Coffee, Tea, & Mountains: South India's Most Scenic Hill Stations

These hill stations have waterfalls, lush natural beauty, acres of coffee, tea and spice plantations, and are the perfect getaway from city life
Yelagiri in Tamil Nadu
Yelagiri in Tamil NaduNaresh Chandra Das/Shutterstock

India is home to numerous pretty hill stations and the south of India is no exception. Ooty, Kodaikanal, Munnar, Vagamon, Wayanad and Kotagiri are just some of the most well-known names which attract plenty of domestic and international tourists hoping to witness the natural landscape and rich heritage of these places.

We have picked some of the most scenic of South India’s hill stations which you'll want to return to again and again.


Boating in Yercaud's crystal clear waters is time well spent
Boating in Yercaud's crystal clear waters is time well spentP.V.R.M/Shutterstock

Situated in the Shevaroy Hills of the Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu, Yercaud’s name hints at the delights this hill station offers: yeri means “lake” and kaadu means “forest”. With an elevation of 1,515m, visitors will marvel at its trekking paths, boating opportunities, and plantations and orchards. Yercaud's botanical garden looks resplendent with the beauty and fragrance of colourful flowers and a diverse array of plant species. Don’t miss its famous orchidarium, which has pitcher plants, the kurinji flower, which blooms every 12 years, and the eponymous orchids.

One of the many highlights of Yercaud is the summer festival that takes place in May. It is dedicated to Lord Servarayan, the supreme god of the ranges. Its people cultivate crops like coffee, orange, jackfruit, guava, black pepper and cardamom. The Lady’s Seat and Arthur’s Seat are gorgeous viewpoints, the Kiliyur Falls are a sight to behold, and Pagoda Point in the evenings is where you can see the lights of the hill station twinkling in the gloaming.

Getting There

The closest airport is in Coimbatore. Salem Junction is the nearest railhead. There are regular bus services between Yercaud and Salem, the latter of which is connected by road to Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Bengaluru, among other major cities.


The Namdroling Monastery in Kodagu
The Namdroling Monastery in KodaguJoe Ravi/Shutterstock

Popularly known by its former name of Coorg, this hill station in Karnataka is blessed with scenic waterfalls, tall hills, majestic views and sprawling coffee plantations. Often dubbed “the Scotland of India” and home to the town of Bylakuppe, the largest Tibetan settlement in the world outside of Tibet, visitors can check out Abbey Falls, the Dubare Elephant Camp, Raja’s Seat, the vantage point of Mandalpatti, the Namdroling Monastery and Omkareshwara Temple. A tour around the town’s coffee plantations should not be missed.

Getting There

Mangaluru International is the closest airport and Mysuru Railway Station is the closest train stop. Hire a bus or taxi from Bengaluru, Ooty, Mysuru or Mangalore to Kodagu or embark on a beautiful road trip from these places.

Araku Valley

The Borra Caves are millions of years old
The Borra Caves are millions of years oldKS-Art/Shutterstock

Araku Valley is a comparatively unexplored hill station some 113km from Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. This hidden gem is located in the Eastern Ghats and is home to several tribal communities. Like most other hill stations it is well-known for its exquisite coffee, whose subtle aroma will have you craving a cuppa. Partake in adventure sports, go on a trek or swim to your heart’s content in this lush landscape. The Tribal Museum, the million-year-old Borra Caves in the equally majestic Ananthagiri Hills, the Tyda Nature Camp, the Padmapuram Gardens and the Katiki Waterfall should be the must-see spots on your Araku Valley itinerary.

Getting There

The closest train station and airport is in Vishakhapatnam. There are plenty of buses and taxis which ply the route between Vishakhapatnam and the Araku Valley.


The Sita Devi Lake is believed to have curative powers
The Sita Devi Lake is believed to have curative powersMD Taufique Raza/Shutterstock

Just 11km from the legendary hill station of Munnar lies another whose velvet lawns and exotic flora and fauna should make it onto your travel itinerary. With an elevation of 1,800m above sea level, Devikulam in Kerala has rolling hills, waterfalls, tea and spice plantations, and the mythical and wondrous Sita Devi Lake. This lake is a holy place as it is believed that Sita bathed here. The Pallivasal Waterfalls, Thoovanam Falls, the Anayirankal Dam and Mattupetty Dam are some of the sites you should visit. The area is also perfect for trout fishing.

Getting There

Aluva Railway Station is the closest railhead and Cochin International is the nearest airport. Kochi and Kottayam have buses and taxis which travel frequently to Munnar and Devikulam.


Agasthyakoodam is one of the highest peaks in the Western Ghats
Agasthyakoodam is one of the highest peaks in the Western GhatsVIJAYABHARATHI K/Shutterstock

If the residents of Thiruvananthapuram travel to Ponmudi regularly for a weekend holiday then you know you’ve stumbled onto a well-preserved gem. The hill station's mist-shrouded slopes inspire wonder and amazement, and the area has a large collection of rare flora and fauna, including mountain flowers, wild orchids and exotic butterflies. Trekking here is a special delight and there are many trails one can traverse, the most popular of which is the 18km Varayadumotta trek. Stop over at the breathtaking Kallar River on the way, which flows parallel to the road in the opposite direction. The picturesque Meenmutty Waterfalls are only a little distance ahead. The Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, the Golden Valley and Agasthyakoodam, one of the highest peaks of the Western Ghats, are some of Ponmudi’s best attractions.

Getting There

Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest airport and railway station. There are plenty of buses and cabs which travel from Thiruvananthapuram to Ponmudi.


Walking in the Yelagiri Hills
Walking in the Yelagiri HillsVeerababu Achanta/Shutterstock

Nestled in the midst of four mountains is Yelagiri in Tamil Nadu. It has a quieter and more peaceful ambience than some of its neighbouring hill stations. Originally part of the Zamindar family of Yelagiri, the hill station began to gain popularity during colonial rule. Since then it has been one of the hidden gems of South India, replete with rocky hills and natural scenic beauty. Being one of the lesser known hill-stations in Tamil Nadu, the place is rarely overcrowded.

Some of its attractions are the Jalagamparai Falls, the Punganoor Lake, whose beauty and charms means countless hours boating or picnicking on its shores, the Vainu Bappu Observatory, where you can take a guided tour, the Swamimalai Hills, its highest point, the Velavan Temple and Nilavoor Lake. Adventure sports like paragliding and rock climbing are popular with tourists.

Getting There

The nearest airport is in Salem and the nearest train station is Jolarpettai Junction. Vellore is the best place to hire a bus or taxi to Yelagiri.

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