Set amidst the lofty mountain ranges, hill stations in India are ideal getaways to beat the heat of the plains. Relaxed vibes, pleasing weather, and imposing landscapes, a trip to the hills is all about retreating to nature. The outdoor activities here are a major draw for adventure-loving travelers. Have a look at this collection of the 12 best hill stations in India.
List of Hill Stations
Best Hill Stations in India
Teeming with verdant coffee plantations and lush teakwood forests, Coorg (Kodagu) is one of the most scenic hill stations in India. It is nestled at an average elevation of 3,000 ft (900 m) on the Western Ghats mountain range in Karnataka.
Coorg is fondly called the “Scotland of India” because of its unspoiled natural beauty and amazing weather. The gorgeous Abbey falls, abundant wildlife at Nagarhole National Park and Talakaveri temple are some of the major attractions of Coorg.
Talakaveri is known as the source of the holy river Kaveri. It also houses a famous temple, dedicated to Lord Brahma.
Abbey falls is located around 8 km from Madikeri town, the district headquarters of Kodagu. Surrounded by scenic coffee estates and spice plantations, it presents panoramic views of the surroundings.
Nagarhole National Park, also a tiger reserve, is known for its fascinating wildlife experiences. A part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Nagarhole along with Bandipur forest boasts a sizable tiger population.
Check this post to know, where can you find Bengal tigers in India: 12 Best Places To Sight Tigers in India.
Besides this, Coorg is also popular for adventure sports like trekking, river rafting, zip-lining. It is accessible by road from all major cities of Karnataka.
The nearest airport is in Mangalore, nearly 160 km away from the hill station. Mysore serves as the nearest railhead, which is roughly 110 km away.
A wonderful hill station in Garhwal Himalayas, Auli is blessed with irresistible natural beauty. It offers awe-inspiring landscapes with the backdrop of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks.
Situated at an altitude of 9,200 ft (2,800 m), Auli is amongst one of the best hill stations in India to enjoy skiing. It also serves as the base camp for some of the popular winter treks, like Kuari Pass trek at 12,516 ft.
Apart from the joy of trekking, it presents opportunities to relish the spectacular views of Nanda Devi, Dunagiri, Mana and Kamet peaks.
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This hill station is approximately 500 km from Delhi. You can take an overnight bus from Delhi to Rishikesh and hire a private cab for an onward journey to Auli. Another option is to reach Joshimath from Rishikesh by cab and take a cable car (ropeway) from there.
Nestled in the lap of Dhauladhar mountains at about 6,460 ft (1,970 m) elevation, Dalhousie is a quaint hill town in Himachal Pradesh. It is perched on a ridge, consisting of five hills – Kathlog, Potreyn, Terah, Bokrota and Bhangora.
This beautiful spot in the Chamba Valley is believed to be discovered by Lt. Col. Napier in 1850. It was established as a summer retreat by the British rulers and named after Lord Dalhousie, the then British Governor-General in India.
Encompassed by snow-capped mountains and lush rolling valleys, this unadulterated beauty of Himachal Pradesh leaves visitors mesmerized.
Cascading waterfalls, like Panjpula and Satdhara falls, Bakrota hills and Subhash Baoli (a perennial spring) are the prime attractions of Dalhousie.
On a good day with clear skies, Bakrota hills offer spectacular views of the Peer Panjal mountain range. Dalhousie is nature lovers’ delight and undoubtedly, one of the best hill stations in India to visit.
Adding to the old-world charm of this hill station are well-preserved edifices of British times. St. John’s Church, built in 1863 and St. Francis Church, built in 1894 are some of the oldest structures in this hill town.
Dalhousie is easily accessible by road from cities, like Delhi, Pathankot and Shimla. State Transport buses also ply from other parts of Himachal Pradesh to this hill town. Pathankot is the nearest railhead, about 80 km away.
The nearest airport is also located in Pathankot (87 km), which is connected only to Delhi. Kangra airport in Gaggal, nearly 110 km from Dalhousie, is the second-nearest airport.
