Standing atop a hill, amidst lush greenery with nothing more than clouds and fresh air as your mates, is like a dream come true. India is blessed with some very diverse landscapes, and its hills and mountains is a promising break from the daily grind. You could look towards any direction; be it North, South, East or West; there will always be a hill station, yet each will be distinct in its offering.
Think snow and tall alpine trees, and The Queen of Hills; Shimla comes first to mind. One of the most popular hill stations of North India, this capital city of Himachal Pradesh offers its tourist many a sights and adventures. The city offers grand old colonial buildings for those who love to meander around many beautiful excursion treks. The Mall is the main shopping and eatery area which is completely free from vehicular traffic. The golfers and picnickers would love to visit Naldehra, a 9-hole golf course and a hilltop picnic ground surrounded by fir trees. Snow skiing in winters, adventure sports and beautiful treks in summers, and lush greenery in the monsoons, Shimla is a paradise for all and at all times.
The bank of the mighty Brahmaputra has given Guwahati, a distinct identity. Now, this may not be your typical hill station, but it’s the doorway to the enchanting North East. Home to the one-horned rhinoceroses, Guwahati is a nature lover’s paradise. Visit the Kaziranga national park, Pobitora wildlife sanctuary and much more. For those seeking divine goodwill, a visit to the Kamakhya temple is a must. Assam is blessed with music and dance, Bihu being the most famous. An eclectic taste in music can be enjoyed in Café Hendrix, home to the Nort Eastern musicians. While in Guwahati, don’t forget to visit Sualkuchi, a weaver’s hub for the famous Assam silk.
Part of the Western Ghats, Ooty is dotted with tea and coffee plantations, gardens and acres of conifers, pines and eucalyptus trees. The toy train of yesteryears will take you through some very picturesque views. For all flower lovers, the Botanical and Rosegarden offers a mesmerizing collection of plants and flowers. Enjoy bird watching from the Kalhatti falls or the serene beauty of the Emerald Lake and the Kamraj Sagar Lake. Connor is close by for those who want to soak in some more sun and beautiful environs.
Coorg, the coffee hub of India is located on the enviable slopes of the Western Ghats. Walking through a coffee plantation early in the mornings is a perfect way to start your day. Just breathing in the fresh coffee aroma will awaken your senses. For a sweeping panoramic view of the hills and the sunset, visit the Raja’s seat in Madikeri town. A three-hour drive along coffee plantations and waterfalls from the town is the wildlife sanctuary Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Try fishing in Cauvery waters near Kushalnagar is also known for its elephant training camp. Coorg offers a bit of Sikkim too; the Namdroling monastery and the Great Gompa in Bylekuppe is a Tibetan settlement.
All hill stations have these special books that are waiting to be discovered. While most destinations are lined up for you, one must break away a wee bit from the expected places to visit to enjoy the hills completely as they were intended to be; a surprise!