India is home to several hill stations that are both famous across the world as well as one of kind. From the hill stations in Kashmir such as Gulmarg to Shillong in Meghalaya and to Coonoor in Tamil Nadu to Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, these hill stations are popular tourist destinations in India. Frequented by travellers across India and the world, we've picked out the best hill stations in India that you need to visit. Oh and in this list, you are going to find popular hill stations such as Manali as well as lesser-known hill stations like Ponmudi. So in no particular order, here are the top hill stations in India that you must visit at least once.
Ponmudi To Darjeeling: The 12 Hill Stations That You Need To Visit In India
If you ask us to pick between Ooty and Coonoor, we'd pick Coonoor any day. Part of the Nilgiri Hills range, Coonoor is a lot less crowded than Ooty and has scenic views of the hills and the endless tea plantations. In terms of things to do in Coonoor, there's plenty -- visit the Katary Waterfalls for starters. Stay and learn to make cheese at Acres Wild is another thing you can do. And of course, ride the Niligiri Mountain Railway from Coonoor to Ooty and back.
Best Time To Visit: October to March
Nearest Airport: Coimbatore International Airport
Set in the backdrop of the Dhauladhar Mountains, Dharamshala is a lovely hill station perched on the slopes of Kangra Valley. It's the winter capital of Himachal Pradesh. Adventure sports, a peaceful environment, sumptuous food and Tibetan culture are all that Dharamshala calls for. Apart from the scenic beauty, there are several places to visit in Dharamshala too such as Triund Hill, the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium, Gyuto Monastery, Dal Lake, and Wilderness Church.
Best Time To Visit: November To March
Nearest Airport: Kangra-Gaggal Airport
Also check out nearby hill stations such as Bir Billing, Palampur, and McLeod Ganj. McLeod Ganj is just under 10 kilometres from Dharamshala.
Just outside Trivandrum, Ponmudi is a hilly retreat that’s all prettied up by tea gardens, lush forests, and waterways. It's located 1,100 meters above sea level. It’s a fantastic destination for trekkers and hikers who can explore its many picturesque trails. Drive down to the nearby Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary to spot elephants, sambars, and other exotic creatures. Ponmudi also boasts of rich birdlife and is home to rare butterflies. Read more here.
Best Time To Visit: October To March
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum International Airport
Best Places To Stay: KTDC Golden Peak, Hill View Stay Inn, and River County Resort
Check out this list of lesser-known hill stations in South India that you must visit. They include places such as Yelagiri and Devikulam.
It's like a slice of Switerzland, only more accessible and a lot cheaper. Known primarily for its skiing resorts, the Meadow of Flowers (as Gulmarg is known) is a beautiful winter destination in India. You can play golf at the world's highest golf course, take in the scenic views of the Himalayan range, and of course, go skiing. Also check out places such as Alpather Lake, and Ningle Nallah.
Best Time To Visit: March to June
Nearest Airport: Srinagar Airport
Best Places To Stay: The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Nedou's Hotel, Kolahoi Green Heights, and The Marigold Resort.
Home to indigenous tribes on the Eastern Ghats, Araku Valley is amongst the highest peaks in Andhra Pradesh. The beauty of this place lies in its forests and coffee plantations (the coffee brand Araku sources its beans from here), and it is also known for its rich bio-diversity. So, while here at Araku Valley there are several things you can do including exploring the forests, and visiting the famous Borra Caves, and Mastyagundam.
Best Time To Visit: September to February
Nearest Airport: Visakhapatnam Airport
Best Places To Stay: Haritha Hill Resort, and Casa Holiday Resorts
Popularly known as Princess Of Hill Stations, Kodaikanal is one of South India's favourite honeymoon destinations and a popular hill station down South. Surrounded by forests and lakes, Kodaikanal is every hiker’s dream. As it is so commercialised, the stay options here are plenty and good. Look out for vintage cottage stays with scenic views — those are the best options we say. Kodaikanal has a lot of things to do -- a walk on Coaker's Walk is a must-do. The city has amazing cafes and restaurants too. The weather is pleasant all through the year and is a perfect spot for pitching a tent and camping. The views are promising, and the drive is great.
Best Time To Visit: October to June
Nearest Airport: Madurai Airport
Best Places To Stay: Sterling Kodai Lake, Bruton Resort, Quaint Chalet In The Hills, and Lofty Meadows
Vagamon is a popular hill station in Kerala (apart from Idukki, Wayanad, and Munnar) and it's a lot like Munnar with mist-covered hills, pine forests, estates, and lush meadows. Vagamon is known for its paragliding and boating activities and there's a lot you can do here. Visit Pine Hill, Marmala Waterfall, Vagamon Lake, and Vagamon Falls.
Best Time To Visit: October To March and March to June
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport
Munnar is mainly known for its tea plantations that have made it into many movies especially regional movies. You will find accommodation options across budget, you can easily check into this hill station. Echo-Point, Eravikulam National Park, and the Tea Museum are some of the places you can visit during your stay there. There are also Attukad Waterfalls, Nayamakad Waterfall, and some elephant parks that you can check out.
Best Time To Visit: December to February
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport
A popular hill station in India frequented by tourists from India and abroad, Manali has everything for every kind of traveller -- from the honeymooners to the adventure seekers. There's a lot you can do in Manali and we recommend you try your hand at everything from trekking to mountain biking and shopping to skiing. Since it's a popular tourist spot, you'll also find accommodations that come at budget-friendly prices as well as resorts that will ensure you are pampered.
Best Time To Visit: October to February and March to June
Nearest Airport: Kullu-Manali Airport (Bhuntar Airport)
Best Places To Stay: Himalayan Heights, Snow Valley Resorts, Hotel Piccadilly, Backpackers Headquarters, and The Whitestone Resorts
One of the popular hill stations near Bangalore, Coorg is a coffee haven. You can trek through the hills and coffee plantations, embark on wildlife safaris, visit local Tibetan settlements, and tuck into delicious Pandi curry – it’s all there! For a taste of the famous Kodava hospitality, you can check into any of the homestays or you can cool your heels at lavish, star properties as well.
Best Time To Visit: November to February
Nearest Airport: Mysore Airport
Regarded as the Scotland of the East, Shillong is one of the popular hill stations in the North East of India. Famous for its waterfalls, historical buildings, clear lakes, peaks, and museums, the capital of Meghalaya is a definite must-visit. You can do a lot of things in Shillong -- from visiting Umiam Lake to catching jaw-dropping views from Latkor Peak -- the hill station has a lot to offer.
Best Time To Visit: March to June
Nearest Airport: Shillong Airport
Best Places To Stay: A La Maison, Ri Kynjai, Pinewood Hotel, and Tripura Castle
Located in West Bengal, Darjeeling is a scenic hill station that's surrounded by tea plantations and is best known for the toy train that chugs along the mountainside. Of course, no trip to Darjeeling is complete without sipping on the famous Darjeeling Tea and visit the monasteries that are in the city. Do check out the Darjeeling-Rangeet Valley Ropeway, Tiger Hill, and the botanical gardens when you plan your list of things to do here.
Best Time To Visit: March to May and September to November
Nearest Airport: Bagdogra Airport
Best Places To Stay: Sinclairs, The Elgin, and Burdwan Palace
While you are in Darjeeling, visit nearby hill stations such as Kurseong, Kalimpong, Sandakphu, and Gangtok.
If you're heading to the hills, it goes without saying you need to layer up. Check out the jackets and hoodies on Nykaa Fashion. Our picks are the down jacket from Columbia, this nifty black water resistant one from Puma, and this fashionable one from Forever 21 for when you need to look cool despite the cold!