Also known as the ‘Great Escarpment of India’, the Western Ghats were created by the Britishers during their rule in India. It is sometimes therefore known as ‘little England’ since the British (unsuccessfully though!) wanted to create fond memories of their homeland here in India! It is regarded as a UNESCO world heritage site and is also one of the eight hottest bio-diversity hotspots in the world. It is a mountain range which stretches for 1600km from Gujarat to Kanyakumari. The Western Ghats are home to the most beautiful hill stations in India. Here are few of the most important ones:
1. Mahabaleshwar Mahabaleshwar
is the most beautiful and most popular hill station in Western India!
It is considered to have the most breathtaking views at 1,372 meters above sea-level.
Panchgani is actually the name given to a cluster of five villages! It escapes heavy rainfall due to its position on the lee side of the Ghats.
Being cool and habitable throughout the year it was well-suited for the British!
Dense forest and undergrowth cover the topmost point of Matheran. The green shade on top dissipates the summer heat even during the hottest months and hence walking is quite pleasurable!
But avoid the monsoons; it’s a downpour of more than 200 inches!
4. Purandar Hill
Purandhar Hill or Purandhar Fort is actually an old fort which once belonged to the grandfather of Shivaji.
The British overtook the fort in the year 1818 and subsequently it became the European troops of Poona Division of Western Command’s official sanatorium.
Easy access from Mumbai and Pune, Lonavala stands on the Great Indian Peninsular railway line. It is host to a rich variety of trees! Khandala, nearby, again offers a great vantage point for some spectacular views of natural beauty.
The rainy season will offer you a beautiful waterfall with one of its two cataracts having a drop of 300feet!
Silent and peaceful, Amboli
is a small settlement which is 2300ft up on the edge of the Ghats. It boasts of a pleasing climate and excellent views. It has a dense jungle and is home to many animals!
You will miss the beautiful view of the Konkan coastal line during the monsoons because of heavy rainfall!
7. Kemmanagundi Kemmanagundi
is situated in the Bababudangiri range. It was said to be a favorite summer camp of the Wodevar king Krishnaraja Wodevar IV!
At an elevation of 1,434 metres it has exquisitely laid out decorated gardens and has a full view of mountains and valleys!
At an elevation of 1,220 metres, Madikeri
is situated in the Pushpagiri range of the Ghats in Kodagu. Interestingly, it wasn’t actually built as a hill-station but was the rendezvous point for coffee planters from the neighboring estates!
The forests have a captivating feel with long stretches of rosewood and sandalwood trees, coffee bushes and orange trees to name a few!
The most popular and most preferred hill-station in South India is Ootacamund
or Ooty! It is situated in the junction of the Eastern and the Western Ghats and stands at 2,240 metres in the Nilgiris.
It is also famous for the production of tea, coffee and chinchona (used for making quinine).
10. Coonoor Coonoor
is unique in being situated at the principle pass from the plain land by presenting astonishingly beautiful road trips! The sides are bordered with hedges of rose, fuschia and hellitrop and are open to a fine view of the adjoining valleys!
It is the second largest station in the Nilgiris, at 1,858 metres above sea level and also lies on the eastern side of the Dodabetta range.
Wellington, named after the Duke in 1854, is prone to temperate climate; thanks to its position at eleven degrees from the Equator!
It is covered with rich soil which is home to a variety of fruits and vegetables having quite a rapid growth!
12. Kotagiri Kotagiri
was founded in the year 1830 and is suspended among wooden slopes of the Blue Mountains or the Nilgiris which overlooks fertile valleys and ravines.
It has a warm climate as compared to Ooty! Not to worry about rains, as it is not open to the south-west monsoons!
At an elevation of 2000 meters, Kodaikanal
is situated on the upper layer of the Palni Hills. Due to its position Kodaikanal is sheltered from heavy monsoons throughout the year which usually drains nearby ranges!
It is accustomed to light rainfall all through the year which spares it from suffering dry spells and also lends a pleasing climate.
Alwaye may have been the very first hill station to be built in India, but the exact time of the arrival of the Portuguese is unknown.
It is best suited for swimming in the river Periyar at just 21 km away from Ernakulam! It has a huge trade in fish, grain and cattle.
Munnar is a small town at 1,652 metres, surrounded by tea estates and the Anaimalai Hills. Standing at the confluence of three rivers, it is a densely forested area where access is recent since it was known to be the dwelling place of tribals called Madhuvans.
P.S. – Munnar boasts of a beautiful and forlorn road which links it with Kodaikanal!
Ponmudi is a hill station with a spectacular view of the ocean and is located among huge tea plantations in the centre of foggy mountain tops.
At 6,201 ft above sea level, it is situated on the fringes of the Western Ghats near Agasthyakoodam.
Courtallam is often referred to as the “Spa of the South”. It became a spa town due to the warm water available from the waterfalls! There are six waterfalls spread over an area of 10 sq. km.!
The summer monsoons of late May cool Courtallam which is only 1,450 ft above sea level!