Hill stations are towns at a higher altitude than the nearby plains or valleys. While rulers in precolonial times also used to escape the heat and humidity of summer by venturing to higher ground, most hill stations were established during the British Raj, as the British colonists sought to live in a climate more comfortable and similar to home. The concept of the Hill Station spread beyond India to Britain's other colonies in Asia such as Burma and Malaya, and even to the colonial possessions of other Western powers, such as the French-ruled Vietnam.
The tourist season for the hill stations generally peaks during the Indian summer. However, they have a different kind of beauty and charm during winter, with many hill stations receiving healthy amounts of snow and offering activities such as skiing and snowboarding.
- 1 Araku Valley. Comparatively lesser known, Araku Valley has caves, waterfalls and a museum of tribal art to keep you entertained. The famous dish of the area is bongulo (bamboo) chicken.
- 2 Tawang. The off-the-beaten-path character of Tawang means that on the one hand, the surrounding scenery is unspoilt and the views are breaktaking but on the other, there is limited development and infrastructure to support visitors staying in the town.
- 4 Saputara. Doesn't get overwhelmed with tourists like other hill stations though it gets a healthy number of visitors.
- 6 Shimla. The capital of Himachal Pradesh.
- 7 Manali, Himachal Pradesh. Has developed into one of the adventure sports hubs in India. Skiing, paragliding, mountain biking, rafting and camping are among the popular activities here.
Jammu and Kashmir
- 8 Srinagar. The summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It is known for its stunning lakes and amazing landscape. The hill station houses a number of Mughal gardens and even a tulip garden.
- 9 Gulmarg. The winter sports capital of India, Gulmarg is one of the country's best places for skiing and snowboarding.
- 10 Chikmagalur (Chikkamagaluru). Bucks the trend of other hill stations by having a large number of coffee plantations instead of tea. Also home to many picturesque waterfalls and wildlife.
- 11 Madikeri.
- 12 Nandi Hills.
- 14 Leh. One of the highest towns of India.
- 15 Dras. Has the reputation of being the coldest inhabited locality in the country.
- 17 . One of the go-to hill stations for the residents of Mumbai, famous for its chikki (peanut brittle).
- 18 Panchgani.
- 19 Matheran. Located atop Sahyadris Mountain range. Connected by a narrow-gauge railway.
- 20 Mahabaleshwar. The summer capital of the Bombay presidency during the British period.
- 21 Ukhrul. Has the world's only habitat for the world's only terrestrial lily in Sirohi National Park. The Shirui lily (Lilium macklineae), can't be grown except as part of its own natural habitat, despite numerous attempts by scientists.
- 24 Mount Abu. The only hill station of note in the arid state of Rajasthan. With its lakes, rivers and waterfalls, Mount Abu is aptly described as an oasis in the desert.
- 25 Gangtok. Capital of Sikkim.
- 26 Yuksom (Yuksam). Yuksom serves as the starting point of the Dzongri - Goechala Trek. The 8 - 9 day trek is the most popular in Sikkim and leads to the base of the third highest mountain in the world, Kangchenjunga. Yuksom also has its share of history and is the first capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim. The stone throne on which the coronation took place in 1641 can still be seen and is a protected site under ASI.
- 28 Mussoorie.
- 29 Nainital. The town is centred upon the crescent/kidney shaped lake of which there are stunning views from the mountains from all angles.
- 30 Darjeeling. Known as the Queen of the Hills. Renowned for its prized tea and "Toy Train" steam locomotive still in operation.
- 31 Kalimpong. Kalimpong was ceded by Bhutan after it lost the Anglo-Bhutan War in 1864. The hill station was established by the British as an alternative to Darjeeling. India's highest mountain and the world's third highest, Kangchenjunga, is visible from the town.
- 32 Kurseong. Land of white orchid
Some hill stations, particularly those in the Himalayas, are prone to landslides during the monsoon season.