Chittoor’s Horsley Hills Touch The Clouds

The quaint hill station of Horsley Hills in Chittoor district is the perfect refuge for weekend holidayers. Pristine air, panoramic views of the surrounding hillocks and dense forests, perfect weather and tranquillity — can one ask for more? Standing at a dizzying height of 4,312 feet (1,314 meters) above sea-level, the unspoilt and tranquil environs of Horsley Hills in Chittoor district command breath-taking, panoramic views of the lush expanse of the broken hill ranges of the Southern portion of the Eastern Ghats. Located near the South Western border of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, this “Andhra Ooty”, with its rich foliage, wildlife and pleasant climate is undoubtedly one of the underrated hill stations in the country. It is a little known fact that the hills, called Archeans, are geologically some of the oldest. The idyllic hill station has temperatures that range from 5 degrees celcius to a maximum of 32 degrees celcius. And on most days, the occasional clouds that pass by you, leave you in awe. Situated at a distance of 56 kms from Madanapalle, it is well-connected to Hyderabad, Tirupathi, Bangalore and Chennai, and boasts of several tourist spots and adventure sports in the vicinity. The area is a treasure trove of deciduous flora and fauna and rich in eucalyptus, silver oak, mahogany, coffee, jacaranda, allamanda, gulmohar and flowering plants. It is also famous for red sanders and sandalwood. The dense forests are home to several wild animals and birds. Panthers, sambars, wildboars, bears, four-horned antelopes, jungle-fowls, porcupine are found in the ravines. The environs of the charming hill station is home to several species of birds. Great Indian bustard for one, is the more famous and fast-disappearing species found here. The hills are also frequented by migratory birds like the red-throated flycatcher, Montagu’s harrier, blue-headed rockthrush, ultramarine lycatcher etc. The invigorating scent of the eucalyptus trees, the soul-stirring sights of the underlying expanse, the echoing chirp of exotic birds and the tranquil aura that encompasses the hill station make it the perfect getaway for adventure-loving friends, couples and families alike.

Steeped in history
The hillocks got their name from WH Horsley, a British civil servant who served as the Collector of Cuddapah (Kadapa) between 1863-1867. In awe of the idyllic environs, he built the first building here — a summer bungalow — in 1862, that is now called ‘Forest Bungalow’. The tiles used for flooring were imported from England in 1863. Originally, the hillock was called Yenugu Mallamma Konda by locals and the name has a rather interesting folklore history associated with it. According to local folklore, it got its name from Mallamma, who was a saintly lady, raised by elephants in these hills around 300 years back. A temple in her name, exists 20 kms from Horsley Hills. Also situated 20 kms outside Horsley Hills, en route Madanapalle, are three hillocks situated in a straight line that house three Mallikarjunaswamy temples on their respective summits. The famed Rishi Valley School that was founded by Madanapalle-born philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, is located at the foot of the very hills.

Environmental Park
The Environmental Park, known as EEC centre, was built by Hyderabadi environmentalist Balijepalli Venkata Subba Rao. The lush park is a mini-ecosystem in itself, complete with trees, coffee plants, a crocodile enclosure, a mini-zoo, lake Mansarovar and a nature study centre. The study centre has a museum and also an AV room where one can watch videos on wildlife, apart from a library.

Gaali banda/Wind rock
The hillock that boasts of a cliff slope, made of a single rock that extends several thousand feet downwards, is worth a visit. One can walk down the entire hillrock, admiring the unobstructed view of the lowlying expanse. Enjoy the rejuvenating heavy winds as they blow past you.

Highview seeing point
It is the most popular spot located at the highest summit, that offers allencompassing view of the underlying ravines, valleys, broken hillocks and dense forests. The view of the endless expanse, dotted by hills and forests is in itself worth the trip to the hill station. Don’t miss the sunset from this point — it is truly a spectacle not to be missed. Kalyani tree Do visit the 148-year -old eucalyptus tree — ‘Kalyani’ — that is visible from the Kadiri-Madanapalle road, that is 70 kms away, on clear days. Planted by WH Horsley in 1859, the tree was awarded the Maha Vriksha Puraskar a few years ago.

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Lake Gangotri and Mansarovar
Gangotri is located at the entry of the hills, while Manasarovar is found next to the study centre in the Environ-mental Park. Folklore has it that both lakes never dry up.

TOURIST SPOTS World’s largest Banyan tree
Thimmamma Marrimanu banyan tree, that is located at a distance of 75 kms from Horsley Hills, was awarded the Guinness Record title of the ‘World’s biggest banyan tree’ in 1989. Spread over eight acres, the sprawling banyan tree is named after Thimmamma, a lady who jumped into the funeral pyre of her husband and transformed into the tree with her husband, according to folklore. The tree houses a temple and Thimmamma’s samadhi. The temple is very popular and is known to bestow the miracle of birth upon childless couples. The place is open from 6 am to 9 pm and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) management is all set to take over the maintenance of the temple, that is currently overlooked by the village committee.

The famed temples
Three temples atop three hillocks that are aligned in a straight line around Horsley Hills and Madanapalle are popular tourist spots in the Chittoor district. Devotees throng the temple on Maha Shivatri and full-moon nights. The Sri Akanda Malleswara Swamy Devasthanam is perched atop the Malliah Konda — the middle hill — located in Angallu near Madanapalle.

Where to stay
The most popular choice with visitors is the AP Tourism Hill Resorts that is perched atop the hills. The resorts is a comfy haven, equipped with modern-day amenities and services. Apart from cottages, rooms, the resort boasts of a swimming pool surrounded by hills, a Kerala ayurveda centre that is a unit of Santhigiri Ashram, a bar, a full-fledged restaurant, a kids play area, a conference complex and adventure sports facilities.

Adventure sports area
People can choose from a wide array of exciting activities like zorbing, rappelling and trekking that can be booked for a minimum batch of 10 participants. Burma bridge, earthquake, spider web, rope sliding, horizontal ladder are some of the high rope activities one can opt for, besides the trampoline, archery, etc. The adventure sports are open from 7 am to 6 pm and anyone above 5 years are eligible.

Swimming pool
Nestled between scenic hills, the swimming pool is open from 8 am to 6 pm. Two adults and a child staying at the resort, are entitled to one hour of swimming at no extra cost. One can also opt for fun activities like water-walking in the swimming pool.

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