Kerala’s most unique and scenic Hill Stations
During the British Raj, many hill stations or towns were created in the mountains as a way to escape the sometimes oppressive heat of summer. With seven major mountain ranges in India, you’ll find a range of different hill stations to visit on your next trip to the country. You’ll find some of the country’s best hill stations located in the Western Ghats region of Kerala, most of which are easily accessible by road or rail. Browse eKeralaTourism.net to get the best deals when holidaying in Kerala and see some of these top hill stations of India for yourself.
Munnar is home to Southern India’s highest peak, Anamudi, which offers hikers great trekking opportunities. Visitors can check out Eravikulam National Park for the chance to spot sheep-like Nilgiri tahrs and every 12 years the hillsides become covered in purple-blue flowers called Neelakurinji. Sadly, the latest bloom occurred just recently in 2018 which means there’s a bit of a wait until the next bloom.
Visitors can enjoy boating on the lake near the Mattupetty Dam and take in the waterfalls of Chinnakanal. You’re bound to experience beautiful tea plantations around Munnar and you’ll find a tea museum where you can learn detailed history of the area’s plantations.
Another notable wildlife area is the nearby Kurinjimala Sanctuary where you might encounter Indian elephants as well as gaur.
Experience one of India’s finest wildlife reserves by paying a visit to Periyar National Park. Diverse habitats ranging from open grasslands to deciduous and semi-evergreen forests equates to a wide array of endangered animals. The sanctuary is home to dozens of Bengal tigers including a few incredibly rare white tigers. Large herds of Indian elephants can be seen sharing habitat with sambar deer, smooth-coated otters, and hornbills. Keep an eye out for the smaller secretive jungle cats, macaques, king cobras, and Indian giant squirrels. Watch towers provide great spots to view wildlife and the land surrounding the sanctuary is home to cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger farms as well as the Pattumalay Tea Factory.
Located just a short drive from Kerala’s capital city Thiruvananthapuram (also known as Trivandrum), Ponmudi offers some of the region’s most stunning landscapes. See a wide variety of birds and butterflies, many of which are endemic to the Western Ghats like the Malabar grey hornbill and Malabar tree nymph butterfly.
Walk along the banks of the Kallar River and even take a refreshing dip if the weather is hot. Also along the river is the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, where with a bit of luck you might encounter a sloth bear or Indian leopard. Make the long trek to see Menmutty Falls or settle for a casual stroll in Golden Valley where many head to enjoy an afternoon picnic.
Located in the Wayanad district of northeastern Kerala, Vythiri offers great weather year-round. Take a walk around Pookot Lake, a natural fresh water lake surrounded by evergreens, or enjoy a peaceful day on the water by renting a boat. Make the challenging climb up Chembra Peak or settle for taking in the three-tiered Soojipara Falls. The Chembra Peak Trek offers a 10 kilometer trek that will take you roughly 6 hours roundtrip, whereas a hike to Soojipara Falls can be reached via an easier 1 kilometer walk that takes just 20 minutes.
Be sure to pay a visit to the Chain Tree where a chain hangs from a banyan tree to mark the spot where an Adivasi tribesman was murdered by a British Colonialist. You can also check out ancient rock art by heading to the Edakkal Caves. Wildlife can easily be spotted in the area’s many reserves including the Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary.
Chembra Peak Soochipara Falls: photos by sankara Subramanian
Note that many treks through Kerala’s wildlife reserves and sanctuaries may require special permission from the Forestry Department.