to tourists, Kotagiri has no competitive edge over other hill stations. The exotic flaura and fauna here is its charm that will enhance your vacation experience.
Getting lazy here is best way to enjoy! Indulge in local cuisines as most resorts and hotels run their in-house kitchens.
The nearest Airport is Coimbatore Airport, roughly 69km via Mettupalayam-Kotagiri Road.
Sakleshpur in Karnataka
This one of the little known scenic hill stations of Western Ghats. The unedited scenes of Murkannu Gudda and Hadlu Waterfalls on the way are something you will remember for long after you return home. My very personal recommendation – Shettihalli Rosary Church, a floating church, is one of the best places to visit from Sakleshpur. Visit during sunset hours to get some exotic captures. Other places of interest are star shaped Manjarabad Fort, cardamom and pepper gardens, and Sri Sakleshwara Temple. It is a go-to summer vacation spot for families.
Sakleshpur is located in Malnad region of Western Ghats. Nearest airport is Mangalore, 162km by road.
Vagamon in Kerala
Get away from the clutches of commercialization in Vagamon, Kerala. NGT has listed this place in top 50 attractive places to visit in India. Though in its nascent stages of tourism the place has lots to offer to hardcore nature lovers who are fussy about commercial establishments that mushroom in hill stations. Temperature here ranges from 10°C to 23°C making the stay a pleasant destination throughout the year.
Pine forest here is a favorite location for filmmakers; chances are that you may spot a film crew with hero and heroines running around the trees.