Sitting amid the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya, Shillong is a nature retreat brimming with charming vistas. It is situated at an average altitude of 4,908 ft (1,496 m) with Shillong Peak as the highest point in the city at 6,449 ft.
The major draw of this hill station is the wealth of scenic sites, including the serene Umiam lake and gorgeous Elephant falls. The water sports complex at Umiam lake offers plenty of activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing rowing and speed boating.
It is one of the best hill stations in India that you can visit year-round. Pleasantly warm weather during summers (March to May), makes it a perfect season for sightseeing.
Monsoon is a great time to enjoy the gorgeous waterfalls in Shillong. July month usually has the highest rainfall. The chilly winter months, November to February, are considered the best for outdoor adventure sports.
Shillong is a 3-hour drive from Guwahati (100 km). Umroi Airport, 30 km from Shillong, is the nearest aerodrome. Guwahati serves as the nearest railhead to reach here.
Check this post, if you want to find out more about the major attractions of this hill stations: 12 Most Enchanting Tourist Places in Shillong.
Amid the snow-white peaks of the Lower Himalayan range at 6,700 ft (2,000 m), lies one of the majestic hill stations in India. Darjeeling is located on the north-western side of the state of West Bengal and is famously known as the “Queen of Hills”.
This hill town offers magnificent landscapes adorned with lush tea plantations and dense oak and sal forests. Tiger hill, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and Japanese Peace Pagoda are the prime attractions of Darjeeling.
The splendid views of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, from Tiger hill is a sight to behold. This hill is situated about 13 km from the town at an altitude of 2590 m.
Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak is also visible from the Tiger hilltop on some days when the sky is clear.
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, popularly called toy train, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is an 88-km long scenic train ride on a narrow-gauge track that connects Darjeeling to New Jalpaiguri.
Perched atop Jalapahar Hill, nearly 2 km from the main town, the Japanese Peace Pagoda is a beautiful Buddhist temple. It displays various incarnations of Lord Buddha.
Apart from this, Singalila National Park, roughly 37 km from Darjeeling town, is a great place to explore the unique biodiversity of the region. Situated on Singalaila ridge at an altitude of more than 7,000 ft, it is the highest altitude national park of West Bengal.
The park is part of a trekking trail to Sandakphu and Phalut, the two highest peaks of the ridge. It is home to some of the rarest forms of wildlife, such as red pandas.
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If you are interested to know more about the best places to visit in Darjeeling, check this post: Top 10 Tourist Places in Darjeeling.
Darjeeling doesn’t have an airport. The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, about 90 km from Darjeeling. It is a 3-hours drive from the airport to the hill town.
New Jalpaiguri (90 km) is the nearest major railway station. From there, you can either take the famous toy train ride or hire a taxi to reach Darjeeling.
Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh is a popular hilly retreat from the summer heat of the plains. It is set atop a ridge at an average altitude of 7,238 ft (2,206 m).
Shimla offers a perfect winter destination for snow lovers when it receives snowfall, usually between December to February. This is the time to enjoy winter sports, such as skiing and ice skating.
It hosts the largest natural ice skating rink in South Asia. The city has pleasing weather even during summers from March to June.
It is one of the best hill stations in India that attracts nature-loving tourists throughout the year. Owing to its amazing weather conditions, Shimla became the summer capital of British India in 1863.
Many colonial structures, styled in Victorian architecture, are still standing tall in the city. The Christ Church, constructed somewhere during the 1850’s is a famous attraction of Shimla.
Jakhoo Hill, The Ridge of Shimla, Kufri and Mall Road are some of the spots that you can visit in a day excursion. Jakhu hill offers a panoramic view of the city and also houses a temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
A large open space in the middle of the city with mesmerizing views of the surroundings is known as The Ridge. Mall road, the main street of the city is a popular shopping hub.
