Hidden and little known hill stations are the stuff of fantasies. They combine the joy of discovery with the appeal of having something special all to yourself.
A hideout located 15 kilometres away from the tourist-magnet Nainital, Pangot is a small village in Uttarakhand. Travel to this sleepy hamlet if you’re looking for solitude, serenity, and of course, birds. Keep a pair of binoculars ready at all times and don’t miss the sightings of Khalij pheasants, lammergeier, koklas, and woodpeckers. Other than gazing down at the valley with a cup of tea in your hand and listening to murmuring of nature, you can go for a three-day trek to Corbett National Park. A less strenuous walk is to Cheena or Naina Peak, the highest peak in Nainital. Stay: Jungle Lore Birding Lodge
An off-beaten path will take you to this charming hill station in the Amravati district of Maharashtra. Situated at an altitude of 1,118 metres above sea level, Chikhaldara is a party to the ‘good trumps over evil’ moral, since this is where Bhima killed the evil Keechaka. This only coffee-growing area of Maharashtra invites visitors to explore its bountiful wildlife— panthers, sloth bears, and wild boars are sighted here. Moreover, the Melghat Tiger Project, which has 82 tigers, is also located nearby Observe the verdant valley from Devi Point, Prospect Point, and Hurricane Point. At a distance of one-and-a-half kilometre is Bhimakund, the waterfall where Bhima is believed to have taken a bath after his win. Other points of attraction include the botanical gardens, the Tribal Museum, and Gavilgad Fort. Stay: Satpura Retreat
There are two things that Champawat is famous for—it’s religious significance and historic temples. According to Hindu mythology, this small town is where the Pandavas spent their 12 years of exile. The legend also has it that Lord Vishnu made his appearance here as Kurmavtar (his turtle incarnation). Coming to its recent past, Champawat was the capital of the Chand Dynasty. The stone-carved Baleshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is their ‘We Were Here’ sign. Also worth a visit are the hilltop Kranteshwar Mahadev, the historic town of Lohaghat (14 kilometres from Champawat), and Ek Hathiya Ka Naula, located 5 kilometres away. Stay: Hotel Cedar Valley
Hmuifang Tlang, Mizoram
This place is just a short drive away from Aizawl. A picnic at the mighty Hmuifang Mountain is something few locals can say no to. Carpeted with verdant forests, the majestic peaks of Hmuifang Tlang make for an ideal trekking landscape. For an insight into the lives of locals, you can visit nearby villages and get a taste of their culture by attending the harvest festival of Thalfavang Kut in November. Stay: Hmuifang Tourist Resort
Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh
Untouched, unspoilt, secluded— Chitkul is one of the most isolated hill stations in India with a population of no more than 600 people. It’s quiet enough to hear your own heartbeat. Don’t be surprised to see a sign of ‘Hindustan Ka Aakhree Dhaba’ (India’s last Dhaba) because it is, in fact, true. Located on the Indo-Tibetan border, Chitkul is India’s last inhabited village. A tiny, hardly visible dot on India’s map, there is not much to see here apart from the Buddhist monastery, the flour mill, and the Baspa river. Should you decide to visit this hill station to see snowcapped mountains in the chilly winter season, you’ll need to find lodgings in Sangla Valley. Stay: Banjara Camp Resorts and Kinner Camps