By the end of February, summer is well on its way in many South Indian cities like Hyderabad and Chennai. Though the heat can be unbearable, there’s no need to worry because we have got you covered with the best places to go for your summer vacation, while still staying cool.
Here are the top five hill stations – high altitude towns – in southern India to escape the summer heat.
Known as the “Princess of Hills,” Kodaikanal is nestled at more than 2,000 meters from sea level in the state of Tamil Nadu. Nicknamed “Kodai” by locals, this hill town is home to dense forests, beautiful lakes – both manmade and natural – mighty cliffs, and lovely valleys.
Coakers Walk is one of the best attractions in Kodaikanal. It is a short walk on a path laid out at the top of a hill, looking down into a gorgeous valley. It feels as if you are walking on clouds here because you will literally see them hovering very close over your head.
Bryant Park, boating at Kodaikanal Lake, Pillar Rocks, Silent Valley, and Cap Valley are some of the attractions that must be experienced here. There are many more things to do in a weekend in Kodaikanal, including visiting the reserved Berijam Lake: Forest Area. This needs special permission from the forest department, so make sure you get it before including it in your itinerary.
This coffee heaven in Kerala is a stunning hill station, most popular with honeymooners and college students from all over the country. Munnar is nestled cozily in the bountiful Western Ghats and is about 1,600 meters higher than the sea level. Its sprawling coffee and tea plantations are a sight to behold.
Apart from visiting the tea and coffee estates, here are the things you must do: Anamudi Peak, Mattupetty Dam, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park, and Attukal Waterfalls.
A regular walk on the Mattupetty dam is guaranteed to awe you, and there is also a chance of spotting elephants along the banks. Boating options area also available at the dam.
Fondly known as “Queen of Hills,” Ooty is a summer escape to many in Tamil Nadu. It was a summer capital in the British regime. Around 2,200 meters above sea level, this charming hill station always has pleasant, cool weather, even in the hottest of months around the state.
Ooty is also known as Udagamandalam and is home to Doddabeta, the highest peak here, and a great vantage point to enjoy this town’s beauty. Ooty’s rose garden, botanical gardens and its manmade lake are all must-visit places. Boating at Ooty Lake is a beautiful experience.
There are plenty more things to do in Ooty, including a visit to the local tea museum and tasting their amazing tea at the end of the tour. Don’t forget to buy some homemade chocolate!
Located in the state of Karnataka, Coorg is also known as Madikeri. Its highest peak, Tadiondamol, is about 1,750 meters above sea level. This spot is also known for its delicious coffee with its numerous coffee plantations. It is also home to spice gardens like cardamom and black pepper. With its pleasant year-round greenery, Coorg is rightly known as the “Scotland of India.”
There are many interesting things to do in Coorg, including Golden Temple, Bylakuppe Tibetan Monastery, Kaveri Nisargadama, Raja’s Seat, Talakaveri (you can visit the temple here and also do a cool trek), Abbey Falls, and Irupu Falls.
Walking into Kushal Nagar to visit the Golden Temple and Bylakuppe Monastery will land you in a different culture altogether and is a great experience.
This delightful hill station is close to Salem city in Tamil Nadu. And as with all hilly regions, this town has windy roads and narrow hairpin bends along the way to the top. Yercaud is nestled in the Eastern Ghats at about 1,650 meters above sea level in the Shevaroys hill range.
There are plenty of picnic spots here and interestingly named vantage points – like Lady’s Seat and Gent’s Seat – from where you can catch cool views of Salem city. Once you have enjoyed boating and other activities at the Emerald Lake, sip on hot tea at one of the many snack hotels here. Do keep in mind that the temples here conduct annual festivals, and during those times, it can be crowded.
Yercaud translates to “lake forest” in the local language, meaning it literally is a place with lake and forests. The main attraction apart from its lake and temples is the rare flower called Kurunji that blooms here every 12 years. It is prominently displayed at the botanical gardens, making it a hot spot for tourists. This season’s bloom started in June 2018, and the next bloom is expected in 2030!
If you have more time on your hands during summers, definitely try to visit hill stations further north in India including the gorgeous Shimla, Darzeeling, Mussoorie, Dalhousie, Kullu, and Manali.