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Top of the Hills

Most of the top hill stations in India were established by the European colonists who looked for milder salubrious weather conditions they were used to back home to find respite from the scorching summer in India.Today, these hill towns spread across India are some of the top tourist places to travel to in India in summer and they are also very popular for places to go for honeymoon in India. Mentioned below – in no particular order – are some of the best hill stations in India to plan your summer escape.

Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir

Famously known as ‘Heaven on Earth’, Srinagar is located in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, on the banks of river Jhelum. As picturesque as the most stunning painting to ever be painted, Srinagar is known for the stationary houseboats and colourful Shikararas on Dal Lake.

The gondola-type rowboats, Shikaras are used by the tourists to see attractions like the Floating Vegetable Market, and the Mir Bahris – a lively community of people who live on the lake itself. Known as the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar is home to some of the most exquisite Mughal-age gardens in India, with the top draws being Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh and Chashm-E-Sahi Garden Kashmiri cuisine is famous all over the globe, so when in Srinagar, trying out the local dishes, which are rich in unique fragrant spices, is a must.

Heavy snowfall affects the connectivity of Srinagar during the winter months of December to February. Communal tensions also lead to frequent curfews in parts of the city. Make sure to check the situation before visiting.

Most of the people are lured by the elegant lifestyle of the city, medieval – looking backstreets and glistering white Himalayan villages. The multiple cultures and rich heritages have emerged from the Indo – Aryan Civilization from years ago, bearing the cultural aspects of Islam this place which can be seen in their food, traditions and lifestyle. The people are great craftsmen who practice many of the lost art forms in the world. Most of the population constitutes of Hindus and Muslims, as common languages spoken are Koshur, Kashmiri and Hindi. Women wear colourful sweater made dresses and men wear gurgabi. Religion in Srinagar is very diverse, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism are commonly followed by the people. Muslims are divided into two major groups – Shyias and Sunnis. These cultural differences have majorly contributed towards the multicultural lifestyle adopted by the people today.

How to Reach ?

To reach Srinagar by train, one has to reach either Jammu Tawi or Udhampur railway station. The stations are well connected with different parts of India. From these stations, you can hire taxis, private as well as the state government buses to reach this magnificent place

Shillong, Meghalaya

The romantic city of Shillong is one of the important tourist destinations in the northeast. It is often referred to as the “Scotland of the East” due to its striking similarity with the Scottish highlands. The city derives its name from “Leishyllong”-the Superpower or God who is believed to reside on the Shillong peak, overlooking the city. Lying in the cradle of the tall pine conifers and pineapple shrubs, Shillong’s undulating terrain is a constant source of attraction for tourists from both home and abroad. The Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes add color to this hilly city.

Location

The capital of Meghalaya, Shillong lies on the eastern part of the state. Perched at an altitude of 1,520 meters (4,990 feet) above sea level, the city stretches for about 6 km on an elevated tract. It is situated on a plateau bound on the north by the Umiam gorge, on the northwest by the great mass of the Diengiei Hills that rise up to a height of 1,823 meters (6077 ft.) above sea level, and on the northeast by the hills of the Assam valley. The Umshyrpi and the Umkhra rivers, which finally merge and form the Umiam River, water it. Shillong is at distance of 104 km from Guwahati, 295 km from Kaziranga, 578 km from Siliguri and 658 km from Darjeeling. The climate is hot and humid during summers. The monsoons arrive in June and it rains almost until the end of August. It is quite cold during winter

How to Reach ?

BY AIR –

The nearest airport and railhead is Guwahati in Assam.

BY ROAD –

The Guwahati-Shillong Road connects the two cities. Pineapple plantations and pine trees on both sides line the road. There are buses every half an hour to Guwahati. Taxi services (Ph. 223895) are also available at cheap rates.

Tourist Attractions

Waterfalls

  • The Crinoline Falls is about 12-13 m in height and lies to the west of the Survey of India Office. There is a swimming pool at the base of the falls.
  • The Gunner’s Falls 1 is about 24-26 m in height and is near the military establishment on the Upper Shillong road. It is about 1.6 km from the GPO.
  • The Gunner’s Falls 2 lies a km away from the Happy Valley amidst picturesque locales.
  • The Spread Eagle Falls or Sati Falls is located about a mile away from the Polo Ground. It is a famous picnic spot.
  • The Sweet Falls (also called “Weitden,” in the native dialect) is the most beautiful of all the waterfalls in Shillong. It lies about 5 km from the Happy Valley and is about 96 m in height.
  • The Elephant Gait and the Elephant Falls are located near Upper Shillong. These are beautiful sights especially in the rainy season and are favorite picnic spots among the locals. Beyond the Elephant Falls, one can also view the Upper and Lower Elysium Falls.
  • The Beadon Falls lies about 2 km from Bara Bazaar. There is a hydroelectric powerhouse at the base of the falls. The Bishop Falls is also nearby and together they mingle and flow into the Umiam River.

