Picturesque views of tea plantations, dazzling waterfalls, exotic wildlife, lush rainforests, and misty hills…sound like heaven? Well what else can you expect when we are after all talking about God’s own country! One of India’s most scenic states, not only is Kerala home to magical and enchanting backwaters, but is also home of some of the most breathtaking hills stations; so if you’re looking at escaping the summer heat or simply can’t resist the “call of the mountains” then these hill stations in Kerala are a perfect getaway!

Known for its exquisite flora & fauna, beautiful gorges and valleys, dazzling streams/falls, and beautiful views of the place … it is one of the most beautiful hill stations here! Rightly called the Kashmir of the South, Munnar,  has been voted the second best tourists destination in Asia after Tokyo in 2010! Making Munnar extra special is the Neela Kurinji flower, which blooms once in every twelve years transforming this land into a magical destination!

Not only does one find some of the finest flora and fauna here, Munnar is also home to some dazzling waterfalls such as the Atukkad Waterfalls, the Lakkam Falls and the Naimakkadu Water Falls. A great place to picnic is the Mattupetti Dam, where adults and kids alike can enjoy the boat rides and horse rides available here. The Mattupetti Indo-Swiss Farm is another must visit for it houses over 100 varieties of high-yielding cattle. For interesting views of the valley, try Echo Point, or Pothamedu View Point, while a little further away from the Echo Point the Kundala Lake is a beautiful lake amidst lush jungles. And no tour to Munnar is complete without a tour to the Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered inhabitant – the Nilgiri Tahr or the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuaryand the Salim Ali (Thattekkad) Bird Sanctuary.

Located at a distance of 13km south west of Munnar, down the Munnar-Kumily Highway, SH 19, Devikulam is a hill station of unsurpassable scenic beauty. Most known for the Sita Devi Lake, a sparkling crystal clear lake, this place is a sacred spot for Hindus for its association with Goddess Sita. The lake is also known for its immense therapeutic properties, this is because of the mineral water fountains and natural springs from which curative minerals gush forth with the water.

Like Munnar, Devikulam is also famous for its sprawling tea and spice plantations, spices grown here include pepper, clove and cardamom. Around 50 km away is the famous Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary where amongst others, the highly endangered fauna makes the excursion worthwhile.

The vista of mist-clad pinnacles of the blue-brown hills… rocky terrain clad in lush green vegetation and the wild multi-colored blossoms swaying in the breeze makes Vagamon one of the most interesting hills here! Vagamon is a place for flowering plants of various colors, untamed buffaloes, strange- looking birds and insects and huge elephants bathing and lounging in the small water bodies. Must do’s here include a trip to Kurisumala and Murugan hills, and Thangalpara, a Muslim pilgrimage site, where one can find some remarkable rock formations of different size and shapes.

Idukki (a place that derives its name from the Malayalam word Idukku meaning a narrow ravine) is another of Kerala’s most exquisite hills, where tourists are awed by the regal majesty of the peaks, dark green forests, serene lakes, and brilliant display of colors at sunset. The place is known to have about 14 peaks exceeding a height of 2000 meters from sea level making the region mountainous and rugged.

The main attraction here is the Idukki Arch Dam constructed between the Kuravan and Kuravathi hills across the Periyar River. Not only is it Asia’s biggest arch dam, but also a famed picnic spotdue to its wonderful views. Other interesting picnic spots here include the Cheruthoni Barrage, Kulamavu Dam and Malankara Dam.

While the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is a sprawling treasure trove of varied flora and fauna, and is a must visit, try the Marayoor forest, 40 kms from Munnar, where sandalwood and medicinal herbsgrow aplenty. Another favorite tourist attraction is the Kuthumkal Waterfalls, a magnificent falls surrounded by dense green foliage, and the Keezar Kuthu Falls.

Located at an astounding 3,200 feet above the level of the sea, and at a distance of 61 kilometers from Trivandrum, the beautiful Ponmudi is an ethereal experience, where one can enjoy a stroll down the fog enveloped hills, or enjoy the breathtaking glimpse of the gushing Meenmutti Waterfalls!

Though it is not home to any major tourist landmark, one can find plenty to do here! For those interested in chirping birds and colorful butterflies, try the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary spread across sprawling 53 square kilometers and also incorporates portions of Palode and Kottoor sanctuaries. Also found here is the rare species of elephants called the ‘pygmy elephants’, found only in the dense forests of Africa. Another must do here includes a trip to the Neyyar Dam known for its unique garden or engaging in wildlife viewing at the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary.

Last but not the least is  Vythiri, another mesmerizing hill resort here known for its mist- enveloped soaring peaks, spice and rubber plantations, tea and coffee gardens, evergreen rain forests withdiversified flora and fauna, spell-binding waterfalls, sparkling streams and interesting tree-top houses!

Charming tourists here, the tree houses are known for their fabulous views of the scarlet setting sun, bird’s eye view of the entire wild habitat, and the awe- inspiring views of the mist- garbed mountain peaks!

Attractions at Vythiri include a trip to the Edakkal caves in Wayanad district of Kerala, a huge crack in the rock resulted in the formation of these caves with picturesque beauty… the Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary a well- preserved part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve of Kerala.. The Chembra peak, a favorite with the trekking-buffs and last but not the least the Pookot Lake, where tourists can enjoy boating or visit the children’s park, spice emporium and fresh water aquarium.

Also standing out from other hill stations, is Anamudi, the highest peak in South India – which towers over 2695mt and is an ideal spot for campers and trekkers.

From trekking to mountain biking, boating, rappelling, paragliding, wildlife safaris and biking,  adventure seekers have every reason to be delighted by some of the activities offered by these hill stations.

While these exquisite hills are the place to unwind and relax, don’t forget to pick up some tea and spices for yourself from here. One can find several factories shops and outlets offering flavored teas which also make ideal gifts for family and friends.

A treasure trove in every way, truly a tour to Kerala’s hills is therapeutic to both the body and soul.