Hill Stations

Top 10 Hill Stations in India that give you serious wanderlust!

‘The Mountains are calling and I must go’ – John Muir

The hills and mountains have an alluring and mystical aura that has drawn travelers to them since forever. From the yogis of yore to the modern-day trekkers, all kinds of people from all walks of life have been inspired and awed by the mountains. Some lucky ones call these hills their home and have settled into quaint hill stations. In India, the hills are spread across the Western Ghats along the western coast which cover the Nilgiri Hills and Sahyadri Hills, the Eastern Ghats along the eastern coast, the Satpuras and Vindhyas in Central India, the Garo Khasi Hills in eastern India and of course the mighty Himalayan Ranges in the North!

We have listed the Top 10 hill stations in these mountains that will satisfy the wanderlust in you;include these in your backpacking itinerary –

Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh

Love the mountains and driving down mountain roads? How about viewing those snaking roads from high up in the sky?! You can do that now while Para Gliding from Bir Billing. Bir is a small hill station in Himachal Pradesh and has gained popularity, thanks to Para Gliding. The picturesque town has open valleys that are perfect to glide and cruise over. Apart from enjoying an adrenaline rush, you can also visit the Tibetan settlement and visit the Palpung Sherabling Monastery.
Best Time to Visit – March to June, the summer season is perfect for paragliding
How to reach – You can take the bus from Delhi (International Airport) to Baijnath and then local transport to Bir (10 KM from Baijnath)
Where to Stay – You must camp in Bir Billing, however if you wish to stay at a hostel then Zostel is a great place.

Aru, Kashmir

Away from the tourist spots of Srinagar and Pahalgam is a tiny village called Aru, nestled in the folds of the Aru Valley. Unending meadows dotted with conifer forests and snow-capped mountains looming in the horizon is what Aru looks like! This hill station is perfect for both the leisure and active traveler. You can just lay back on the grassy meadow and read a book, or go on a trek to the nearby Kolahoi Glacier and Tarsar-Marsar Lakes, the choice is yours!
Best Time to Visit – Summer and monsoons from March to November are a great time to visit Aru
How to Reach – You can reach Aru by road from Pahalgam (12KM). Srinagar is about 100KM away from Aru
Where to Stay – You can stay at the Tourist Bungalow of the Tourism Department or at the hotels midway from Pahalgam

Gangtok, Sikkim

Imagine traveling along winding roads with the mist rolling in and the multicolor Buddhist flags fluttering against the backdrop of verdant green forests. This is the quintessential Sikkim experience. Gangtok is the capital of the ‘Mountain state of India’ Sikkim. The bustling hill station is the cultural and tourism hub of the state and is thronged by tourists through the year. You can experience the Tibetan heritage of the hill station at the Rumtek Monastery and do not give a miss to the Tsomgo Lake, a stunning crystal blue lake. Do take a ride on the Gangtok Cable Car!
Best Time to Visit – Except the monsoons anytime from September to June is a great time to visit
How to reach – The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (120KM) in West Bengal and the nearest airport is at Bagdogra (124 KM). You can reach Gangtok only via Road.
Where to Stay – Gangtok does not have a hosteling culture but it has several good guesthouses and budget hotels

Munnar, Kerala

The undulating hills covered by neat rows of tea plantation are a sight to behold. The picture is complete with the rugged mountains in the background and a clear blue sky dotted with clouds. Oh but all it takes is a moment to change this to a beautiful misty hill station with rain splashing down! Munnar is a hill station located in the Western Ghats of Kerala. While the town itself is a major tea hub, the surrounding area is dense forest and is even home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and other animals. In Munnar enjoy cycling through the town and visiting the Eravikulam National Park. Also learn how tea is manufactured at the highest tea estate in the world at Kolukkumalai!
Best Time to Visit –You can visit all year around even the monsoon has its own charm in Munnar. There is no danger of landslides in this area
How to Reach – Munnar can be reached via road from Cochin (Both International Airport & Railhead). It is about 130KM away from Cochin
Where to Stay – Nakshatra Inn and Bamboo Dale are good places to stay for backpackers

Auli, Uttarakhand

Swish, swish, wohoo!! You might think that you are in the Alps of Switzerland at some exotic ski destination. The snow laden slopes of Auli in Uttarakhand might make you believe so! Auli Bugyal meaning meadows are transformed in the winter months to a world class ski destination. Complete with cable car, chairlift and ski lift, the hill station has all the facilities for professional and amateur skiers. The idyllic setting with wooden log houses is surrounded by conifer forests and snow peaked mountains. Apart from skiing you can also go on treks on the many trails across the mountains.
Best Time to Visit – January to March is the best time for skiing
How to Reach – You have to first reach Joshimath which is about 270KM away from Haridwar (Railhead) and then drive to Auli. You can reach Haridwar from Delhi by train or road (220KM)
Where to Stay – The Tourism Department has a great tourist bungalow with Dorm Rooms suitable for backpackers