Shimla is well connected through roadways with to cities, like Chandigarh (112 km) and Delhi (342 km).
Roughly 90 km from Shimla, Kalka Railway Station is the nearest railhead. Shimla Airport located in Jubbarhatti, 22 km away from the city, is the nearest domestic airport.
An ethereal beauty in Uttarakhand, Nainital sits at 6,837 ft (2,084 m) in Kumaon Himalayas. Surrounded by rolling hills on three sides, Nainital is one of the best hill stations in India to get close to nature.
In British India, it was the summer capital of the United Provinces (Agra and Oudh). Nainital is located around the beautiful Naini lake, a major tourist spot in the city.
A trip to Nainital is all about experiencing nature’s bliss amid beautiful vistas of the majestic hills and picturesque Naini lake. Snow View Point, Eco Cave Gardens and Naina Devi temple are some of the popular attractions here.
At 2,270 m, Snow View Point offers arresting views of snow-capped Nanda Devi peak, Nanda Kot peak and the Trishul peak. Eco cave Gardens is a cluster of interconnected caves and is a great place to visit with kids.
The famous Naina Devi Temple is located right on the northern side of the Naini lake. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas and a highly revered site for Hindus.
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Nainital lies approximately 320 km away from Delhi that is a 9-hour drive. Kathgodam Railway Station is the nearest railhead to Nainital, almost 35 km away. Hire a taxi from Kathgodam for an onward journey.
Famously known as “Kashmir of South India”, Munnar is tucked in the hills of Western Ghats in Kerala. It lies at the confluence of three mountain streams – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala.
At about 1,600 (5,200 ft) elevation, this hill town is replete with splendid views of misty hills, sprawling tea estates and spice plantations. It once served as a summer resort for the British Government in South India.
It is one of the best hill stations in India to envelop yourself in nature. Kundala Lake, Echo Point, Anamudi Peak and Eravikulam National Park are some of the must-see attractions.
A shikara ride in the serene Kundala lake is a wonderful experience. It falls on the way to Top Station from Munnar town.
Surrounded by rolling hills, Echo Point is a popular spot to experience natural echo. Shout out anything and you will hear your own voice as it reverberates through hills.
Enjoy panoramic views of the Anamudi Peak from Eravikulam National Park. Popularly referred to as “Everest of South India”, Anamudi is the highest peak in the Western Ghats at 8,842 ft (2,695 m).
Aside from this, Eravikulam National Park is renowned for the largest population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr.
If you are interested to know more about all the major attractions of Munnar, check this post: 12 Best Tourist Places in Munnar.
Munnar is well connected by road from Kochi (126 km) and Thrissur (150 km). Aluva, about 105 km away, is the nearest railhead. Cochin International Airport is the nearest airport to reach this hill town.
It was founded in the early 19th century by John Sullivan, the first collector of Ooty. The hill town is situated on a plateau at an altitude of 7,350 feet (2,240 m).
Owing to pleasant climatic conditions, Ooty attracts travelers throughout the year. Ooty Botanical Gardens, Doddabetta Peak and Ooty Lake are some of the must-visit spots here.
Sprawling 22 acres, Ooty Botanical Gardens is a well-manicured garden showcasing a rare collection of flowering plants, shrubs, ferns and herbal plants.
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The highest point in the Nilgiri Mountain range. Doddabetta Peak offers astonishing views of the mist-laden surrounding valleys.
Covering an area of 65 acres, Ooty lake lies in the center of the town. Enjoy boating in this vast lake amid the picturesque environs of Eucalyptus plantations.
Besides this, you can enjoy the scenic toy train ride of Nilgiri Mountain Railway that connects Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam (Ooty). The Nilgiri Mountain Railway has been declared a World Heritage Site.
The nearest airport is in Coimbatore, approximately 88 km away. Mettupalayam, around 46 km from Ooty, is the closest railhead. From Mettupalayam, you can take a taxi or catch the toy train for onward journey to Ooty.
