2020 brought upon several curves that most of us were not prepared to handle. Adjusting to the “new normal” has been difficult as it is, and the ever-changing restrictive guidelines make it no less easy on any of us. Although most (read ‘every’) plans to take a vacation fell through, months passed on with the never-ending banter of, “How is it that this pandemic has not yet ended?”
India has been taking baby steps towards opening its gates of tourism. Although it is still not safe to go out irresponsibly, it is understandable that many of us would like some breath of fresh air and a change in environment.
Keeping that in mind alongside the current situation, we carefully chose some hill stations of India that are least explored, making it easy to have a socially distanced break. Here are 5 hill stations you can visit during Covid.
Vagamon is located in the district of Kottayam in Kerala. Once the hills of Vagamon were utilized as tea plantations by the British which were then followed by the Christian missionaries. In the present day, the hill station is encompassed with lush green meadows, aromatic tea gardens, cascading waterfalls, gateways of scenic pine forests, and small brooks. The hill station is made up of a series of three enchanting hills: the Thangal, the Murugan, Kurisumala.
The journey to reach Vagamon is an experience of its own as the trails made through the pine forests with solid rocks are carved and rimmed along the entire path. You can walk through the foggy zig-zagged trails to reach atop the hills. For adrenaline seekers, various activities like rock climbing, paragliding, and trekking are available. To add to it, the tourism of the region also has many spiritual activities planned for the ones looking to rejuvenate themselves surrounding such grandeur.
Nothing can ever go wrong with visiting God’s Own Country, Kerala. The place is filled with rustic yet scenic beauties that can calm one’s soul. While everyone else has their eyes set on the more commercialized regions like Munnar or Wayanad, hill stations like Vagamon are overlooked, thus making them offbeat.
The beauty of Vagamon has captivated many that it has garnered the title ‘Kerala’s Switzerland’ and has been listed among the 50 most attractive places to visit in India by the National Geographic Traveler. During this coronavirus outbreak, breathtaking hilly areas like Vagamon that are lesser-known among travel enthusiasts are the best to take a relaxing vacation.
Situated in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand is the unexplored hill station of Askot. The natural landscape of the entire region is filled with trees like oaks, rhododendron, and pinus, with the milieu of snow-capped Himalayan mountains, Panchachuli and Chhiplakot. With the river Kali and Nepal’s mountains running on its left and the rich hillsides of the Garkha along the frontal areas, Askot has a visually stimulating environment lying on the Indo-Nepal border.
Having pages of history filled with its name, Askot was once a state’s capital in ancient times and has an abundance of traditions of the Rajbar dynasty till date. The region is an abode for indigenous tribes. The area is potent and has copious amounts of flora and fauna. While spending your days away here at Askot, you can visit the popular Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary that has been set up to conserve the rare musk deer.
There are a few accommodations available in the area that can be booked. The offbeat hilly areas and the option to book your accommodations allow you to have the region all to yourself during your stay. This is one of the perks of visiting Askot in this time of social distancing. While everybody else chooses to visit the popular places as they want to spend their time around the Himalayan mountains during their break, you can choose the safer and less crowded hill station of Askot.
Lambasingi, Andhra Pradesh
Reluctant to visit the natural glory of northern India in this pandemic yet want to travel somewhere? Lambasingi in Andhra Pradesh is the answer. Lying in Chintapalli Mandal’s Eastern Ghats, Lambasingi is often referred to as the ‘Kashmir of Andhra Pradesh’. This is the only place in southern India that is known to have experienced “snowfall”. The temperature of the area lingers close to the freezing point and the dew freezes making it look like snow.
The hills of Lambasingi are filled with different aromas from the eucalyptus, coffee, pepper, and pine plantations. For ornithologists or bird enthusiasts, the Kondakarla Bird Sanctuary will be one of your must-visit destinations in Lambasingi. There’s plenty of avifauna here, and particularly well-known are the pale-billed flowerpecker and the purple sunbird.
With quaint valleys, gushing waterfalls, misty hills irrespective of the time of the year, and soothing reservoirs, this place is a sight to behold.
The village of Lambasingi has been only recently regarded as a hill station and thus has very few rest houses within the area itself. The tourism of the state is yet to arrange accommodations like resorts for its tourists. Most travelers who have knowledge of the hill station either choose to spend their night at the scarcely available homestays or camp in the open nature. Given how glamorously alluring the place is, in no time will the place blow all over social media soon. Lambasingi is one of the idyllic hill stations to visit during Covid.
The town of Yuksom was named the first-ever capital of Sikkim which was established in the year of 1642 CE by the first religious and temporal king, Phuntsog Namgyal. Tibet’s three monks came to select the Sikkim’s first king, which is why he named the town that translates to “meeting place of the three learned monks”. Yuksom also holds several cultural and religious significance as the first monastery of Sikkim, Dubdi Monastery, was established in the town in 1701. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava had blessed four sites, which are now considered religious and represent the plexuses of the human body.
