With their gigantic size yet delicate beauty and tranquillity, mountains and hills leave us in awe. They remind us of the invincible nature and the power it has to transcend us in a world full of peace away from the monotony and gloom of life.
Here I bring you the unnoticed hill stations and valleys of India, which are breathtaking charmers. These hill stations are obscure yet strikingly enchanting vacation spots of Incredible India. So if you are a mountain-lover or are searching for unconventional hilly tourist destinations, this list is an essential read for you.
Nubra Valley, Jammu and Kashmir
Situated in the northernmost part of Jammu and Kashmir, sandwiched between Kashmir and Tibet, Nubra valley is known for orchards, Bactrian camels, Buddhist monasteries, and picturesque beauty. Nubra is known as the Orchard of Ladakh or Ldumra, meaning the valley of flowers. Nubra valley is all green in summer but adorns a white gown of snow in winter, making it look like the moon; hence it is known as Moon-land. For reaching Nubra, one must cross the world’s highest motorable pass, Khardung La, with rivers Nubra and Shyok flowing in a criss-cross fashion on the plains of Nubra valley. Buddhist monasteries at Ensa, Samstemling, Diskit and Hunder are major tourist attractions. Rogan Josh, Rista Goshtaba, and Marchwangan Korma are some of the most popular recipes of this valley. However, apple and apricot jams are unique preparations of this place. The best time to visit Nubra Valley is from June to September.
Waichin Valley, Himachal Pradesh
Known as the Magic Valley of India, Waichin is situated in Himachal Pradesh. Skip the crowd of Shimla and rejuvenate yourself in the quietude of the woods in Waichin. A steep ascend from Malana village amidst the thick woods, and the lofty mountain terrain might make your legs complain, but the view from the top is paradise; it will transcend you to a world devoid of any pains and sorrow and just omnipresent peace. You can walk barefoot in the velvety meadow, which is no less than the meadow you must have seen in the movie ‘Twilight ‘. Along with trekking, one can enjoy indulging in activities like camping, birding, and photography. Although there are limited food options available here because of its isolated location and extreme weather conditions, rajma rice is one of the most favourite dishes. There are no cafes, restaurants, or motels around, but you can access the mountain travellers’ most preferred food snack – Maggi with chai (Tea). The best time to visit is around August, till the end of monsoons in November, which is the onset of winters with clear visibility levels.
Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
When the names of hill stations in India pop up, Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh is a lesser-known beauty. At an altitude of 5,500 metres above sea level, Ziro serves to satisfy your appetite for adventure and nature. Terraced rice fields, bamboo forests, and trails of blue and green pines make this valley one of the most photogenic spots if you are lucky enough to discover this hidden beauty. Ziro also inhabits the oldest living north-eastern tribe known as Apatani, famous for their culture, agricultural practices, fishing techniques, and tattooed faces with women wearing massive nose rings. The Ziro Music Festival, which started in 2012, has undoubtedly attracted tourists from across the globe, yet Ziro remains in the veil of anonymity. Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Meghna Cave Temple, Kile Pakho, and Midey will surely be your points of interest at Ziro. Ziro cuisine primarily uses fresh spices instead of dried ones, with pika pila, meat, and apong being the native dishes. The best time to visit Ziro is between March to October.
When it comes to Assam, Haflong is one such mountain paradise covered with clouds and two lakh varieties of flowers and trees. The most visited tourist spot in Haflong is Haflong Lake, with trekking, boating, and paragliding sports. Haflong is just a drive away from Jatinga, famous for blue orchids and migratory birds, and Maibong, which is renowned for ancient architectural history. Haflong is famous for the Dimasa cuisine’s special Judima or rice-wine and pork with bamboo shoots mixed with local herbs, spices, garlic, and chillies. The best time to visit Haflong is from October to April.
You must have visited Coorg, but have you heard of Madikeri? Yes, in the district of Coorg, Karnataka, this hill station welcomes you with lush green terrains and the aroma of coffee, cardamom, and black pepper. Madikeri is an unnoticed hill station with a lesser crowd, a pollution-free environment, solitude, and calmness. Raja’s seat is a spot that offers you an unforgettable sunset. Saint Mark’s Church, Omkareshwara Temple, and Madikeri Fort are not to be missed when you plan your visit to this heavenly place. Owing to its natural beauty and exquisite landscapes, it has earned the sobriquet of Kashmir of the South or Scotland of India. Madikeri offers you Kodava cuisine with staple dishes like pandi curry made with pork, thambuttu, noolputtu (rice noodles), and payasam. Although Madikeri is pleasant throughout the year, the misty weather of the town can be enjoyed between November and February.
Are you fond of capturing dramatic sunrises and tea gardens? Ponmudi in Kerala is located in the Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) district, waiting to hold you captive with its crystal-clear water springs of the river Kallar. Ponmudi’s ultimate tourist attraction is the deer park, Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary, and Palode botanical garden. However, most people like to spend lazing around the hill station and enjoying the tranquillity of the place. For all the trekkers, Ponmudi offers breathtaking trek trails, namely Varayattumotta, The Golden Peak, Braemoor, Bona falls, Vazhvanthol Falls, and Kalakad Falls. Meenmutty Falls in Ponmudi, not to be confused with the one in Wayanad with the same name, is just a drive away and serves as an excellent vacation spot. The best time to pay a visit to this serenity is between October and April. You must indulge in the local cuisine of Ponmudi, but the richness lies in the tribal dishes made from fish, pepper, a local crop naduvan cooked by a technique called basket-cooking.
Nature and its beauty cannot be restricted to such lists. Although I have enlisted these splendid spots in the lap of nature, many are yet to be discovered. Go ahead and let us know which one you think is a lesser-known sublime mountainous magnificence!