Horsley Hills
Horsley Hills

The charm of this hill station is that it is so tiny and secluded. Horsley Hills is an increasingly popular destination for travellers who want a place with little to do but idling around and watching the views and maybe, trek a little. Located near Madanapalle in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh, this hill station is named after a British collector of Kadapa – William Horsley. 

Horsley from 1863-67 had built his home here during the 1870s. Actually, the hills have another name – Yenugu Mallamma Konda. The story goes that there lived here, a brave tribal girl named Mallamma who was brought up by elephants called Yenugulu in Telugu (hence the name Yenugu). She grew up to become a mystic with spiritual powers and was worshipped by the locals. There is a small temple dedicated to her made by the Chenchu tribe, natives of this area, more precisely the Nallamalla Hills which adjoin the Horsley Hills. 

There is not really much to do around here – everything you want to see is within a two or two-and-a-half km radius. What draws visitors are other things. The views are great and so is the weather, with the summit being around 1,290 m above sea level is perfect for those wanting to escape urban pollution. The thick foliage, the cool breezes, the fairly easy terrain and the hilltop views all offer plenty of opportunities for enjoyable walks, hikes, photography and trekking. A recent addition is an adventure centre, which arranges rappelling, zorbing and guided treks. 

Birdsong is everywhere! Whether you are driving up to Horsley Hills, wandering around this hill station or just relaxing in your cottage, you will be serenaded by these winged songsters. The highlight here is the Galibanda (meaning the Windy Rock in Telugu), where you can take in a panoramic view of the countryside. It is also the perfect place to relax with a book. Or a cup of tea and conversation. 

Just before you reach Horsley Hills, there is a pond called, Gangotri, and beside it a sign signifying the presence of wildlife. Perhaps, the area did house wildlife at one time. However, given the increasing numbers of weekend vacationers and conference-bound delegates that the hill station sees nowadays – the wildlife sighting is now rare so don't be disappointed if the board seems to mean nothing. 

However, there are many species of birds here and if you are lucky enough to be driving up when there is no other vehicle on the road and it is an early morning you will see plenty of them. Another place worth seeing is the oldest building in this area, the Forest Bungalow, which Horsley got constructed for himself around 1870 with floor tiles and a few decor items he imported from his home country, England. 

The closest town is Madanapalle. And once you are done exploring Horsley Hills, you should come down here. This place is associated with the great philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurthi. He along with Sarvepalli Radhakrishna, the former President, are considered the finest philosophers of India produced in the 20th century. Unfortunately, there is little to commemorate them in their native state of Andhra Pradesh, not surprising given the state's notoriety in forgetting or ignoring its own legends. 

A small bust of Krishnamurthi is the only tribute you will see near the Forest Bungalow. For a better insight into his life and works, you can visit the Rishi Valley School, which he established in Madanapalle in 1926. Some parts of the school are accessible to visitors with permission and you can find plenty of books by and on Krishnamurthi here.

Locals tell us that around 20 years ago, Horsley Hills was the quietest and most secluded place in the state. However, things have changed in recent years. Over the past decade and a half, Horsley Hills has become a popular destination with travellers. For example, Bangaloreans find it an easy weekend getaway gave that it is only around 3 to 4 hours’ drive along good roads. 

Also with the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation building a resort here with conference facilities and cottages, there are many conferences being held here during the peak season. It is also a family-friendly place so there are plenty of families coming here for a getaway. Finally, Madanapalle, a big educational centre with schools and engineering colleges, is next-door, a mere half-hour away. So there are plenty of school-picnics held here while college students come here in groups regularly.