Falling under the Geyzing subdivision in the district of West Sikkim, the northeastern state of India, Sikkim, is the abode to the Yuksom hill station. Elevated at an altitude of 1,780 meters above sea level, Yuksom lies on top of the renowned Khangchendzonga National Park. The entirety of Yuksom gives the ethereal view of the mesmerizing Mount Khangchendzonga. The town is also known to trekkers as the base camp for Mount Khangchendzonga.
The locals have put their efforts into preserving the valley of Rathong Chu, where Yuksom is located. What’s amazing is how locals promote eco-tourism in and around Yuksom and other areas of Sikkim. Since mountaineers majorly only use Yuksom as a base camp for different treks and the indigenous people of the region are highly aware and promote eco-tourism, staying at Yuksom for its own gripping beauty and significance during this pandemic is ideal.
In the district of Chikkamagaluru of the southern state of Karnataka, at an altitude of 1434 meters above sea level, lies the unexplored hill station of Kemmangundi. According to the pages of history, this hill station was sought by the King of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, as a retreat and thus the place is also referred to as the Sri Krishnarajendra Hill Station. He later bestowed this resort to the state’s government.
The name of the hill station, Kemmangundi, originates from three words of the local language, Kannada: kempu meaning red, manny meaning soil and gundi which means pit. Completely surrounded by the sierra of Baba Budan Giri, the hill station is known for its panoramic views. With its exuberant vegetation, views to idyllic valleys, descending mountain brooks, gardens of floras, and awe-inspiring views of sunsets, Kemmangundi sure is a nature lover’s paradise.
Part of the hilly region is utilized for coffee and tea plantations and other parts are covered with bamboo groves, making a forest area. Kemmangundi is recognized for its popular waterfalls and, Bhadra Tiger Reserve, and Z point. There are several trails made for hikers for adventurous activities. Among the commercialized and popular tourist destinations of southern India, places like Kemmangundi have a lot to offer in this period where we all need to socially distance ourselves. So if you’re looking to escape reality and avoid herds of tourists to enjoy a socially distanced break, count on the offbeat jewel that is Kemmangundi.
What Are The Popular Hill Stations In India?
India has many hill stations. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Kullu-Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Darjeeling, West Bengal
Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Which Is The Cheapest Hill Station In India?
It may be hard to determine the cheapest hill station in India as there are multiple factors involved that influence the budget. But some of the most affordable hill stations are:
Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh
Kasol, Himachal Pradesh
Which Is The Coldest Hill Station In India?
Dras in the Union Territory of Ladakh is the coldest hill station in India. This town is located at an altitude of over 3,300 meters with a freezing average temperature of -20°C during winters.
Can Covid-19 Spread In Hot And Humid Climates?
The Covid virus has shown itself capable to be transmitted in all areas, irrespective of climate. That’s why you shouldn’t relax on preventive measures.
What Is The Minimum Distance To Be Kept From Each Other To Avoid Covid-19?
WHO recommends keeping a minimum distance of 1 meter from others and avoid large crowds to be safe from Covid-19.
Can Covid-19 Be Transmitted Through Food?
There’s no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging.
What Are Some Ways To Prevent The Spread Of Covid-19?
Four simple precautions can greatly help in reducing the risk of getting Covid-19:
Wear A Mask: Covid spreads when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, releasing the virus particles in the air. Wearing a mask, especially the N95, can help in reducing the spread of the virus.
Wash Your Hands: Your hands touch a lot of surfaces, which may have the virus, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can lead you to get infected. To remedy that, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Maintain Safe Distance: Keeping at least 6-feet distance from others means you’re not in close contact with someone who may be infected. Combine social distancing with a mask, and you’re even safer!
Get Vaccinated: Vaccination drives have begun. So make sure that you register yourself for the shot on the Aarogya Setu app/Cowin portal. Keep in mind that getting vaccinated doesn’t make you immune to the virus, it only makes you more resistant to it. So the other three precautions mentioned above still apply!
What Precautions Should Everyone Take In A Hotel During The Covid-19 Pandemic?
Opt For A Covid-ready Hotel: Most hotel websites now explain the processes in which they’re keeping their premises sanitized. Only opt for such hotels and ensure that the safety norms are adhered to.
Wash Your Hands: Irrespective of where you are, the mask and sanitizer rule applies. Use a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content and wash your hands thoroughly.
Avoid Contact: As far as possible, opt for cashless transactions and avoid contact with common touchpoints like elevator buttons, doorknobs, faucets, etc. If you do, wash your hands before touching your face.
Dine In: Instead of eating at the hotel’s restaurant, opt to dine in as it reduces your exposure to other guests.
5 Hill Stations In India You Can Travel To During CovidVisiting Hill Stations In India During Covid