Looking for offbeat hill stations? Here are 6 of the best in Andhra
What would you travel to South India for? “Temples!” might be your first answer. If we ask you to think beyond history and architecture, you may think beaches. But what about its hills and forests? The south does not always attract mountain-lovers because they cannot think beyond the mighty Himalayas of the north. But the south does have its share of quaint hill stations with their lush greenery and picturesque lakes.
When we think of southern hill stations, Tamil Nadu’s Ooty and Kerala’s Munnar are usually on top of every list. The two southernmost states have the lion’s share of the popular hill stations in South India, with Karnataka coming third with the stunning Coorg. But what about Andhra Pradesh? Not many know about the beautiful hill stations in Andhra Pradesh, barring, perhaps, Araku Valley.
So, here is a list of the most beautiful hill stations in Andhra Pradesh. Do keep these in mind when you book tickets for your next vacay.
1. Araku Valley
Araku Valley is no secret to the seasoned traveller. Most tourists club it with Vizag because it is only 120 km from the seaside city, and its green hills can be a double treat for sore eyes within a few hours of the azure of the Bay of Bengal.
One of the best ways to travel to Araku Valley is by train. As they say, the journey can be more important than the destination. The steep hillsides, tunnels, streams, and waterfalls will make your journey memorable. However, a road trip is not so bad either, if you enjoy roller-coaster rides around sharp bends amid the finest sceneries nature has to offer.
Araku lies at an altitude of about 3000 feet in the densely forested Eastern Ghats in the north-eastern part of Andhra Pradesh. It is often called the “Ooty of Andhra Pradesh.” Apart from natural beauty, you can look forward to some aromatic Deccan coffee (along with the scenic plantations) and rich tribal culture. Adventure junkies can look forward to some exhilarating hikes.
Don’t miss the tribal dance known as “dhimsa” and a visit to the tribal museum. You can get to know about tribal life from their handicrafts and artifacts. Other sites to explore are the famous Borra caves, Tyda, Damku ViewPoint, Katiki and Sangda waterfalls, and Padmapuram Botanical Gardens.
How to reach: By train or car from Vizag
Best time to visit: October to March
Now, let’s get to the lesser known hill stations of Andhra Pradesh. Lambasingi or Lammasingi is a small, romantic village in Visakhapatnam district and great for travellers looking for solitude. It’s a favourite of honeymooners, too.
You may be surprised to know that Lambasingi records minus temperatures in winter! That is one of the reasons it’s called the “Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh”—the other reasons being the gorgeous landscapes, flora, and fauna. In summer, Lambasingi is one of the best places to be in Andhra Pradesh because it is possibly the coolest.
Situation at an altitude of more than 3000 feet above sea level, Lambasingi is only about a three hours’ drive (92 km) from Araku. So, you can easily hop off to Lambasingi from Araku Valley itself. Or, you can go straight from Vizag. While there, do not miss the Kothapally waterfalls and Hope Island.
How to reach: Vizag (100 km) is the nearest city and you can take a bus or private car from the beach city.
Best time to visit: November to January; April to June
3. Nallamala Hills
Another relatively lesser known hill destination in Andhra Pradesh is Nallamala Hills. This nature-lovers’ delight in the Eastern Ghats, with its rocky terrain and dense forests, is spread across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In fact, Nallamala Hills is the largest hill station in Andhra Pradesh, covering five districts.
At an altitude of 3,608 feet, Nallamala Hills offer pristine rivers, dense forests, pristine valleys, scenic orchards, and much more. Can flora and fauna be elusive in such a location? If you are the adventurous type and are tired of the popular hill stations teeming with tourists, give Nallamala a thought. There are several home stays and lodges to put up at.
Don’t skip Srisailam dam in Nallamala. There is a temple nearby too. And, look for the beautiful sunflower fields in Cumbum. It also houses one of the oldest man-made lakes, dating back to the 15th century. You can enjoy tribal culture as well, and there is plenty more to explore. Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Sanctuary is another interesting place to visit.
How to reach: Nallamala is 232 km from Hyderabad
Best time to visit: March to May; September to November
4. Horsley Hills
Horsley Hills or Horsleykonda is a small hamlet nestled amid a series of mountains and valleys. Located at an altitude of 4,100 feet, it is covered with dense vegetation, rich in flora and fauna, and home to the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary. Its wide variety of flora includes gulmohar (flame tree), allamanda, amla (Indian gooseberry), eucalyptus, and sandalwood.
Horsleykonda was named after WD Horsley, a former collector of Kadapa district. The natural trails around the hills can make for some memorable hikes. In fact, hiking would be a great way to experience the true beauty of the hill station. There are also rappelling and zorbing facilities.
Apart from Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, you can pay a visit to Mallamma temple and Tirupati if you wish to seek some divine blessings.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Bangalore (160 km), while the nearest railway station is Madanapalle Road Jn. (45 km).
Best time to visit: April to June; September to November
This small town in Chittoor district is one of the best kept secrets of Andhra Pradesh. Nagalapuram or Nagala Hills is locally known for its waterfalls, hiking trails, forests, and temples. Its verdant hills are the stuff of dreams of nature-lovers and adventure-seekers. You can also camp on the forested hilltop.
If you love to look for offbeat destinations, look no farther than Nagalapuram. You can spend some time in peace with nature—and with yourself. Don’t miss Nagalapuram, Kailasakona, and Ubbalamadugu falls. For the religious, Vedanarayana Swamy temple and Sri Pallikondeswara Swamy temple are must-visits.
How to reach: Tirupati is the nearest airport and railway station (50 km).
Best time to visit: October to March
Have you heard of Maredumilli village in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district? It’s highly likely you shook your head just now. It has not yet attracted much attention as a tourist spot, but those who know visit it to rejuvenate their bodies and souls.
With its rich biodiversity, streams, and semi-evergreen forests, the Maredumilli forests can be a haven for travellers and thrill-seekers alike. The local tribal communities manage an eco-tourism project and there are three trek routes of varying lengths, ranging from 2km to 10 km.
If mythology fascinates you, the jungle star campsite next to the Valamuru river overlooks the Vali-Sugriva Konda, which is believed to be the brothers’ battleground in the Ramayana. Some of the must-visit sites include Jalatharangini, Amruthadhara, and Rampa falls, Sokuleru Vagu, and Manyam Viewpoint. The Abhayaranya Forest Rest House would be a great place to stay.
How to reach: The nearest airport and railway stations are Rajahmundry. You can reach Maredumilli by bus, too.
Best time to visit: October to March