Peaks

  • Shillong Peak, the highest point of Shillong, is located 5 km to the south of the city and is 1961 meters (6,433 feet) in altitude. Being the highest peak in the district, it is often surrounded with fog. The peak itself is not steep, but rather semi-circular like that of a crown placed on the flat and extensive top of the Shillong Hill. The peak is accessible via the Upper Shillong or Jowai Road.
  • The Sohpetbneng Peak is 1343 m in altitude and is regarded as sacred by the Hynfiiewtrep tribe. It is a picturesque location.
  • The Dingei Hill is situated near the Umiam stream. Two paths lead to this hill from Shillong. One is the narrow tract that leads straight to the gorge through Umiyangka village. For a height of 1,000 ft on either side of the stream, the gradient is very steep and precipitous and makes for excellent mountain climbing. The second route begins at Barapani on the GS Road, about 16 km from Shillong. During the upward journey, one is provided a captivating view of the Bhoi district, which lies 300 ft below the summit of the Dingei Hill.
  • The Dumpeep Peak is the highest in Swer and is 5100 feet above sea level. The Kyllang rock lies 78 km from Shillong. The rock is a steep bare cliff of granite, 200 m in height and rises abruptly from plain grassy downs.

Lakes

  • The Ward Lake is an important tourist site of Shillong. It is a horseshoe-shaped artificial lake lying beneath the Raj Bhavan (Governor’s Residence) and the Accountant General’s (AG) Office, with little isles and a bridge over it. The lake abounds in fish (grass carps) and feeding the fish from the bridge is a favorite pastime of the tourists. It is said that a Khasi prisoner, who requested for any kind of work to get him out of his cell, initiated its construction. The lake has a charming winding walk-a-way in the midst of rolling flowerbeds and fairyland lighting with gradually undulating grounds, hemmed in by lush greens. Boats are also available, while the cafeteria provides refreshments.
  • Seventeen kilometers before Shillong is situated Umiam or Barapani-a large lake formed after a hydroelectric dam was built across a stream. In recent years, this has become an increasingly popular place for outings and weekend visits. The Orchid Lake Resort, designed by the famous architect Charles Correa, and constructed amongst pinewood, overlooks the lake. There are facilities for water sports here: from kayaking and water skiing for the adventurous to water cycling and simple boating for the less brave. The Orchid Lake Resort, run by the Meghalaya Tourism Department, has pleasantly appointed rooms with balconies, a restaurant and bar.

Valparai, Tamil Nadu

Valparai is a newly explored tourist spot located in the Anamalai hills of Westernghats. Entering the forest and tea gardens of valparai you can enjoy the presence of many streams, dams, valleys, waterfalls, high mountains, grass lands, flora and fauna.

Valparai is different from other tourist spots unlike ooty, munnar, kodaikanal etc because of some if its unique nature. Ecotourism is given more importance than regular form of tourism. Chinnakallar in valparai records maximum rainfall next to chirapungi. Valparai is the only hill station in the world which has 12 dams and hydro electric power stations.

Aanamalai wildlife sanctuary
Aanamalai wildlife sanctuary is situated at an altitude of 1,400 meters near pollachi with a total area of 958 sq kms. The sanctuary is filled with various fauna like green pigeon, pangolin, sloth bear, panther, elephant, tiger, gaur, deer etc.

Aaliyar dam
Located at Aliyar, in the Aanamalai range, in the foot hills of valparai at a distance of 24 kms from pollachi. Aliyar dam is a famous picnic spot, the park near the dam is well maintained and pulls many tourists to Aliyar dam. The park opens at 8.30 Am and closes at 5.30 pm, with a very minimum entry charge per head.

Birla Falls
Birla falls is 2km from valparai. Situated in sholayar estate surrounded by tea fields. Watching the water fall in the mid green tea fields is a pleasant view for eyes.

Sidhi vinayagar temple
The temple is 5 kms from valparai, owned by jayshree tea industries, the temple is situated in a very beautiful garden environment, it is very near to valparai.

Congreve falls
The falls is situated in nadumalai estate, this falls is named after C.R.T Congreve, one of the early explorers of this hill.

Manompally forest:

This reserve forest truly provides the icing on the cake for Valparai. located at about 20 km from the town, this place is sure to get your jaws dropping in fascination. Graced by the manompally river(with a few crocodiles, of course), this reserve forest provides adventurous treks, a high probability to sight some of endangered species. There is a trekking shed( rest house) on the banks of manompally river which doubles up as a base camp for those bent on adventure.Prior permission from the Forest Department required.

