One of the things most people absolutely do not like about the city of Chennai is its hot and humid climate. The heat which envelopes the city all year round intensifies during summers. But, where there is a problem, lies a solution not far beyond. Chennai too offers respite from its weather woes in the arms of the hill stations nearby that are sought after by locals as well as tourists. These hill stations brim with natural beauty and some of these are so close to the city that they have become a popular weekend getaway destination for the people of Chennai. Satiate your wanderlust and get a break from the scorching heat at one of these hill stations near Chennai that will mesmerize you with their landscape. So, here they are…
Nagalapuram Waterfalls (91.3 km)
Nagalapuram is one of the most popular trekking sites and hill stations near Chennai within 100 km, owing to its pleasant weather. The place is also among preferred weekend getaways around Chennai that can be easily driven to. It takes a full day to complete the 12-km trek (two ways), with one way trek taking about two to three hours. You can either camp at the trek site or can head back to the city for a night stay at hotels in Chennai. The trek trail literally keeps you on your toes with its slippery and rocky terrain. Pristine beauty, combined with the adventurous trekking experience, makes a trip to Nagalapuram Falls fabulous. The waterfall cascades into a large pool with crystal-clear water, offering a good swim if you are up for it. If you plan to go hiking or trekking in the forests of Nagalpuram, it is advisable to hire a local guide for safety and navigation ease.
How to Reach: Drive or take a taxi along National Highway 16 and Tirupati Road
Best Time to Visit: October to March
Not to be Missed Experiences: Visit to Sri Vedanarayana Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, hike
Yelagiri (230 km)
Yelagiri is one of the best hill stations near Chennai, majorly for its breathtaking natural beauty. The serene lakes, picturesque green valleys, high hills and rose gardens that are a visual delight make it the perfect hill station near Chennai within 300 km to spend some time at with your partner on a romantic escapade. But, if you are one looking for an adrenaline rush, even then the place doesn’t disappoint you. Paragliding is one of the most popular adventure sports pulling people to Yelagiri. Get a bird’s eye view of the valleys, while you catch your reflection in the water of the lakes below. Once Mother Earth beckons you back, indulge in some hiking on Yelagiri hills. You will come back from the place with wonderful memories in your heart and the panorama in your eyes.
How to Reach: You can take a bus ride from Chennai to Yelagiri. The nearest railhead is Jolarpettai Junction
Best Time to Visit: September to March
Not to be Missed Experiences: Boat ride on Lake Punganoor, visit to Vainu Bappu Observatory, hiking, paragliding
Horsley Hills (263 km)
WD Horsley, a British collector, was the one who gave this hill station its name. These clusters of hills in the Eastern Ghats inspired Horsley enough with their beauty to make it his residence and retreat. Such is the aura of the place that it makes you fall in love with it instantly. If you are traveling in a large group nearing 20, you can also make a prior reservation for zorbing, which is a fun activity offered here. The drive to Horsley Hills is quite scenic in itself, as the road is lined with thick forest on both sides. You can spot an occasional sambar and other wild animals that venture out.
How to Reach: Horsley also has a good train and bus connectivity with Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Tirupati, Chittoor, and Guntakal
Best Time to Visit: November to May
Not to be Missed Experiences: Visit to Lake Gangotri, Gali Banda, Viewpoints, Gali Banda, Horsley Hills Museum and Environmental Park, zorbing
Yercaud (343 km)
The Shevaroys Range of the Eastern Ghats is home to this storehouse of natural beauty, known as Yercaud. An abundance of wildlife amid the dense thickets in the forest are no less than a paradise for a wildlife enthusiast. Squirrels, rabbits, hares, foxes, bison, mongoose, snakes, deer, and several varieties of birds like bulbuls, partridges, sparrows and kites, reside in this forest. There is a whiff of coffee mixed with the tanginess of orange in the air, further enhancing the experience. The stunning Yercaud Lake with its swan-shaped boats provides travelers with an added reason to venture here.
How To Reach: The nearest train station is in Salem, 15 km from Yercaud. You can then easily take a cab or bus from the railhead
Best Time to Visit: October to June
Not to be Missed Experiences: Exploring the 30-feet high Kiliyur Waterfall and Bear’s Cave, drive on 32 Loop Road, birding
Kolli Hills (361 km)
Still an untapped locale, the hill station of Kolli Hills has a pristine landscape, marked with waterfalls and hills, straining to kiss the low lying clouds hanging above. Coffee and tea plantations abound in the area like most hill stations near Chennai. The place has something to offer to every kind of tourist, with the scenery touching the hearts of nature lovers and the hills calling out to trekkers. You can ever roll up yoga mat and practice some Kundalini yoga accompanied by the chirping of birds. A trip to Siddhar Caves, which were home to sages practicing medicines, is also a must. The medicinal plants near the cave bear a testimony to this legend.
How to Reach: The nearest railway station is Salem which is connected to Chennai.
Best Time to Visit: February to December
Not to be Missed Experiences: Visit to Arapaleeswarar Temple, trekking to Agaya Gangai Falls, caving at Siddhar Caves
Meghamalai (551 km)
Waterfalls, tea estates, salubrious surroundings, and all the peace and quiet that you need to rejuvenate yourself…this is Meghamalai, popularly known as High Wavy Mountains. Hills covered in lush green foliage, with tea plantations wedged in their troughs, offer the scene you would normally see in touristy coffee table books. Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary has wildlife, diverse enough to drain all the battery and storage of your DSLR. Nilgiri langur, bonnet macaques, sloth Bears, smooth-coated otter, grey junglefowl, porcupines, barking deer and flying squirrels are just a few of the exotic wild animals here.
How to Reach: Driving down from Chennai takes approximately 10 hours. The nearest railway station is Madurai and from there you can take a cab to Meghamalai.
Best Time to Visit: October to May
Not to Miss Experiences: Shopping for spices like cardamom, peppercorns, and cinnamon barks, wildlife tours, nature walks, photography
Valparai (603 km)
A little far away from Chennai is Valparai, nestled in the Annamalai Range in the Western Ghats. The forests of Western Ghats are home to several species of animals, making it a haven for the wildlife watchers. Chinnakallar Falls make for a good day’s visit to the home of pangolins and sloth bears. Coming to the waterfall itself is a fun activity for children and adults alike as they can take a refreshing dip in its plunge pool and enjoy a picnic in the area. A rocky trekking trail can take you as high as eight hundred meters from the ground.
How to Reach: The nearest railway stations are Pollachi and Coimbatore
Best Time to Visit: May to September
Not to Miss Experiences: Visit to Aliyar Dam, Chinnakallar Falls, Monkey Falls, Loam’s View Point and Grass Hill, hiking, picnics
So, head to any of these hilly destinations near the metropolis, even on a weekend, to enjoy nature’s gift to mankind, which is still untainted by commercialization (fingers crossed).