Gorgeous summer getaways in South India
Hill stations have become one of the most sought-after holiday destinations to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities. Hill stations offer clean air, peaceful surroundings, and raw nature, all of which are missing from our fast-paced city lives. It is hardly surprising to see an increasing number of people looking to unwind and relax at such hill stations. While each state has some famous hill stations, there are a few visited by people from across the planet. Down south, Ooty, Coonoor and Munnar are a few of the famous hill stations that see lakhs of tourists every year. Given the beauty and uniqueness of these places, one can certainly see why people chose these hill stations over others.
The most famous hill station in Southern India is undoubtedly Ootacamund or Udhagamandalam, famously known as Ooty. Located at an altitude of 2240 metres in the Nilgiri Hills, this beautiful hill station is blessed with lush green cover, lakes, pleasant weather and picturesque landscapes. Originally inhabited by only the tribal people, it is one of the few places where tribal people co-exist with others. To begin the journey into this paradise, you can take the Nilgiri Mountain Railway starting from Mettupalayam and reach all the way to Ooty in five hours. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway built in 1908 by the British is a world heritage site. The entire train ride is filled with the stunning views along the way. For anyone trying to avoid the long train journey, Coimbatore taxis can help you reach your destination.
Once you reach Ooty, the Ooty Lake is the first place you should be headed to experience the calmness and serenity of the place. The Ooty Lake is spread over an area of 65 acres and surrounded by green cover all around it. Various streams can be seen coming through the hills all the way into the lake. Visitors can also indulge in boating by hiring boats available from the boathouse. The Wax World Museum is very close to the Ooty Lake and should be definitely visited. Ooty boasts of several structures of the bygone colonial era that will take you back to a different era. The Fernhill Palace which was built by Capt. F. Cotton in 1844 became the summer Palace of the Mysore Maharajas when then Maharaja of Mysore bought it for Rs 10,000 in 1873. Today, WelcomHeritage run a hotel which gives you a chance to experience the grandeur first-hand.
Stone House is another iconic structure which was the first bungalow to be built in Ooty. The Collector of Coimbatore at that time, John Sullivan acquired the land from Toda tribe at the rate of 1 Rs/ acre and began the construction of the Bungalow. The Stone House which is currently the official residence of the Principal of the Government Arts College has some European architecture worth seeing. The Doddabetta Peak, the highest point in South India is barely 10 km from Ooty. The peak offers stunning views of the Nilgris from the top. The Botanical Garden located on the lowers slopes of the Doddabetta Peak is home to fossil tree believed to be 20 million years old. Besides, there are several gardens, waterfalls, and temples that you can visit in Ooty.
Barely 20 km for Ooty is yet another magnificent hill station, Coonoor. Located at the height of 1,850 metres, this town is blessed with a green cover around the year earning it the name, the Green Valley. While the town is always bustling with tourists, the tranquillity and serenity of the town are not lost. There are a few places in the town that you can visit including the Thandu Mariamman Temple, St. George Church, Sim’s Park, Guernsey Tea Factory, and The Droog. There are a lot of trekking opportunities for the adventure enthusiasts that will allow them to explore places such as Lamb’s Rock, Dolphin’s Nose, and Lady Canning’s Seat.
About 250 km down south from Ooty in the state of Kerala resides one of the other renowned hill-stations of Southern India, Munnar. The location of the town along with the sprawling tea-plantations and winding lanes make Munnar one of the ideal hill stations. Once the summer retreat of the British, today, this town is renowned across the world for its tea and spice plantations. You should visit the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate which is believed to be the highest tea plantation in the world. Tourists can also taste the fresh tea which is rich in special flavours. The Mattupetti Dam near Munnar is also renowned the Indo-Swiss livestock projects. Visitors can witness three of the total eleven farms present in the dairy farm. There are other tourist points such as Rose Garden, Echo Point, Elephant Arrival spot, Photo Point, and Kundala Lake that should be visited.
While these hill-stations have developed rapidly over the years, it also resulted in better connectivity for these once remote places. Today, tourists can take Bangalore to Ooty cabs at reasonable rates and enjoy the road trip. Visitors can also fly into Coimbatore which has excellent connectivity with other cities across the country. Once in the city, you can rent a car in Coimbatore to visit the hill stations without relying on the state transport.