Grass Hills :

If manompally is the icing on the cake for Valparai Grass Hills is the cherry on the top. There are no words to describe this bejeweled beauty which adorns the crown of Valparai. Talk about the most secluded, most beautiful, most enchanting and the most peaceful place on earth, talk about grass hills.This is a paradise on earth.Forming a part of Indira Gandhi National Park, Grass hills is a remnant of the unique shola grasslands found only in the higher reaches of the Western Ghats. The shola grasslands are a unique ecosystem. A host of species found here, like the Nilgiri tahr and Nilgiri Pipit, are not found anywhere in the world.The lush green meadows present there are those ones see in their romantic dreams. Patterns emerge in the unending carpet of grass a copse of shola trees resembles a mango and another, the outline of India. The fire lines drawn around them emphasise their shape. These are by far the only things man-made in Grass Hills. Nature lovers and geologists in search of ‘Ox-bow’ lakes are sure to find one too many. The door to this place is strictly opened to nature lovers only.Prior permission from the Forest Department required.

Athirapally falls:

A 80 km drive from valparai through one of the thickest evergreen forests in india simulates the canopied rainforests of Amazon and Central Africa. The conopy is so thick that any tough effort taken by sunlight to enter the forest seems clumsy. Such is the road that leads to the falls. Popularly known as ‘Punnagai Mannan falls’ or ‘the Indian Niagara’, Athirapally falls has been the backdrop for many south Indian movies. You can look at it from the top and from the bottom as well. You can take bath in the Chalakudy river too.On the way there are two other falls Charpa and Vazachal. In charpa falls the water plunges on to the road in the monsoon, so get ready to get drenched if you are visiting it in the rainy season. Vazhachal waterfalls is set in the backdrop of a lush green forest near gorges.

Nallamudi- Pooncholai(valley view):

Location: 15kms from valparai.

Nallamudi valley view can be reached thorough a gateway in the tea garden. From here you can spot an excellent view anaimudi peak, the highest peak in south india. There are few falls on the valley one of which appear as streaks. This is truly a sight to behold. The nearby tribal settlements provide ample opportunity to satisfy the explorer in you.

Monkey falls:

Location:4kms from the Azhiyar park,near the Valparai- Navamalai diversion.

One of nature’s finest and purest sources of minerals and ayurvedic formulations, these falls truly rejuvenate your body and mind.

Loams view point:

Location: 9th hairpin bend.

This gives a panoramic view of the Azhiyar dam. Consider yourself lucky if you spot endangered Nilgiri Tahr, the State animal of Tamil Nadu.

Tiger valley:

Location: Approximately 35 kms enroute Valparai.

Provides a spectacular view of Kadamparai and the upper Azhiyar projects. Wind mills situated on the plains can be a feast to the eyes, try zooming in your binocuars for a couple……

Carver marsh view point:

Location: In Kavarkal estate enroute valparai.

A statue of Sir Carver Marsh, the father of Anamalais graces this place, which is covered in mist most of the year, but when the skies are clear one can witness a breathtaking view of the Sholayar Reservoir.

Champawat, Uttarakhand

Champawat, Uttarakhand is a very famous tourist destination and was also once the capital of the Chand rulers. Champawat is thus steeped in history, and has enormous religious significance as well. Indian mythology mentions this as the place where Lord Vishnu appeared as ‘Kurmavatar’ (incarnated as a tortoise).

Champawat is a destination that attracts many pilgrims due to the sheer number of temples located in the region which are beautifully constructed and carved, and some of them date back to the time of the Chand rulers.

The Nagnath temple which is dedicated to Kranteshwar Mahadev and  Baleshwar temple in Champawat are a must visit destinations is Champawat. Baleshwar Temple, dedicated to the chief deity Lord Shiva is an important place that you must visit during your trip to the place which has a structure carved entirely out of stone.

How to Reach ?

By Air : Pant Nagar airport is the nearest domestic airport at a distance of 121 kilometres from the city of Champawat. Taxi services are easily available that connect the airport with Champawat and nearby tourist destinations.

By Rail: Tanakpur railway station is the nearest railway station to Champawat and is situated at a distance of 75 kilometres from the city. The train services connect it with various other cities in Uttarakhand

By Road : The Champawat district has well connected network of roads which link it with various other towns and cities of the state of Uttarakhand. Taxis and state owned bus services connect it with several other places such as Pithoragarh, Nainital and Udham Singh Nagar. By road, Champawat is at a distance of 155 kilometres and 130 kilometres from Delhi and Almora respectively. Bareli is 174 kilometres away from the city of Champawat.

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