Some cities are known for some things while others are known for many, many things. Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana, belongs to the second category. The city means different things to different people. For a foodie, the entire city can be represented in a plate – a plate of steaming, spicy Hyderabadi biriyani. For jewelry enthusiasts, the word Hyderabad is spelled as pearls and diamonds. History buffs are besotted by the rich and intriguing past of the city, spanning from the Chalukya to the Nizam Era, while IT professionals and entertainment buffs also call Hyderabad their sweet home. What about travelers looking to experience nature in close quarters? Oh yes, the city knows the perfect recipe to please them too – hill stations overlooking the Eastern Ghats, with dense jungles, waterfalls, trekking trails, and wildlife for added flavors!
Want to put your feet up for a couple of days, enjoying fresh air and panoramic views of the hills? Fret not! Hyderabad enjoys a great location and is close to many unique hill stations. Whether you want to escape the buzz of the city, rejuvenate yourself with some adventure activities or relax in a nice, rustic destination doing absolutely nothing, you will find just the right spots here. Here, we are giving you a rundown of six gems nestled in the Eastern Ghats that are worth a trip.
1. Ananthagiri Hills (75.3 km)
Hyderabad to Ananthagiri Hills is a very popular road trip, and for many good reasons. Ananthagiri, one of the most visited hill stations in Telangana, is a land of dense jungles crisscrossed by fresh forest streams that often collude to form majestic waterfalls. The rough terrain makes this a preferred getaway, especially if you are looking to balance the chaos of Hyderabad with some primeval tranquility.
The hill station offers you a fantastic range of activities to engage in, alone or with family or friends. For starters, you can visit Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, an important spiritual landmark, from which the entire range derives its name. After admiring the details of this South Indian temple’s architecture, you can head off to the nearby Nagasamudram Lake. There are kayaks available or you can enjoy a nice stroll around the lake. There are also some trekking trails around the temple that you can explore. Prepare to be fascinated by the remnants of ancient human lives you are likely to come across in the forest of Ananthagiri Hills. From old fort ruins to ancient temples, this region’s long history is quite evident. Being one of the most accessible hill stations near Hyderabad within 100 km, Ananthagiri can be a perfect one-day trip if you do not have much time on your hands.
Location: Vikarabad, Telangana
Activities: Trekking, boating, nature Walks, photography
Must-visit Attractions: Bhavanasi Lake, Vikarabad town
2. Srisailam (215 km)
Looking for a cultural trip near Hyderabad with an added dose of hills and verdant scenery? If yes, Srisailam should be on your list. The route to Srisailam involves driving through plenty of forests, a far cry from the dusty, open Deccan landscape. Here, you will find caves and temples that give you a quick glimpse into India’s mystical past. First, head to the rugged hills to visit Ista Kameshwari Temple, an old Hindu place of worship, tucked deep in the jungle. Apart from its religious significance, the temple is also visited for its location in a scenic spot with many waterfalls and valleys. There are also many caves in this area, some of which are quite accessible to tourists. Uma Maheshwaram Temple is another fascinating hill-top shrine in the ranges above Srisailam. It is located close to many waterfalls and is surrounded by low peaks of the Eastern Ghats. Visiting a place of worship while being close to the wonders of nature – well, that’s a unique experience you won’t come by quite often. So, make the most of your trip!
Apart from the rich legacy, Srisailam is also home to many of India’s precious species. Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam sanctuary is home to tigers, leopards, various antelopes, crocodiles and dholes. A jeep safari here is recommended for everyone who wants to experience wildlife in close quarters. A large part of the hill areas near Srisailam overlaps with the Nallamala Range. The latter is more famous for its natural scenery and wildlife, compared to the cultural and religious attractions of Srisailam. Make a stop at Mallelatheertham, one of the most picturesque waterfalls near Hyderabad.
Location: Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh
Activities: Cave exploration, trekking, wildlife spotting
Must-visit Attractions: Mallikarjuna Temple, Srisailam Dam, Mallelatheertham
3. Nallamala Hills (233 km)
Chronicled so often in the stories of the famous hunter Kenneth Anderson, Nallamala Hills are a lesser-known hill destination in Andhra Pradesh. The range is flanked by the Krishna and Pennar rivers; many streams and rivulets cut across the hills, carving numerous waterfalls into the terrain. While you are here, visit the calm waters of the manmade Cumbum Lake, which dates back to the 15th century, or interact with the local tribes, whose way of life is very distinct from that in the rest of the region. A couple of thousand-meter peaks, namely Bhairani Konda and Gundla Brahmeswara are prominent geographical landmarks near Cumbum, and you can climb to these summits for nice views of the countryside. This pristine hill station is part of a larger untouched wilderness area and tales of tigers and leopards are not too far-fetched.
