Tourists’ preference for holiday destinations varies from country to country. Most of the Indians prefer hill stations in India.The people from the cold European countries always choose sunny destinations such as beachfront, African and Middle Eastern countries.
The Americans too are very fond of visiting coastal cities and sun-drenched beaches.
Tropical islands are preferred by almost everyone but the Indians always wish to go to hill stations mainly because the country is perennially hot in most of the places and in addition, there are more than 50 Hill Stations in India spread across in just about every state of India.
Some of the Indian States have more than a couple of hill stations. Because of the numerous hill stations in India, the choice for the Indian tourists is wide.
Go over this long list of beautiful hill stations in India where the weather is pleasant throughout the year.
Without any protest or debate, Kashmir is having the number one hill stations in India and Srinagar, its capital especially is always crowded. Not only during summer but during snowy winter season also, Kashmir gets trainloads of tourists from every part of India and from abroad.
A place of inexplicable beauty, lovely large lakes, pine and fir forests, snow-clad mountain peaks, gorgeous flower gardens, ultra-luxury hotels and resorts and above all, superb food, Kashmir is the most coveted hill station in India.
Srinagar, the capital of J&K state is well connected by flights from most parts of India. Alternatively, you can catch a train to Jammu from New Delhi and then hire a taxi to reach Srinagar.
Beautiful Hill Stations in India: Shimla
Shimla is the second most visited hill station in India. It is the capital of Himachal Pradesh state. Similar to Srinagar, Shimla is a very crowded hill station, especially during the summer months. The Britishers during their reign in India considered Shimla as their summer getaway. You can see their residual legacy in buildings and bakeries in Shimla.
There are several smaller towns near Shimla that possess the same chilly climate as Shimla but certainly less crowded and affordable too.
Shimla’s airport is served well by flights from most of the state capitals. In addition, there is a toy train that you should know; it runs from Kalka (Punjab state) to Shimla on a narrow gauge rail line.
Ooty, One of the Most Visited Hill Stations in India
Ooty or Ootacamund is the third most visited hill station in India and the best hill station in the state of Tamilnadu.
The way to this lovely hill station is full of lush forest covered mountains. The avifauna of Nilgiris as it is also known as is something that every bird watcher would rave about.
There are vast tracts of pine forest, dense jungles and sholas, lakes and boats and what not in Ooty? The food in Ooty is a lot different from the food that is served in Shimla and Kashmir.
Moreover, Ooty is not that much expensive when compared to Srinagar and Shimla.
One of the Most Preferred Hill Stations in India- Darjeeling
This is a cute hill station in North East India with a slightly different flora and fauna when compared to other hill stations of the Himalayas such as Kashmir, Shimla, Sikkim, and Nainital.
Darjeeling hill station is located in the state of West Bengal. However, it is bordering the North-East Indian states where the life, culture, and food are a lot different from the rest of India.
In fact, every small town or a village in North-East Indian is a hill station.
Darjeeling was also a preferred hill station for the British Raj. Darjeeling is also famous for its aromatic tea.
You will love the train route to reach Darjeeling. You reach New Jalpaiguri railway station and then hit the road to enjoy the scintillating view of the Himalayas that is not too harsh in its cool climate.
Alternatively, if you consider yourself as a romantic type, take the 5 and a half toy train journey from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.
Scenic Hill Stations in India- Nainital
Nainital is the 5th most popular hill stations in India and is located in the state of Uttarakhand, another Himalayan state with some of the best scenic mountain ranges in the world. The lovely tal (lake) in the center of the town, some tall pine and oak forests, salubrious climate and good vegetarian food are the attraction factors of Nainital hill station.
The nearest rail station is Kathgodam that is located 40 km before Nainital. You can go by car to Nainital from Kathgodam.
Alternatively, you can go by taxi directly from New Delhi. It’s a long drive from India’s capital. The distance between Nainital and New Delhi is nearly 300 km.
From now on, we move to other hill stations of India that are not as popular as the big 5. Nevertheless, they are not lacking in beauty, pleasant weather, comfortable staying options, and tasty boarding.
Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh
The video clip justifies its name that Khajjiar is the Switzerland of India due to its enchanting backdrop of green meadows and thick cedar forests.