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya

Not many travelers would equate India to cleanliness but a visit to the ‘Cleanest Village in Asia’ will change your mind! Mawlynnong, the East Khase Hills of Meghalaya is a tiny village which has come to fame because of its cleanliness. While in Mawlynnong visit the Living Root Bridges which are an amazing example of integrating nature and architecture. Also visit the nearby Cherrapunji and Mawsynram to complete your visit to this incredibly beautiful part of North East India.
Best Time to Visit – The summer months from March to June are a perfect time to visit, because the monsoons can bring incessant rains
How to Reach – You can reach by road from Shillong (90KM) which also has an airport
Where to Stay – The best way to experience Mawlynnong is by staying in the village homestays with the local families

Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

The Home of Dalai Lama, Dharamsala is known to the world as the Centre for Tibetan exile movement. But this scenic hill station has a lot more to offer! Popular among the backpacker community, Dharamsala and its suburb – Mcleodganj are hubs for trekking and adventure activities. The most famous trekking trail is to Triund, you can even get your own tent and camp on the trail here. There is also the breath-taking Kareri Lake which offers tranquil waters that are surrounded by striking mountain scenery. Don’t forget to visit the highest cricket stadium in the world too!
Best Time to Visit – Dharamsala is a great place to visit through the year and watch the seasons change. However, summers from March to June are extremely pleasant with clear skies
How to Reach – The nearest airport is Gaggal, at about 13KM from the town of Dharamsala. You can also travel by road from Delhi (520KM) or take a train till Pathankot and then drive to Dharamsala
Where to Stay – Mcleodganj & Dharamsala has a thriving hosteling community and Hostelavie Mcleodganj is the best place to bunk at

Lonavala, Maharashtra

Ancient fortifications, winding hill roads, natural waterfalls and misty evenings – you won’t ask for much more when in Lonavala! The tiny hill station in Pune district is a world away from Pune city and inarguably one of the best monsoon destinations in India. The dry grassy hills of the Sahyadris transforms overnight into a green meadows with the first showers. Climbing the ancient Lohagad Fort of Shivaji, visiting the millennia old Karla Caves and watching the sunset at Tiger’s Leap are some of the things you must do in Lonavala. Also visit the nearby Khandala and Mahabaleshwar villages!
Best Time to Visit – The monsoon period from June to September is the best time to visit Lonavala
How to Reach – Lonavala is about 65KM away from Pune and 83KM away from Mumbai. You can take a bus or train to reach Lonavala from both the cities.
Where to Stay – Lonavala does not have any hostels but several guest houses and budget hotels

Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Want to experience World Heritage on the move? Take a trip on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Ooty! The train covers a distance of 26KM and crosses 16 tunnels, 208 curves and 250 bridges over almost 5 hours. Chugging through at a leisurely place this train will give you a kaleidoscope view of the hill station of Ooty. The hill station also has several pristine lakes such as Pykara Lake, Emerald Lake, Avalanche Lake and the famous Ooty Lake. You can also trek up to Mukurti Peak and Doddabetta Peak, the highest peak in the Nilgiris.
Best Time to Visit – Ooty can be visited at any time of the year, however if you are not too keen on crowds then give it a miss during the summer months of April and May when crowds throng the hill station
How to Reach – You can reach Ooty from Coimbatore (85 KM) by road. Coimbatore has a railhead as well as an airport.
Where to Stay – Ooty has a few hostels, the best ones being Zostel and Vedanta. There are also other budget hotels and homestays that you can choose to stay

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

If you are looking for an unspoilt and pristine hill station then look no further than Tawang! The remote hill station is all that you wished for, perfect climate, spectacular mountain views and peace. No wonder that the same was thought by Buddhist Monks who built the largest Buddhist Monastery in India – Tawang Monastery. Tawang has some hidden treasures like the breat-htaking Madhuri Lake, Pangateng Tso Lake and Nagula Lake. Of course, reaching Tawang is an adventure itself, you have to cross Sela Pass which is at an altitude of 13,680 ft!
Best Time to Visit – Summers are the best time to visit, from March to June
How to Reach – The nearest airport is at Tezpur about 320 KM away from Tawang but it takes over 10 hours to reach by road
Where to Stay – One of the best ways to experience Tawang is by staying in a homestay and the Tourism Department has a list of preferred homestays.

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