One of the main reasons I love driving to a hill station is because of hair pin bends. Sharp turns and narrow roads test a driver’s skills and they are more fun to drive than driving in a straight line. In this post, I am listing 10 hill stations I enjoy visiting, largely because of the hairpin bends leading to these hills or the fun-to-drive-aspect.
1 Kolli Hills, Near Salem: With over 72 hair pin pends, Kolli malai or Kolli hills near Namakkal, Salem in Tamil Nadu is a fun to drive destination often missed by mainstream tourists. Kolli hills is not one of the most popular in the region but I like going there for the waterfalls, jackfruits and the hair pin bends.
2 Agumbe, Karnataka: Agumbe near Shivamogga in Karnataka is one of the finest spots in Western ghats to explore fauna and flora. The evergreen forests are full of life and action post monsoon and few photography groups organize guided excursions into Agumbe. Sunset view from Agumbe is widely popular and has been featured in many Kannada movies. The ghat road that connects Agumbe to coastal Karnataka has 14 sharp hair pin bends- no big buses are allowed on these roads. Kundadri hills, about 10 kms from Agumbe offers scenic vistas. Many scenes of Malgudi Days serial is shot in this region.
3 Valparai: Valparai is about 120 kms from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu and is known for its scenic tea estates. Valparai is any day less crowded than Ooty, Kodaikanal and other popular hill stations. A stay in one of the tea estate bungalows will give you much better experience than any other hotels/home stays. Driving to Valparai involves 40 hair pin bends, while getting to enjoy scenic views of Aiyanar dam below. Places of interest around Valparai include Monkey falls, Velankannai church, Nallamudi view point, Nirar Dam and numerous other viewpoints, waterfalls and rivers. Few tea factories are also open to visitors. The popular Athirapally waterfalls in Kerala border is couple of hours of drive from Valparai
4. Drive between Madikeri and Sullya: Once a driver’s nightmare due to its poor conditions, now this road is pure bliss to drive, thanks to well paved wide roads that connect the two cities now. Drove there this June and enjoyed it thoroughly.
5 Mullayyanagiri, Chikmagalur: Mullayyanagiri is Karnataka’s highest viewpoint and the road that takes to you there is very narrow for the last few kms. It takes good amount of courage to drive a car till the parking lot of Mullayanagiri. Have driven till there some 5-6 times now, latest was in a Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, whenever I am in the region I make it a point to divert to Chikmagalur and drive up till Mullayyanagiri. Manikyadhara falls, Baba Budangiri are few other nearby attractions one should visit.
6 Yercaud: Yercaud near Salem is called Poor Man’s Ooty. It has all the typical attractions a hill station can offer- view points, lake, boating, temples and much more. Wide range of hotels and resorts to suit every budget are also available
7. Yelagiri: Yelagiri near Vellore is an ideal trekking destination- nice place to relax for a day or two in a peaceful environment.
8. McLeodgunj, Himachal Pradesh: Himachal Pradesh, while extremely scenic demands lots of patience and courage on the road- due to poorly maintained roads in most places, Formula one defying Himachal Pradesh Road transport buses and at times dangerously steep curves or sharp turns. Few years ago we drove to McLeodGunj in a Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and was bowled by the beauty of the place. Once inside the town, it takes all the skill in the book to negotiate your car on the narrow roads and heavy traffic. Most hotels will have limited to no parking and one will have to park on the edge of a cliff- slightest mistake can send the car down the valley.
9. Horsley Hills: Another lesser popular hill but totally worth a visit. Horsley hills is just about 200 kms from Bengaluru, 300 from Chennai, located off Palmaner in Chennai-Chittoor-Bengaluru highway. Horsley hills is a small place, with a small zoo, viewpoints, a pond, and some adventure activities on offer. Accommodation options though limited, are available in Horsley hills.
10. Wayanad via Bandipur forest: Wayanad is another destination I can head to any day without much of a thought. The drive there, through Bandipur from Mysore/BLR takes us through the Bandipur-Nagarahole reserve forest range. With lots of turns, with occasional animal sighting and more. Post monsoon, between September to January is usually the best time to enjoy a drive here. After Feb summer begins to kick in and trees usually dry up.
So what’s your favourite 10?