Reaching Khajjiar hill station is easy from Pathankot, Punjab. You can cover the 80 km distance from Pathankot to Khajjiar by car. Pathankot can be reached either by train from New Delhi or by flight.
Dalhousie is a cute hill station in India and used to be a favorite hill station for the British Raj. The Dalhousie is not far from Khajjiar. It is only 25 km from Khajjiar. However, the road between these two places is said to be treacherous.
The location of Dalhousie is in the Dhauladhar mountain range makes it a coveted hill station for knowledgeable travelers.
The churches (St. Francis and St. John’s churches) in the hill station Dalhousie point to the British Raj’s influence during their India reign.
The trek to Phoolon Devi temple and the Dainkund peak is a routine for the tourists to Dalhousie hill station.
Ah, this is at the end of India in the North-East direction. Trekking the Myanmar Hills is said to be refreshing and scenic too. Other important attractions to see in and around Champhai are:
- Phawngpui National Park
- Tawi Wildlife Sanctuary
- Murlen National Park (famous for spotting Hoolock Gibbon)
- Dampa Wildlife Sanctuary
- Tamdil Lake
- Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary.
To reach Champai hill station, fly up to Aizawal, the capital of Mizoram and go further by car for seven hours.
Pahalgam and Gulmarg
Next to Srinagar, there are two summer hill destinations in Jammu and Kashmir state of India. They are Gulmarg and Pahalgam. Both these places are known for skiing routes. The valleys such as Aru and Betaab are great sightseeing attractions. Other beautiful places to see in Pahalgam are:
- Sun Temple
- Lidder River (water rafting)
- Tarsar Lake
Both these two hill stations Gulmarg and Pahalgam are located about 3 hours car ride away from Srinagar.
The state of Rajasthan has only one hill station in Mount Abu. Though it is certainly not in the ranks of any other hill stations such as the big 5, it is still a summer getaway for the Rajastanis who endure extreme heat during the summer season.
Mount Abu is part of the Aravalli Hills. There is a lake and park in Mount Abu. It can be a day trip from Udaipur that is located some 185 km away. The nearest railway station to Mount Abu hill station is Abu Road.
It is a cool hill station in the Western Ghats and located in Tamilnadu state. It is the second most visited hill station in South India. Similar to Ooty, Kodaikanal hills are also covered with dense forest interspersed with quaint waterfalls, sleepy mountain villages and numerous mountain streams.
Kodaikanal is located at an elevation of 7000 feet and has an artificial lake with the backdrop of woods comprising eucalyptus, pear, cypress, and acacia trees.
The large flowers of Kodaikanal are famous and are favorites with film producers. Some of the names of the beautiful flowers of Kodaikanal are:
- Water lilies
Munnar is a superb hill station in the state of Kerala. The Munnar is easily accessible from Kerala’s Cochin and Kottayam as well as Tamilnadu’s Madurai and Coimbatore cities. The hill station Munnar is the most visited hill station by the Keralites and Kannadigas (people of Karnataka state)
This fairly big hill station is part of the mighty Western Ghats full of thick forest and rolling meadows. Throughout the hill station, you can see acres and acres of terraced tea plantations.
Munnar’s hiking trails, hidden waterfalls and the Eravikulam National Park are some of the sightseeing attractions.
Manali is a highly visited hill station in Himachal Pradesh and you can say it is the twin of Shimla. Similar to Shimla and Kullu Valley, Manali is pretty scenic with large flower gardens, silent and mist filled valleys, apple orchards, and snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas.
Aside from being a summer getaway, Manali is also thronged by mountaineers and hikers. They are attracted mainly by the Rohtang Pass, the tallest point on the Manali-Keylong Road.
The Himalayas in spite of snow coverings through most of the year surprisingly has several natural geysers (hot water springs). Manali proudly possesses two such hot water fountains namely:
- Kalath Hot Water Springs
- Vashist Hot Water Springs
The snowy Solang Valley is a wonderful skiing ground in Manali hill station.
