The colonized phase of India is definitely regarded as a dark patch in the Indian history; but we cannot simply denounce the British for this. They evidently brought about development, the benefits of which we reap even today.
It was their love for comfort, which took them to the various mountain regions of the country in the North. They established entire hill stations, connected them with other parts of the country with rail and road, the like of which still remains a challenge for us to achieve. For their recreation they erected huge theaters, developed golf courses, built huge mansions, which have mostly been converted into museums or taken up as government offices today.
The colonial beauty of these hill stations still lives on. Let’s take a look at some great British hill stations in India.
Located in the Mahabharata range of the Himalayas, in the northern part of West Bengal, this hill station was often regarded as the queen of mountains by the British. Darjeeling, with its breath-taking view of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga, served as a great sanatorium for the British residing in Eastern India. While in Darjeeling, you cannot just miss out horse-riding at the mall and drinking hot chocolate at the Keventer’s!
Yet another stupefying beauty gifted to us by the British, Ooty was under the rule of the Toda dynasty before landing into the clutches of the East India Company at the end of the 18th Century. If Darjeeling was the sanatorium of the British officers residing in eastern India, Ooty was the spark of relief to the officers residing in southern India.
This is a quaint and quiet hill station located in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Horsely hills was founded by W.D Horsely, the District Collector of Cuddappah district, with whom the hill station also shares its name. This hill station is still now the summer sanatorium for the Governor of Andhra Pradesh.
The capital of Meghalaya, Shillong, is a famous hill station in the eastern part of India. In 1884, Shillong was made the civil headquarters of the Khasi and Jaintia hills, and subsequently it turned into a British settlement. According to few historians, this hill station reminded the British of their own Scotland, and hence, many term Shillong as Scotland of the East.
Located in Himachal Pradesh, Dalhousie is a very famous hill station renowned not only in India but also abroad. In 1884, when the British officials were looking for a suitable retreat for the troops and other bureaucrats, they stumbled across this calm and serene place which they eventually named Dalhousie, after Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor-General of India.
Located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar is one of the favorite weekend destinations of the people of Mumbai and the nearby cities. The hill station houses one of the few evergreen forests in India and served as the summer capital of the Bombay Province of the colonized India. Once in Mahabaleshwar, you can never miss out on the Monkey point, which gets this weird nomenclature from the natural sculptures of three monkeys engraved on huge boulders. According to locals, those three monkeys signify “Gandhiji’s teen Bandar.”
One of the darling holiday spots of Indians, Mussourie is located at an altitude of 6,170ft, in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. In 1832, Mussourie was pinned upon as the prospective terminus for the Great Survey of India; though this initiative failed soon enough, Mussourie remained as one of the favorite sanatoriums for the British residing in India.
With its fantastic view of the snow-capped mountains, glittering green valleys and the majestic Shivalik range, Mussourie is often termed as the “fairyland” by the tourists.
Like always, the best is saved for the last. Gulmarg, or the meadow of flowers in Urdu, is a beautiful hill station located in the Baramullah district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Located amidst huge pine forests and steep ales and valleys, Gulmarg is one of the most popular skiing destinations in the world. The place also has cable cars (second highest in the world), called Gondolas, which would take you to one of the highest peaks of the region—located almost near the LOC. Although no permanent residents are found in Gulmarg, there are some great lodging options for the tourists who regard staying in Gulmarg as a “worth-it” experience.