"That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material." ~ Swami Vivekananda

Tamil Nadu

Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal at an altitude of 2,133 m on the southern tip of the upper Palani hills in the Western Ghats, is a beautiful hill station with a charming ambience.

Located 120 km from Madurai, Kodaikanal is a beautiful hill station at an altitude of 2,133 m on the southern tip of the upper Palani hills in the Western Ghats. Kodaikanal promises to be an ideal getaway for those craving for an invigorating yet soothing holiday, away from the grind of the city.

Kodai has thickly wooded slopes, well laid out walking paths through picturesque locations, tumultuous waterfalls and steep rock outcrops. Just a few minutes walk in any direction from the heart of Kodai town brings the tourist to spectacular scenery which mesmerizes. Apart from being a much sought after tourist resort, Kodai is also famous for its educational institutions which are globally renowned.

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Kodaikanal has a bracing climate where temperature does not vary much between summer and winter. Fruits like plums and plantains grow abundantly on the wooded slopes apart from a wide variety of flowers. Kodai is rich in flora and fauna. Home to various species of birds including the Laughing Thrush and the Kodai White-bellied Shortwing, Kodai is a bird - watcher's delight. The Orchidorium at the Sacred Heart College has about 300 species of orchids. Kodai is also blessed with the rare bloom of the highly elusive Kurinji flower that makes a dramatic appearance once in 12 years. The Kurinji last bloomed in 1992.

 

Kodai has thickly wooded slopes, well laid out walking paths through picturesque locations, tumultuous waterfalls and steep rock outcrops.
The resort is a virtual heaven for trekkers and avid nature lovers. Amongst its other natural attractions is a star - shaped lake, set in a dreamy locale spread over an area of 24 hectares where fishing is allowed and boating facilities are available. The Boat Club offers umpteen pleasure and racing trips. The splendid Bryant Park, famous for its rare collection of flowers, graftings and hybrids, is the venue of great horticultural shows, held every year in May. Another major attraction of this area is the country's only Solar Physical Laboratory, founded in 1898.

There are also a number of picturesque walks like Coaker's Walk and Priest's Walk. Kodai's best viewpoints are Pillar Rocks and Green Valley View. Bear Shola Falls, Silver Cascade, Fairy Falls and Glen Falls are popular with picnickers while the Perumal Peak is a favourite with trekkers. The Kurinji Andavar temple 3.2 km away is dedicated to Lord Subramanya.

History
TThe first people who lived in the hills were dolmen-builders who have left behind several visible artefacts. The survey report of 1821 reveals that Paliyans were the aborgines of the Palani Hills and followed Tamil Culture.

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Ihe hill station, Kodaikanal was created to serve the needs of the British and Europeans in India. British Lieutenant Ward first surveyed the Palani Hills in 1821 when he climbed up from the Kunnavan Village of Veelagavi to Kodaikanal. In 1834, the collector of Madurai climbed up from Devadanapatti and built a small bungalow at the head of Adukkam Pass near Shenbaganar. Dr. Wight visited Kodaikanal in 1836 and recorded his observations, which was very useful to botanists later. In 1845, American Mission people with the help of Englishmen Mr. Fane built the first two bungalows "Sunny - side" and "Shelton".

Later six American families settled at Kodaikanal. In 1864, Colonel Hamilton recorded his opinion that Berijam Lake area was the best site in the Palani Hills for a military cantonment or sanatorium. In 1875, Indian Railways extended its line from Madras to Tirunelveli and a station was created at Ammainayakkanur (Kodai Road later), which facilitated visits to Kodaikanal.

Landmarks

The Lake
This 24-hectare lake skirted by a 5 km long road is a focal point of Kodai. It was created in 1863 by Sir Vere Hentry Levinge (1819-1885), the collector of Madurai who retired and settled in Kodai. He constructed a bund to form a lake and stocked the lake with fish. He also brought the first boat from Tuticorin. In 1890, a boat club was formed and in 1910 a new boathouse was constructed. Since May 1929, tourists have been permitted to avail of boating facilities as temporary members.

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T.T.D.C. boats, Boat Club boats and Carlton boats are available for hire on an hourly basis. The annual boat pageant is held in May every year as a part of the Summer Festival celebrations. Prior permission has to be taken from the Inspector of Fisheries for angling. Pony rides for quarter, half and full round of the lake are available. The ponies can also be hired on an hourly basis. Cycle rides for children are also available.

Dolphin's Nose
This is a flat projecting rock from where one can have a look at the breath-taking view of the Yawning Chasm below. It is about 8 km from the lake.

Bryant Park
This park is situated on the eastern side of the lake. It is noted for flowers, hybrids and grafts. Cut flowers are exported from here. A glasshouse which shelters over fine varieties of flowers can be seen here. Flower show conducted every May, as a part of Summer Festival is a major attraction.

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The Perumal Peak
This 2,440 m high peak is about 11.3 km from Kodaikanal and offers an excellent opportunity for trekking. The climb begins from a point known as Neutral Saddle (Perumal Mallai Village).

Moer Point
A lovely view of the valley below can be seen from here. It is 3 km from Pillar Rock en route to Berijam lake road.

Fairy Falls
A delightful picnic spot 5 km from the lake, it has a naturally created artistic bathing basin.