Popularly called “Mini Switzerland”, Khajjiar in Himachal Pradesh, is a place of incredible magnificence. It sits pretty at 6,500 ft on a saucer-shaped plateau in the majestic Dhauladhar range.
With the beautiful vistas of the snow-draped peaks, green meadows, and dense alpine forests, this tiny hamlet is no less than nature’s wonderland. Khajjiar Lake and Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary are the prime attractions of this hill station.
The sanctuary, spanning 30.7 sq km, hosts an array of scenic trails passing through thick deodar and fir forests. It is an ideal place for those interested in trekking.
Black bear, yellow-throated marten and barking gorals are some of the mammal species found in these forests. However, animal sightings are rare.
It is also one of the best hill stations in India to indulge in adventure activities, like zorbing, paragliding, trekking and horse-riding. Khajjiar is reachable by road from Dalhousie, around 24 km away.
A charming retreat in the hills of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal is a treasure trove for nature admirers. It is tucked on the slopes of the upper Palani Hills at an elevation of 6,998 ft (2,133 m).
Kodaikanal is popularly also called the “Princess of Hill Stations”. This hill town sprawls around the beautiful star-shaped Kodaikanal lake. Created in 1863 by British Raj, the lake has become an iconic landmark of the town and a fabled attraction.
Attractions, like Pine Forest, Pillar Rocks and Bryant Park have lured globetrotters since years. A prized possession of Kodaikanal, Pine plantations were started in the early 20th century by a British Forest Officer. Visitors flock here to enjoy a scenic walk amid the majestic pine trees.
Three gigantic rock pillars positioned at nearly 400 ft make a scenic viewpoint, known as Pillar Rocks. It offers stunning views of the surrounding mist-laden hills and valleys.
Bryant Park is a fabulous garden displaying a diverse collection of flowering plants. It is widely known for the annual flower show that is organized during May-June.
Truly one of the best hill stations in India, a trip to Kodaikanal is a much-needed break to rejuvenate yourself.
Whenever you plan your Kodaikanal trip, you will need to find a place to stay. Do check out this post covering the 10 best resorts in Kodaikanal.
You may also like: Top 12 Tourist Places in Kodaikanal.
Kodaikanal is well linked by road with major cities in Tamil Nadu, including Madurai (120 km), Coimbatore (175 km) and Trichy (198 km).
Kodai Road, almost 80 km away, is the nearest railhead. It connects Kodaikanal with cities, like Madurai and Coimbatore. The nearest airport is in Madurai.
Without a mention of Gulamrg, a fascinating winter destination in Kashmir, our list of the ‘12 best hill stations in India’ will remain incomplete.
In the Pir Panjal Range of the Lesser Himalayas at 8,694 ft (2,650 m), 56 km from Srinagar, lies the dazzling hill station – Gulmarg.
It was originally called Gauri Marg (the path of Gauri, Lord Shiva’s wife) which was renamed as Gulmarg by Chak dynasty emperor, Yusuf Shah.
Gulmarg has been attracting ski lovers since pre-independence days. It was first established as a ski resort in 1927 by the British rulers.
From December to February, Gulmarg usually gets a carpeting of snow. This time of the year is perfect for indulging in winter sports, like skiing, snowboarding and heli-skiing.
It offers incredible views of the snow-clad mountains and surrounding forests dotted with fir and pine trees. Gulmarg Gondola, a two-stage cable car, is a major attraction of this hill town.
Known as Asia’s highest cable car, the first stage connects Gulmarg to Kongdoori at 10,000 ft and the next stage to the Apharwat Peak at 13,800 ft.
Apart from this, Gulmarg Golf course and Maharani Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva) are also popular attractions. The temple was built in the early 20th century by Maharaja Hari Singh for his wife Maharani Mohini Bai Sisodia.
Gulmarg is not connected directly by flight or train. In order to get to Gulmarg, you first need to reach Srinagar. From there, it is approximately 2 hours’ drive by cab.
Over To You Now…
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