Planning your next vacation to a hill station? The state of Karnataka is teeming with scenic and iconic destinations to explore. Here’s our list of top 10 hill stations you must visit.
Karnataka is renowned for having been the centre of the subcontinent’s most powerful empires, and has a rich history that dates as far back as the prehistoric Old Stone Age. So naturally, whether it’s hills, beaches, towns, or temples, there’s a lot this state has to offer.
So, if you’re planning your next trip to the state, we’ve got your back. Whether it’s for adventure, or history, or simply a few days to unwind, here are 10 hill stations to explore in Karnataka.
1. BR Hills
The Biligiriranga Hills are famous for housing the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple and Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, the latter being home to a wide range of flora and fauna.
The hill range is considered a wildlife passage that connects the Western and Eastern ghats. Needless to say, it’s a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
Because rivers Kaveri and Kapila flow through this hill range, tourists can enjoy trekking, angling, and river rafting here. There are several viewpoints on this range that provide a stunning view of the entire region.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Mysore airport, about 84 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Mysore junction railway station, around 85 km away.
Popularly known as the ‘coffee land’ of Karnataka, Chikkamagaluru is a scenic hill town. The name translates to ‘The Town of the Younger Daughter’, and it is said that the region was given as dowry for the younger daughter of Rukmangada, the legendary chief of Sakrepatna.
A charming hill station perched at a height of 3,400 ft, Chikmagalur is a mix of rugged terrains, stunning mountain regions, and several lowlands.
It has several scenic waterfalls such as Hebbe falls, Kalhatti falls, Manikyadhara falls, and Kadambi falls. It is also located close to the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Travellers here can go trekking to the Baba Budangiri or Kemmangundi, two major hill ranges in the region.
How to reach: The nearest airport is the Mangalore airport, about 150 km away, and the nearest railway station is located at Birur, Kadur and Tarikere.
One of the closest hill stations near Bengaluru city, Anthargange is located at a height of about 1,226 metres from sea level in the Kolar district of Karnataka.
The name means ‘Inner Stream’ in Kannada, in reference to the spring that flows through the region from the middle of the mountains, whose origin is still unknown.
The hill station is blessed with lush vegetation, boulders and caves, making it an ideal destination for cave explorations and trekking. It attracts many devotees who visit the Kashi Vishweshwara Temple here.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Bangalore Airport, about 70 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Kolar railway station, around 5 km away.
Sakleshpur is another stunning hill station town in the Hassan district of Karnataka. Located in the Western Ghats along the Bangalore‑Mangalore Highway, it is noted for its pleasant climate as well as coffee, tea and spice plantations.
The hill station boasts of several historical monuments as well as mystic temples such as Ayyappa Swamy, Sri Sakleshwar Swamy, Betta Byraveshwara, Kukke Subrahmanya, and Shettihalli Rosary Church.
Sakleshpur is also heaven for trekking enthusiasts, who can explore the 52km long railway track between Sakleshpur and Kukke Subramanya road junction, and witness at least 25 waterfalls on the way.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Mangalore airport, about 132 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Sakleshpur railway station.
Kodachadri is teeming with aesthetic trekking trails, pristine waterfalls, and rivers.
Part of the mighty Western Ghats, this hill station is known for its stunning sunrise and sunset views. It also forms the backdrop for the famous pilgrimage destination of Kollur Mookambika Temple. It is home to several endangered species of animals and plants.
Kollur serves as the base for trekkers, and takes about five hours to reach the Kodachadri Peak. The hill town has several attractions like forts and waterfalls.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Mangalore airport, about 164 km away, and the nearest railway station is Kundapura railway station, around 68 km away.
Dandeli is located in the Western part of Karnataka in the Uttara Kannada district. The mountain ranges, lush landscapes, beautiful rivers, waterfalls and caves make this a perfect weekend getaway for those longing for a break from the city.
It also has several dams and temples like Dandelappa, Sri Mallikarjuna, and Ulavi. The hill station also houses a wildlife sanctuary.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Hubli airport, about 67 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Dharwad railway station, around 57 km away.
An enchanting hill station located in the Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, Sirsi is known for attracting wildlife and photography enthusiasts.
If you need a change of scenery far away from concrete jungles, then Sirsi is ideal for you, for it offers a mesmerising experience with several rare wildlife species like slender loris, dhole, and bonnet macaque, along with a plethora of birds, insects and reptiles.
The hill station has pleasant weather almost all year round, and boasts of many temples and churches. The forests and waterfalls here are worth exploring, where activities like trekking and camping are also available. Travellers can also explore other adventure sports like rafting, paragliding and boat rides.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Hubli airport, about 113 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Gokarna railway station, around 73 km away.
This small village, perched at an altitude of about 826 metres, is situated between the Shimoga and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. Famed for being the setting of R K Narayan’s Malgudi Days, Agumbe has a lot to offer as a hill station.
One of the highest peaks of the Western Ghats, Agumbe is filled with verdant mountain ranges, picturesque valleys, and water streams that would make anyone fall in love instantly.
Must-see waterfalls here include the Onaki Abbi, Barkana and Jogigundi. Those who wish to trek can go for different trails like Narasimha Parvatha, a trek to Nisha Gundi, Barkana Falls or an upstream trek from Onaki Abbi.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Mangalore airport, about 100 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Udupi railway station, around 55 km away.
Kemmanagundi, also known as KR hills, is a popular hill station in the Chikmagalur district of Karnataka.
The name translates to ‘a place with red soil’, for which the region is known. Once a summer retreat of Maharaja Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV, the 24th Maharaja of Mysore, the town is lined with mountains and hillocks, ornamental gardens, valleys, waterfalls and more.
Visit the enchanting falls of Shanti, Hebbe, or Kalhatti here. There is also a vantage point — Z point — at a height of around 1,500 metres above sea level, which offers stunning views of the Western Ghats, especially during sunrise and sunset. It is a trek of around 3 km to reach.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Mangalore airport, about 80 km away, and the nearest railway station is the Birur junction railway station, around 34 km away.
Among the lesser-known hill stations in Karnataka, Kundadri is a hill range in the Agumbe forest range in Shimoga district.
At an altitude of 2,910 feet, the hill ranges here take one on an exciting experience of discovering new trails on the way. It is also known for housing an ancient Jain temple and is believed to have given shelter to Acharya Kundakunda, the greatest Digambar Jain monk.
Apart from being a religious site, this hill is noted as a perfect trekking destination. The Kundadri trek route would take one around streams to dense forests, offering an unforgettable experience.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Mangalore airport, about 110 km away, and the nearest railway station is Shimoga railway station, around 96 km away.
Edited by Divya Sethu