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These Charming Hill Stations In South India Are Perfect For A Relaxed New Year Getaway

With lush tea gardens, serene lakes, and stunning waterfalls, hill stations in South India are a refreshing break from the tourist-saturated spots up North. And they’re perfect if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxed vacation going into the new year. Grab a light sweater and the novel you’ve been reading, and head to one of these charming spots down South this holiday season. By Eshita Srinivas

Mountain towns in North India have long been tourist-favourite winter destinations. Hotels are often packed with eager tourists looking to catch a glimpse of snow-clad mountain peaks and try their hand at adventure sports like skiing and sledging. Naturally, these spots are bustling during this time of the year and aren’t the best options if you’re looking for something a bit more quiet and relaxed. Here’s where places down under come in.

What they lack in snow, hill stations in South India make up for picturesque surroundings and a serene atmosphere. Couched in the lap of the Western and Eastern Ghats, these destinations are a quick drive or plane ride away from major South Indian cities and promise visitors a relaxing vacation that will leave them feeling recharged and rejuvenated going into 2022.

Head to these hill stations in South India to recharge before the new year

1
Araku Valley

An underrated hill town in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, Araku Valley sits at the height of about 2,990 feet above sea level. The Eastern Ghats surround the region, and visitors driving down are greeted with tunnels, waterfalls, orchards, and valleys along the way. The place itself is lush and green with acres and acres of coffee plantations farmed by the local aboriginal tribes. Araku is also home to the Anantagiri and Sunkrimetta reserved forests, and must-visit spots in the region include the tribal museum and the mulberry gardens. If you’re in the mood for something adventurous while there, you could trek your way through popular trails to reach the base of stunning waterfalls, such as the Katiki waterfall. We recommend indulging in your coffee obsession and digging into the local bamboo chicken before heading home. 

 

2
Coonoor

Sweeping valleys and rolling hills shrouded in mist make up Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor, a quiet town in Western Ghat’s Nilgiris. The region has an abundance of fragrant tea estates, and a trip here would be incomplete without a day spent savouring tea and taking a leisurely walk through the region, in the company of lush tea crops. After a lazy breakfast, head to the rose garden or Sim’s park for a tete-a-tete with various varieties of flowers and trees. Carve out some time to take in the waterfalls around the region or go on a hike in the woods. And if you’re feeling lazy, relax in your heritage hotel with a cup of Nilgiris tea while enjoying the nip in the air and the stunning scenery that comes with it.

3
Coorg

Between the vast coffee plantations, lush valleys, charming colonial structures, and picturesque roads, it’s no surprise that Coorg is known as the Scotland of India. Locals in Bengaluru often drive down to the hill station on weekends and other holidays to escape the hustle and noise of the city and spend a few days in the lap of nature. You could spend days doing nothing but taking in the sights and eating your way through the local cuisine, and on days when you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, head to the Abbey falls to listen to the cascading water roar as it hits rocks or bathes and interact with elephants at the Dubare elephant camp. You could also watch the sunrise from Raja’s seat or trek up to the peak of one of the many mountains in the region, perhaps even Tadiandamol, Karnataka’s second-highest mountain.

4
Kodaikanal

Breezy climate meets old-world charm in Kodaikanal, one of Tamil Nadu’s most popular hill stations. In the lap of the Western Ghats, the place has a man-made lake called Kodai lake at its centre and happens to be the most popular landmark in the region. Boats populate the lake while tourists choose between cycling, balloon shooting, skating, and eating the delicious local fare. A typical vacation here would involve walking down Coaker’s Walk, which is a kilometre-long pathway built on a steep slope that overlooks the whole town, getting acquainted with different varieties of orchids at the Shenbaganur museum, and exploring unusual rock formations and valleys of Guna caves. That’s not all, adventure enthusiasts can go trekking through dense forests to discover picturesque waterfalls, conquer peaks, or arrive at stunning campsites.

5
Munnar

God’s own country Kerala is home to this quaint hill station that’s also at the centre of three mountain streams merging, namely Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, and Kundala. Like other spots in this list, Munnar is known for its lush tea estates and diverse flora. It’s also very tourist-friendly with several boutique hotels and retreats in the area. Wildlife enthusiasts will be thrilled by the opportunity to set sights on magnificent creatures like wild elephants, tigers, Nilgiri tahr, and Indian bison amongst many others at the Eravikulam National Park. Paragliding and trekking make up the adventure sports options in the region. Don’t miss out on trying some local Idiyappam with egg curry and Kerala style Malabar parotta and rice.

6
Ooty

Perhaps one of the most popular hill stations in the South, Ooty is a bit more bustling than other spots on this list. Known as the Queen of Hill Stations, the place has serene Hindu temples flanked by pretty gardens and charming colonial architecture. Travellers often visit tea plantations, shop for chocolates, walk through the parks, camp next to lakes, or trek to the neighbouring waterfalls. Some head straight to the miniature train, which slowly chugs its way past some of the most stunning scenery the place has to offer.

7
Vagamon

With rocky hills, verdant valleys, pine forests, misty views, lush landscapes, and a river cutting through both, Vagamon is so underrated that many Kerala, its home state, do not know of its existence. The hill station is ideal for adventure-seekers who can engage in trekking, camping, boating, and paragliding in the region. But that isn’t all that the place is known for. It’s home to the Ulipooni Wildlife Sanctuary and a diverse bird population from the Malabar grey hornbill to the spotted dove. Porcupines and hares also find their home in Vagamon.

8
Wayanad

An abundance of trekking trails, caves, bird-watching sites, coffee and tea plantations, and waterfalls make up Wayanad, a hill station in the northern hills of Kerala. Its natural beauty aside, the region is also a great destination for history buffs who can head to Eddakal caves to look at petroglyphs believed to be about 8,000 years old. In addition to holding proof of prehistoric settlement, Wayanad’s wildlife sanctuary is home to a diverse population of wildlife. Once you’ve exhausted all of the above options, you’ll still find yourself with plenty to do. Go boating on the Pookode Lake or hop on a bamboo raft to visit Kuruva Island, a cluster of islands on the Kabini River.

These Charming Hill Stations In South India Are Perfect For A Relaxed New Year Getaway
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