If you need a quiet getaway from the hustle bustle of daily life then Kodaikanal is the place to go. Located on the southern tip of the upper Palani hills in the Western Ghats, Kodaikanal is a hill station with thickly wooded slopes, picturesque locations and breathtaking waterfalls. Fruits like plums, pears and plantains grow in plenty on the wooded slopes and are a treat to the eyes. Kodaikanal's rich flora and fauna will linger in your memories forever.
With a cool and comfortable climate, Kodaikanal makes the perfect summer retreat. This is the only hill station in India that was set up during the British Raj by American Missionaries. Apart from being a popular tourist destination, it is also famous for its globally recognized educational institutions.
Places to visit
There are a number of attractions in Kodaikanal. There are also many options for the adventurous tourists like trekking, cycling, boating, etc. Or you could just go for a walk and enjoy the nature and its surroundings.
Here are some of the places you could visit.
The Berijam Lake, spread over an area of 24 hectares is one of the beautiful lakes of South India. Shaped like a star, the lake is famous for its purity of water. The Bryant Park, located on the eastern side of the lake is famous for flowers, hybrids and grafts. A glasshouse that has fine varieties of flowers is situated within the park. A flower show is conducted every year in May as part of the Summer Festival. The flowers grown here are exported to various countries across the world.
Visit the Dolphin's nose, a flat projecting rock from where you can get an awesome view of the Yawning Chasm below. The Moer Point similarly offers a view of the valley below and is close to the Berijam Lake. Fairy Falls is a picnic spot that has a naturally created artistic bathing basin. Very close to the lake is the Green Valley View. From this point you can see the Vaigai Dam.
You can take short or long treks in and around Kodaikanal. Overnight treks to nearby places are also available and you could spend the night at a local village. The Perumal Peak at 2,440 meters high offers an excellent opportunity for trekking. The starting point for the trek is known as the Neutral Saddle (Perumal Malai Village). Kukkal Caves is a beautiful campsite that is ideal for trekking. You can see traces of the leaf clothed Paliyans who were the earliest inhabitants of the region.
You would not want to miss the Solar Physical Observatory and Telescope House where you can view the sky and the stars. Bear Shola falls, Dolmen Circle and the Shenbaganur Museum are the other attractions in Kodaikanal.
Fairs and Festivals
The Summer Festival celebrated in May every year includes boat races and flower shows. As part of the show you can experience many cultural programs, adventure sports, boat races, flower and fruit shows. The Mother Salette Festival is held on August 15th at the Mother Salette Church. This festival attracts a congregation of people from all over South India. The Winter Festival is held in December. In Palani, the Phanguni Uthiram festival is held during the months of March-April and the Adi Krithikai festival during July-August. You can see hundreds of Kavadi dancers at the temple.
When to visit
The weather is best between April to June and August to September. Temperatures stay in the range of 20oC to 10oC. The months between October and March are wet and cold.
How to reach
You can fly to nearby destinations like Madurai, Coimbatore or Trichy. The nearest railway stations are Dindigul, Kodaikanal Road and Madurai. Kodaikanal is well connected by roads and buses from Dindigul, Madurai or Palani will take you to Kodai Road.
Where to stay
Kodaikanal offers reasonably good accommodation facilities. At the higher end of the spectrum you will find a few luxury hotels. Most of the mid-size hotels have a cozy ambience and come with the basic amenities like TV, hot water, etc. You will also find budget lodges and will need to double-check the facilities before you stay here. You will also find a wide variety of cuisines that include Chinese, Tibetan, Mughlai and South Indian food. Most of the eateries are located along the streets.
What to shop
Kodaikanal is famous for it's variety of cheeses and home made chocolates. This apart, you can shop around for exquisitely embroidered clothes, crafts and handlooms.
What to remember
- There are no auto-rickshaws in Kodaikanal. While most of Kodaikanal can be covered on foot, mountain bikes and ordinary bicycles can be hired. Taxi services are also available.
- Light warm clothing is required even in the summer months as the nights get cooler.
- Carry an umbrella or a raincoat to protect you from the rains.