Manali is easy to reach from Shimla. However, if you can tolerate a 10-hour bus journey from New Delhi, there are several direct buses that operate between Manali and New Delhi.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Most of the Arunachal Pradesh can be called as a hill station. This Buddhist town is abutting the Chinese border too. The towering hills, sudden waterfalls, chilly rivers, dense forest cover are all alluring to visitors who have to enjoy this uncrowded hill station in India.
Some of the striking sightseeing places in Tawang are:
- Gorichen Peak
- Nuranang Waterfalls
- Sela Pass
- Shonga-tser Lake
- Paradise Lake
- Tawang Monastery
- Bap Teng Kang Waterfall
Tawang hill station in Arunachal Pradesh can be reached either from Tezpur or from Guwahati. Both are in the Assam state of India. There is a weekly train to Arunachal Pradesh from New Delhi. In addition, there is a daily train from Guwahati too. You have to get down Naharlagun railway station and take a taxi to Tawang that is just 10 km away.
There is no airport in Arunachal Pradesh and the nearest airport to Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh is at Lilabari in Assam. From there, you can go to Itanagar by car in about two hours.
This is one more hill station in Arunachal Pradesh. Most of the hill stations in the Eastern Himalayas are not highly visited and hence offers a fair amount of privacy to hill station lovers. The green mountains covered with apple trees, serenely beautiful landscape are big attraction factors for Bomdila, a spectacular summer retreat.
Since most of the Eastern Himalayas states of India are predominantly Buddhism following areas, you can see several remotely tucked away Buddhist monasteries here also.
That’s the image of Dirang Valley near Bomdila hill station in Arunachal Pradesh. OMG! Isn’t that picturesque?
There are 3 wildlife sanctuaries in Bomdila that are:
- Kameng Elephant Reserve.
- Sessa Orchid Sanctuary
- Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary
Reaching Bomdila is same as reaching Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. Fly up to Tezpur in Assam and hire a taxi. It will be a 6 hour-ride that cannot be called as comfortable.
This small hill station is popular more among the people living in New Delhi, and Punjab than the residents of rest of India. A few decades ago, Almora was much talked about hill station in India but due to development of other major hill stations, Almora has taken a back seat since then. Nevertheless, nothing can take Almora’s terrific beauty and calmness-right?
Situated at a comfortable elevation of around 5500 feet in the Himalayas (Uttarakhand region), Almora is located on Kashyap Hill that is carrying hundreds of pine and oak trees on its back.
In India, most of the Himalayan hill stations have one or two wildlife sanctuaries. Almora has Binsar Wildlife sanctuary.
The nearest railhead is Kothagodam and from there, Almora is about 3 hours car ride. Kothagodam is located at about 300 km from New Delhi and there are several trains to Kothagodam from Delhi.
Have you ever heard of this hill station in Himachal Pradesh? Green valleys everywhere are eye-catching in Kyelang that has several Buddhist monasteries because of the proximity of Tibet.
The Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh is where nature is at its unpolluted best. When you go to Manali hill station, you can plan a day trip to Kyelang that is just 120 km away.
Accessing the Kyelang hill station is a bit difficult because of its distance from Manali or the nearest rail station Jogindernagar that is a whopping 7 to 8 hours car ride.
If you want to see the true Himalayan meadows, Uttarakhand state in India is the best place. There are several hill stations in Uttarakhand because the entire state is situated on the mighty Himalayas.
Chopta hill station is found on the way to the famous Kedarnath temple in the Garhwal hills of the Himalayas.
The rolling hills scattered with vast tracts of grasslands are pristine to watch; soak in the stunning natural beauty of Chopta for hours together.
Some of the sightseeing places in Chopta hill station are:
- Deoria Lake
- Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
- the Kanchula Korak Musk Deer Sanctuary
You can visit Chopta hill station by 4 hours car ride either from Rishikesh or Dehradun railway station.
Mahabaleshwar is an exclusive station for the Mumbaikars (residents of Mumbai city). This place is where the strawberries are cultivated extensively.
From Mumbai, the distance to Mahabaleshwar hill station is about 270 km. The nearest rail station is Satara that is located 58 km from Mahabaleshwar.
When you go to Mahabaleshwar, don’t miss visiting Venna Lake, Pratapgad, Elephant’s head point, and Lingmala waterfall.
I know I have left out a minimum of 30 more hill stations in India that I intend to cover later.