There are also many rock formations here that form an integral part of this unique landscape. If you are interested in natural sites, Ugra Stambham rock is worth adding to your itinerary. A visit here involves a forest trek, the perfect way to immerse yourself in these peaceful and emerald surroundings.
Location: Stretches over Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Activities: Trekking, sightseeing
Must-visit Attractions: Mahanadi Temple, Nagarjunasagar–Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Cumbum Lake
4. Horsley Hills (514 km)
Also referred to as Horsleykonda and Yenugulla Mallamma Konda, Horsley Hills has long been one of the favorite hill destinations among people from Hyderabad and nearby towns. Named after a British resident, who lived here in the 19th century, this series of hills is verdant throughout the year and provides a host of activities for travelers to engage in.
The mild weather and the picturesque setting will make you want to step out into the open and explore the hills. There are many trekking trails and forested areas that would interest nature lovers. If you are a bird watcher, then strap on those binoculars as Horsley Hills is home to a wide range of avian species. Some of the feathered citizens here include rare black eagles and yellow-throated bulbuls. Attractions in Horsley Hills include Gali Bandalu, a windswept rock formation and the Horsley Hill viewpoint, which rewards visitors with a mesmerizing panorama of the surrounding region. Those who are traveling with children would love a stop at the Horsley Hills Zoo. One of the quirkier attractions here is Kalyani, a giant eucalyptus tree that is believed to be around 150 years old. More than 40 meters tall and close to 5 meters wide, it’s hard to miss this giant looming over the countryside.
Fancy some adrenaline rush? Strap yourself to a harness and navigate the mighty rocks of Horsley Hills. Rock climbing is just one of many adventure sports that are gaining popularity here. You can also hop on an ATV and explore the off-road trails in the region. So, when life gives you a chance to create cherished memories, why say no to it?
Location: Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh
Activities: Nature walks, bird watching, photography, rock climbing, off-roading
Must-visit Attractions: Kaundinya Sanctuary, Gangotri Lake, Chennakesava Temple
5. Lambasingi (526 km)
They call Lambasingi the Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh and for the right reasons. The high altitude and frigid winter temperatures make this hill station very distinct from the rest of the state. And, just so you know, it is supposed to be the only hill station in India outside the Himalayas to experience snowfall! It is best you go to Lambasingi without a plan and just take in the picturesque landscape and pleasant weather. From apple orchards to cool brooks flowing through the farmland, the storybook setting of Lambasingi makes it an ideal choice for couples as well as families. It is also a good place to camp the night out, thanks to the cool weather and forested landscape. Revel in the star-lit night near a crackling fire, punctuated by calls of nocturnal species.
If your feet are itching to explore, you have got options! Venture deep into the misty forests and explore the many waterfalls and streams. The sunflower plantation near Lambasingi is a famous spot as it provides a dramatic setting to shutterbugs. The famous Kothapalli Waterfalls are less than 30 km from Lambasingi town – a must-visit if you are here during the monsoons. Araku Valley is very close to Lambasingi and the hill station is not even far from the coast. The nearest beach is just a two-hour drive away.
Location: Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Activities: Camping, trekking, sightseeing
Must-visit Attractions: Thajangi Reservoir
6. Araku Valley (597 km)
Araku Valley is a cultural treasure. The misty valleys and green forest slopes are home to some of the most vibrant indigenous tribes of the Eastern Ghats, and one can get a glimpse of these communities at the tribal museum. The valley is a popular location for shooting movies because of its diverse landscapes; some of the hit Tollywood movies like Happy Days, Life is Beautiful, and Katha were shot here.
Coming to the attractions here, many of them lie below the ground – Araku Valley boasts a complex network of caves, which every ardent traveler must visit at least once in their life. Step into the subterranean wonderland at Borra Caves which are more than a million years old and considered to be the deepest caves in the sub-continent. There are many stalactite and stalagmite formations, some which have assumed deep religious significance. A few kilometers away from the caves, you can witness the gushing Katiki Waterfalls flowing amidst dense forest. And trust us, quite a sight it is!
Araku Valley is also a major biodiversity hotspot. If you are a wildlife and nature enthusiast, enjoy some of the forest trails (with a guide, of course) and keep an eye out for wild animals. The coffee plantations in the valley also provide a serene backdrop for nice, early evening walks. There is even a coffee museum where you can learn more about the local industry and way of life. Imagine waking up in the morning and feeling the breeze that carries the whiff of coffee!
Location: Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Activities: History and culture trips, camping, hiking, bird watching
Must-visit Attractions: Padmapuram Botanical Gardens, Sangda Waterfalls, Chaparai Waterfalls
There are many other interesting destinations apart from these hill stations near Hyderabad within 200 km or more. This includes old forts and historical landmarks. Setting up the city as a base for exploration offers you easy and hassle-free connectivity. You can easily find hotels in Hyderabad, if you are indeed planning trips to fascinating places in the Eastern Ghats and other pockets of the region. So, all you need to do is make a plan and pack your bags.
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