Chettiar Park
In Northeast corner of the town, on the way to Kurinji Andavar temple, this park is off the beaten track.

Green Valley View
It is about 5.5 km from the lake and very near to Golf club. It commands a beautiful view of the entire Vaigai Dam. As the valley is very deep and dangerous, this place was once called "Suicide Point".

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Kukkal Caves (40 km)
A beautiful campsite ideal for trekking. The caves shows traces of earliest known inhabitants of the region - the leaf clothed Paliyans.

Dolmen Circle
It is 18 km from the lake. Pre-historic remains, original burial urns and models of dolmens unearthed in this region may be seen in Shenbaganur museum.

Bear Shola Falls
An ideal picnic spot, it can be reached via a picturesque hill path.

Shenbaganur Museum
Maintained by the Sacred Heart College, a Theological Seminary, it was founded in 1895 and is devoted to archaeological remains and the flora and fauna of the hills. A Spanish Father Ugarthe contributed his major collections to the Museum. One of the biggest orchidoriums in the country with more than 300 species of orchids is also housed here.

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Solar Physical Observatory
It was founded in 1989 at the top most point in Kodai at an altitude of 2343 m. Visitors are allowed to closely observe the stars, planetary movements during visiting hours and on prior appointments.

Telescope House
To enable the visitors to have a panoramic view of the valley and nearby towns a telescope house is operational at Coakers walk.

Coaker's Walk
This hill-edge path way was identified by Er. Coaker, in 1872. About a km from the lake Coakers walk runs along a steep slope on the southern side of Kodai and offers scenic views of the plains.

Palani (62 km)
The temple at Palani is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya. Dedicated to Sri Dandayuthapani, the temple is built atop a 140m high hill and can be reached either using the steps or the electrically operated winch. During the festivals of Panguni Utthiram (March-April) and Adi Krithikai (July-August), Kavadi dancers flock to the temple in hundreds, often in a state of trance. Direct frequent buses are available from Kodaikanal.

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Kurinji Andavar Temple (3km)
A famous shrine dedicated to Lord Muruga. This temple is associated with the Kurinji flowers, which carpet the hillsides and blooms once in 12 years. Kurinji also means hill region in Tamil literature and Andavar means God. Hence Lord Muruga is referred as God of Hill here. From this temple one can see a view of Palani and Vaigai dams.

The Pillar Rocks (7km)
Three boulders stand shoulder to shoulder vertically measuring to a height of about 122 meters. It has a mini garden with lovely flowers.

Berijam Lake (21 km)
Periyakulam town gets drinking water from this lake which is a fine picnic spot.

Silver Cascade (8km)
The overflow of Kodai lake comes down here as 180 feet high falls. A favourite bathing spot for tourists.

Thalaiyar Falls
Also known as Rat Tail falls it can be seen while climbing from Ghat road to Kodaikanal. The falls site is inaccessible due to the lack of an approach route.

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Festivals

Summer Festival: Celebrated in May every year, boat races and flower shows make it a major tourist attraction. Aug. 15 Salette Matha festival. Winter Festival in December.

General Information

Accommodation
Kodaikanal Club, Valley View Hotel, The Carlton Hotel are luxury hotels in Kodaikanal. Hotel Astoria, Snooze Inn, Hotel garden Manor and Hilltop Towers are mid range hotels. Greenlands Youth Hostel, Yagapa Lodge, Kodai Lodge, Sterling Guest House and Hotel Sunrise are budget options.

Places to Eat
The Carlton Hotel offers an excellent buffet. Taj Villa and Manna Bake Vegetarian Restaurant are other options for a royal meal. Wang's Kitchen, Silver Inn Restaurant and Little Silver Star at Bazaar Road offer great meals.

How to get There
Air: Nearest Airport is at Madurai 121 km from Kodaikanal.
Rail: Nearest rail head to catch fast trains is Kodai Road on the Chennai-Madurai broad gauge line, 80 km from Kodaikanal. At Kodai Road, railway-retiring rooms are available. Privately run hotels offer accommodation for a brief stay to catch trains. The Palani railway station is 64 km away.
Road: Kodaikanal is connected by road with all important towns. Regular bus services are available from Kodaikanal to Madurai, Palani, Kodaikanal Road, Theni, Dindugul, Triruchchirappalli, Kumuli, Erode, Bangalore and Coimbatore. Taxis and vans are available for local transport.

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Shopping
Khadi Emporium, Poompuhar Emporium, at Kodaikanal Township Bus Stand; Kurinji Mini Super Market; Spencer & Compnay, Kairali Kerala Handi-crafts, Co-optex at Annasalai are some good places to shop. The Cottage Crafts Shop on Bazaar Road staffed by volunteers, supports the needy. The road down to the lake has Tibetan Stalls selling warm clothing shawls at reasonable prices.

Altitude: 2,133 metres above sea level
Climate:Max Min Summer 19.8 c 11.3 C; Winter 17.3 c 8.3 C
Rainfall:165 cm (average) Heavy rain occurs during September - November.
Clothing:Light woollen in the evening during summer and heavy woollen during winter.
Best Season:April to June and September and October.
Languages:Tamil and English

Tourist Information
Tourist Office (Govt. of Tamil Nadu): Township Bus Stand Rest House
Complex (Next Bus Stand), Kodaikanal, Phone: 41675


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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.