Hill stations have been popular in India since ancient times due to the presence of shrines and religious places, as well as for scenic beauty. During British rule, some of the hill stations near important cities in India got a new lease of life. The British could not tolerate the heat in India during the summer season. Hence the Government officials and civilians retreated to the hills for a vacation during summer. Some of them even today bear signs of colonial rule, and Victorian buildings, mountain railways, and malls.
Today, as modern transportation has increased, and the ability of people to afford frequent vacations, summer tourism in the hills has increased many fold. Let us look at the summer hill stations that are popular in India since the times of British rule.
Darjeeling is the most popular retreat of the Bengali people living in the plains in Kolkata, Siliguri, Asansol and other towns. Darjeeling and it’s surrounding Kurseong and Kalimpong areas developed during the British rule as the retreated from Kolkata during the heat of summer. The Darjeeling toy train, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is still popular among the locals and tourists alike, and is run by a steam engine. The route contains the Ghum railway station, the highest in the entire India. The tea gardens, the orange orchards, and shopping in the colonial mall are a must see in Darjeeling.
Shimla, the summer capital of Himachal Pradesh, is a bustling town, high up on the hills, near Delhi and Punjab towns. Since British rule, Shimla still is the most popular tourist destination near Delhi in any season. The colonial Christ Church, the ridge, the hilltops, the enchanted trails, and the Shimla Kalka railway line makes Shimla a perfect hill station. Not to forget, like the Darjeeling toy train, the Shimla Kalka train is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ooty, the hill station not far from Chennai, is an ideal summer retreat for the people of Chennai, Mysore, Bangalore and Kozhikode. Ooty is full of lakes, parks, nature reserves, and tea gardens, all of which add to the beauty of Nilgiri Hills. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Ooty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Avalanche Lake, Botanical Garden, and Doddabetta peaks are some well known tourist spots. Nearby Coonoor and Coorg are also important hill stations in that area.
This famed hill station is famous for strawberries, which are produced in this area. Mahabaleshwar is also an important pilgrimage site, being the source of the Krishna river. Being located close to Mumbai and Pune, it attracts a huge crowd in summer time. This quiet little hill station is also near major waterfalls in the area like Dhobi falls, Lingmala falls, and Vajrai falls. The Kash plateau, the flower paradise on earth, is not far away.
Shillong also attracts people from all over India, and forms a quick retreat for tourists from Guwahati, Assam. Ward’s Lake, Umiam Lake and Shillong peak, will never fail to mesmerize the tourists with stunning views. Shillong also hosts India’s cherry blossom festival in the month of November. Nearby villages like Cherrapunji and Mawlynnong are worth visiting for being the wettest and cleanest villages on Earth respectively.
Which of these hills stations is your favourite? Do let us know in the comment section below.
Written by – Himadri Paul