Kodaikanal, a hill station in South India is often called the “Princess of Hill Stations”. And Kodaikanal or Kodai or Kodi as the place is affectionately called deserves every bit of this adjective as the beauty of this place just takes your breath away. The rolling meadows, enchanting waterfalls, pine trees and the dense woods just make you fall in love with this place. Kodai is abundantly blessed with natural beauty!
Though Kodaikanal is famous as honeymoon destination, this place offers a little bit of everything for all kinds of travelers. Kodai is situated in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu. The nearest airport would be Madurai while the nearest railway station would be Palani. To reach Kodai, you would need to either hire a cab from these places or take a bus.
As usual I had made a list of the must visit places and could manage to cover most of them. We were here for 4 days and took our own sweet time to check these places out.
A star shaped man made lake right in the center of the city spread over almost 60 acres. Boating, horse riding and cycling are the most popular activities here. We stayed awa from boating and horse riding as these were just too touristy for us. Cycles are available at an hourly rate at 3-4 outlets around the lake. The resort we were staying in also offered the same at a cost and we made use of the same. It takes an average of an hour to make a full round of the lake at a leisurely pace, especially when you have small children cycling their hearts out! We would stop at abandoned little corners rather than near the shopping areas of the lake like an old boat house and couple of gardens. Though these were in bad shape and needed sprucing up, we loved the tall uncut grass in these small corner gardens and watching the sunset from these little havens has definitely had an everlasting effect on all four of us. The boathouse even had a loosely tied up boat floating around inside which the Mr. duly jumped in and explored to the amusement of the girls. As for me, I was transported back in time to all those Enid Blyton novels I read growing up!
About half a kilometer away from the city lies Coalker’s Walk. A pedestrian walkway, this path stretches to almost a kilometer and has been built on the steep slope of a mountain. A telescope house is situated near the entrance. The St. Peter’s church, a beautiful little church is also nearby. We visited this place at around 7.00am in the morning and we were lucky enough to get the whole place for ourselves. And what a beautiful pathway this is. You are greeted with stunning views at every corner. We even came across a charming little house set right into the mountainside on top of this path. We took a leisurely walk and spent more than an hour soaking up all those lovely views.
Pillar Rocks & Moir Point
Both these places are on the same route along with Guna caves Berijam Lake. A set of three huge vertical boulders that reach up to 400 feet, that’s Pillar Rocks for you. The place has loads of eateries and a small govt. run garden. The chambers between the rocks are knows as Guna caves. Also called Devil’s Kitchen, these caves are bat infested. Only some sections of these caves can be viewed from afar, so we dropped the idea of visiting them and went further ahead to Moir Point. Located bang at the entrance of the forest that leads to Berijam lake, this place again offers those dreamy views! Sigh. A viewing tower and a monument complete this place. By the time we were done with mountain watching, the line at the entrance of the forest had swollen. You need a permit to visit the Berijam lake and it looked as if we would have to spent a long time just to get the permit. The lake was a good 20km inside the forest and this meant spending the whole day for the same. And we ended up turning back with a heavy heart.
Kodaikanal Solar Observatory
Owned and operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory is located 4kms away from the town. This place was nowhere in our plans but loved sighting the buildings while on our way to the Pine Forest. As luck would have it, the Pine Forest was now shut for the public and the suicide point was just too far away and too crowded to even think of. So we went back into town, had a hearty breakfast at the resort and there we were, back at the Observatory. Located on a hill, the place does not allow the use of phones or cameras which is definitely a boon in my opinion. You see all these tourist spots crowded with people interested in clicking selfies rather than exploring the place that this observatory was a welcome change. You need to walk up the hill for a good 15 minutes through a thickly wooded area. There are benches at intervals for those who want to take a break too. And while walking up, we were fortunate enough to spot to mountain squirrels playing together. The observatory houses a small yet interesting museum for visitors with a live solar image. They also have a 20 minute video in a separate room describing the history of the institute and its new location up north. The other buildings in the property are off limits for visitors. Though a pretty small attraction when compared to the other spots, we loved the lovely walk through the woods and the museum.
We did try to visit this place, but the GPS played truant! It took us to the gate at the top which has been closed for some time now. And we had to turn back and go via the forest route. And the road started getting narrower and narrower and the children started getting so scared that we eventually turned back! The locals we spotted on the road were also not that enthusiastic!
There were a lot more places to be seen as per all the material I read online, but we stuck to these few and spaced them out so our girls could enjoy the same and the activities at the resort without being tired!