Exploring the hill stations of Kerala

BY Nico

Kerala, a small state situated in the southwestern region of India, is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches, and enchanting backwaters. However, the state also boasts a range of picturesque hill stations that provide a cool and refreshing retreat from the tropical climate. 

The history of Kerala’s hill stations dates back to the colonial era when British planters discovered the region’s potential for tea and spice cultivation. These areas soon became popular retreats for the British, who sought respite from the heat and humidity of the coastal plains. Over time, the hill stations evolved into bustling towns, each with its own unique cultural blend of indigenous traditions and colonial influences.

Visiting the hill stations of Kerala

Some of Kerala’s most famous hill stations are Munnar, Thekkady, Wayanad, and Vagamon. These charming towns showcase a fascinating mix of local customs and heritage, with traditional arts, crafts, and cuisine still thriving alongside remnants of British architecture and colonial-era tea estates.


Munnar, situated at an altitude of 1,600 metres, is a popular hill station in the Idukki district of Kerala. Surrounded by sprawling tea plantations, rolling hills, and dense forests, Munnar offers a picturesque escape for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The town’s colonial past is evident in the British-era bungalows and tea factories, which now serve as accommodations and tourist attractions. Visitors can explore the Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr, or hike up to the Top Station for panoramic views of the Western Ghats.


Nestled in the Cardamom Hills, Thekkady is known for its spice plantations and the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The sanctuary, centred around the Periyar Lake, offers boat safaris for spotting elephants, bison, and various bird species. The town is also a hub for eco-tourism, with opportunities for bamboo rafting, nature walks, and tribal village visits, providing an insight into the indigenous culture and lifestyle.


Wayanad, in the northern part of Kerala, is surrounded by misty hills, green forests, and ancient historical sites. The region boasts prehistoric engravings at the Edakkal Caves and the Thirunelli Temple, an ancient pilgrimage site dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Visitors can trek through the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, which forms part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, or explore the Banasura Sagar Dam, the largest earth dam in India.


A lesser-known gem, Vagamon is a quaint, serene town located in the Kottayam-Idukki border. With its rolling meadows, pine forests, and misty valleys, Vagamon offers a peaceful retreat for those seeking tranquillity. The town is also home to various religious sites, including the Kurisumala Ashram, a Christian monastery, and the Murugan Mala, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Murugan.

Visiting the hill stations

The best time to visit the hill stations of Kerala is between October and May when the weather is pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities. To reach these destinations, the nearest airports are Cochin International Airport (for Munnar, Thekkady, and Vagamon) and Calicut International Airport (for Wayanad). Accommodation options are plentiful, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts, catering to all types of travellers.

When planning your visit, allocate at least two to three days per hill station to fully explore and appreciate the natural beauty, historical sites, and cultural attractions. Visiting with a guide will give you a much deeper understanding of the region’s history, culture, and biodiversity.

While in the area do not miss out on the local cuisine. Kerala is particularly famous for its seafood, as well as its vegetarian fare. Popular dishes to try include appam (rice pancake) with vegetable stew, fish moilee (fish curry), and puttu (steamed rice cake) with kadala curry (black chickpea curry).


By Nico

Some of our travel blogs have been researched with the aid of AI. Our travel specialists manually check and edit each article and add our own flavour of Yonder expertise.


Yonder is a specialist India tour operator, including tailor-made, luxury holidays to India which can include any of the must see places discussed in this article.

Previous holidays which we’ve booked include India’s Golden Triangle and Tigers toura culture, wildlife and backwaters tour in Kerala and the hidden India Rajasthan tour. These can be great inspiration for your own itineraries.

We can also arrange luxury holidays which explore all the different aspects of India such as our Incredible India tour.

All Yonder itineraries are crafted on a tailor-made, one-off basis, so you can be sure that your holiday will be as individual as you are.