The Western Ghats dominate the landscape of the Southern states, with their natural bounty, an abundance of wildlife and serenity! If you are looking to beat the summer heat and plan to head to head out to the hills then you must check these offbeat destinations that are as gorgeous as Kodai or Munnar yet less crowded and have more adventures to offer for the wanderlusters out there!
Idukki district is a densely forested, mountainous region in Kerala and famous for the rare, blue Neelakurinji flower that blooms once in 12 years. Known for its tea plantations, the wilderness and the natural surroundings make Idukki an attractive destination for the wildlife lovers. It is one of the most sought after hill stations, where you can enjoy the elephant rides, find plenty of deer, giant, and Malabar squirrel in the wilderness.
Devikulam is a small hill station located close to Munnar and a must-visit spot for all who are in the vicinity. Its picturesque meadows and a vast range of exotic flora and fauna have made it a trekker’s delight and an excursion through these plantations makes for an enchanting experience.
ARAKU VALLEY (AP)
Araku valley, located at an altitude of almost 4,00 feet, is known as the Ooty of Andhra Pradesh and lures tourists with its breathtaking landscapes and pleasant weather. A three-hour drive from Vizag, Araku Valley has plenty of attractions such as the 150-million-year-old Borra Caves, located 35 kilometers from the valley. The valley, especially during full bloom, is a nature lovers delight, and is poised to become a ‘Hot air ballooning destination’.
ANANTHAGIRI HILLS (TS)
There aren’t a lot of weekend getaways from Hyderabad but Ananthagiri hills are rated as one of the best places for a relaxing holiday! Considered to have one of the densest forests of the region, Ananthagiri Hills is covered in red soil and an upcoming adventure sports destination.
Ponmudi, a nondescript hill station destination is famous for its mist-covered hills and considered to be the Ooty of Trivandrum. The name translates to Golden Peak and it is one of the least crowded destinations in the South, with narrow winding pathways and cool green environment all year round. Located close to the sea, one can enjoy the hills as well as drive down to the beaches for an extended holiday!
Vagamon, with its never-ending line of lush green meadows and breathtaking ravines, is a perfect tourist place surrounded by tea gardens, fresh cool air, and small waterfalls. The curvaceous roads to Vagamon are cut in solid rock lined with pine forests, and lets you enjoy a soft breeze blowing across the valley.
Situated in the Kollam district of Kerala, Thenmala has been divided into three major zones, each with a particular theme – Culture Zone, Leisure Zone, and Adventure Zone. The place was once famous for its honey that was believed to have medicinal properties. A quiet place away from the chaos of the cities, it offers a never-ending list of attractions, along with breathtaking views of the Western Ghats in all their splendor.
It is one of the most talked about trekking destinations in Karnataka, due to its massive span, natural beauty, and serenity. Kodachadri, the highest peak of Shimoga district and located in the middle of the Mookambika National Park, is home to many endemic and endangered species of flora and fauna. The place is considered as a natural heritage site and is home to a variety of wildlife such as the Tiger, Bison, Cobra, Python and many more.
The fact that a lot of the locals in South India don’t know about this destination, is a testimony to how offbeat it is! Chinnakanal is located about an hour’s drive down from Munnar and known for its view of the Western Ghats. Away from the hustle and bustle of Munnar, this destination is great for trekking, wildlife spotting and boating that takes place in the reservoir close to the village.
Bellikkal, a small village located in the Nilgiris, is one of those places where you can completely relax, without having to worry about following a checklist of activities that you need to do. Quite an offbeat holiday destination, Bellikkal is surrounded by dense forests which include Mudumalai forest and Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary.
Kaginahare, located on top of a hill that overlooks cloud covered misty mountains, is a beautiful village in the heart of the western ghats rich in biodiversity. The ruins of a fort built by Tippu Sultan, coupled with the beautiful range of western ghats can be found here. A favorite weekend destination for bikers and adventure enthusiasts, it is a must visit for those heading towards Sakleshpur.
Wow, a lot of references to Ooty in this blog, as Nelliyampathy is better known as Poor Man’s Ooty, mainly because of its virgin, unexplored terrain. The road to this hill destination takes you through 23 dizzying hairpin bends; something the riders love to do for their weekend thrills! A visit to Nelliyampathy is complete when you experience plantation tours, treks and are lucky enough to spot some bison, elephants, and deer.
With pine forests, vast Greenlands, amazing waterfalls and diverse wildlife sanctuaries, Peermede a favorite haunt of tourists to Kerala who’d like to enjoy a pleasantly cool weather throughout the year. Located just 35 km from Thekkady, this hill station has a lot to offer in terms of cool climate, sprawling meadows and tons of trekking trails that will leave you speechless!
One of the most gorgeous tea plantations in the country and hands down beating destinations like Munnar, Kodaikanal, and Ooty with its perfectly landscaped terrain, cloudy mountains, and green environment. The man-made tea and coffee plantations are full of wildlife such as elephant, gaur, tiger, panther, sloth bear, deer, wild dog, porcupine, flying squirrel, jackal, pangolin, civet cat and birds like rocket-tailed drongo, red-whiskered bulbul, black headed oriole, tree pie, spotted dove, green pigeon, etc. You can see Valparai in pictures here.
Chathurangapara, located in the Idukki district is dotted with hundreds of windmills placed in this region as the heavy winds passing between the mountains here has a great impact of the production of electricity in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The viewpoint is an extremely gorgeous hiking spot for travelers and is currently untouched because very few people know about this place.
Rumored to have witnessed snowfall decades ago, Lambasingi is known as the ‘Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh’ and is home to an isolated tribal community. A trip here will take you into the lovely green countryside, densely forested the Eastern Ghats and bombard your senses with a wide spectrum of colors.
PAPI HILLS (TS)
The Papi Hills, resembling Kashmir is an elegant hill station spread along the Godavari river and a favorite spot for nature lovers. You can enjoy waterfalls, trekking, fishing, bird watching, and camp for the night surrounded by amazing landscapes.
My favorite place in the whole wide world, Agumbe is a small village located in Thirthahalli taluk in the Malnad region of Karnataka. Being one of the few Rain Forests in India, it is sometimes referred to as “The Cherrapunji of the South” and is home to a King Cobra Research Centre. Agumbe’s actual claim to fame is the actual house of “Swami” from “Malgudi Days”, named Dodda Mane where travelers can book their stay.
Known for its abundant scenic beauty, Kumily is a beautiful town that is extremely popular for its tea and spice plantation, and is one of the most important commercial and tourist centers of Kerala. Its close proximity to the Periyar Tiger Reserve makes it a wildlife lover preferred weekend destination.
Located near Horanadu, Kyatanamakki is a hill station with a spectacular landscape, green hills, misty mountains, numerous caves, magnificent waterfalls and jungle trails. It is an adventure junky’s dream off-road destination and can only be accessed by 4*4 vehicles.
For the Top 20 Off Beat Hill destinations in North India, click here.