Nature is the artwork of God.
Kodaikanal is a city in the hills of the Dindigul district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Its name in the Tamil language means “The Gift of the Forest”. Kodaikanal is referred to as the “Princess of Hill stations” and has a long history as a retreat and popular tourist destination.
And I can see why the above hold true.
I visited Kodaikanal recently, along with a couple of my friends – three people including myself – the bare minimum necessary for a trip providing maximum enjoyment.
We traveled over in June, arguably the best time visit – borderline between summer and winter.
Now I will share a lot pictures here as this piece goes by, just to share the immense beauty of the place.
In fact, pictures do speak a 1,000 words.
We left from Chennai by a 7pm bus, the route being via Puducherry.
Chennai (depart 7pm) -> Puducherry -> Tiruchirapalli -> Dindigul -> Kodaikanal (arrive 7am)
The journey was largely without any incident – just the usual swaying of the bus as we spoke into the night.
We were riding up the Kodaikanal hills by 6:30am, and we were greeted by this view.
This was a hillock among the route up-hill to Kodaikanal Hilltop, upon which was perched a villa – basking in the morning sunshine.
Further shots along the way up the hill are shared below. Now I was listening to the famous track ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ which had risen up the charts just a while back at that time, and it was so befitting to the surroundings. The song makes you feel like you are in a dream and listening to it while climbing up these beautiful hills made it feel like I was lost in a dream away from reality forever.
I don’t remember exactly, but this seems like the distance from the foothills to the top.
There were many other breathtaking views on the way up.
Having reached the hilltop by 7am, we wasted no time in getting ready to see the place. We stayed in a decent budget lodge away from the centre comprising the Government Bus Stand. This was a on the outskirts and a bit isolated from the town, especially at night, which gave a real feel of a hill station. They had a subsidiary taxi service that showed guests around Kodaikanal at affordable rates (which was pretty much big business there anyway).
This was the view from our balcony on the morning we reached.
There was a complementary map provided by the lodge the moment we entered to aid through our sight-seeing. Note that many of these places are overlapping (meaning, two different names for the same place), even otherwise we could cover 75% of the places on a two-day trip. Three days would be perfect to see all the wonderful places here.
These were the places we visited and activities we engaged in chronological order:
(1) Coaker’s Walk
(2) Upper Lake View
(3) Pine-tree Forest
(4) Moir Point
(5) Kodaikanal Lake
(6) Cycling Around The Lake
(8) Vattakanal Falls
(9) Green Valley View
(10) Pillar Rocks
(11) Golf Course
(12) 500 Year Old Tree
(13) Shopping – Homemade chocolates, 100% pure coconut oil, and other hilltop special oils & spices
(14) Capturing pics, pics and more pics!
(1) Coaker’s Walk:
This is a 1 km pathway along the edge of the hilltop on the southern side of Kodaikanal. It gives a stunning panoramic view of the plains and on a clear day, one can see as far as the city of Madurai. A beautiful optical phenomenon called Brocken Spectre can be observed if the sun is behind the viewer and there are clouds in front of him/her – the viewer’s shadow will be enlarged and projected onto the clouds with a rainbow halo around him – simply splendid. But we were not so lucky to have have witnessed that that day.
But take nothing away, the view is simply brilliant. It feels like you are living and walking among the clouds – like on cloud nine. This is the place where you literally walk among the clouds and the clouds blow towards you. What we see in the city upwards are clouds moving – now project yourself directly upwards – that is where you are if you walk by Coaker’s Walk. Pics below.
(2) Upper Lake View:
Next up in the list was the Upper Lake View. Nothing much to be said about this – it is self-explanatory, it gives us the upper view of a lake below.
A great view nonetheless.
(3) Pine-tree Forest:
This is a forest completely of pine trees and nothing else – not even an innocent shrub to be found anywhere. Only pine trees, sprouting up to excess of 60 feet to be found everywhere. It is more like a jungle than a forest. This started out as pine-tree plantations initially.
(4) Moir Point:
This is another valley view point – but unfortunately for us, it started raining and it was just too cloudy that we could hardly see the view.
(5) Kodaikanal Lake:
This is a major attraction here within the centre of the hill town. It is an artificial lake spanning 5 km in periphery.
We did activities like boating and cycling around the lake. Bliss.
(6) Vattakanal Falls:
This, for me, was the highlight of the trip.
Situated a bit far from Kodaikanal town, we left for Vattakanal Falls on the morning of the 2nd day.
These are low lying waterfalls nestled among the forests.
This is no exaggeration or overstatement – the whole place gives you a feeling like you are personally in the ‘Avatar’ film – such a surreal and stunning experience!
And these pics below are proof and more of that.
(7) Green Valley View:
Green Valley View, (formerly called Suicide Point) is another brilliant point for panoramic view of the plains.
It is dotted with many commercial activities – business of teas, homemade chocolates and spices.
Sadly it was too cloudy by the time we reached the place and nothing was visible of the plains.
(8) Pillar Rocks:
Pillar Rocks, 8 kilometres from the bus-stand, is a set of three giant rock pillars which stand 122 metres (400 ft) high.
Previously entry was allowed into the rocks, but that became banned recently after alleged incidents of people not returning – not very sure if they were verified or not. Again, this is a spot which is vulnerable to clouding. The clouds were just moving away as we visited the place, displayed brilliantly below.
A perfect past-time of the affluent in Kodaikanal.
This looked like greenery upon greenery itself!
(10) 500-Year-Old Tree:
This is supposedly a tree, an old tree, in fact, a very old tree – 500 years in all!
Common name: Shola Jamun: A rare forest giant found only in the montane tropical shola forests of Southern India. (reference http://www.outreachecology.com/landmark/lti_l043/)
There were wild litchis being sold by the viewpoint of this – trust me it did look wild – thorn like protrusions on top of the fruit which were actually harmless.
Kodaikanal is famous, just like any other hill-station, for its homemade chocolates, spices, tea, coffee, oils and soaps. The garments sold by the side of the Kodaikanal lake are affordable and of decent make.
The homemade chocolates, though, are not to be missed! Each and every corner is dotted with shops selling these.
Kodaikanal lives up to the name of “Princess of Hill Stations” – in fact it exceeds the name itself.
A perfect plan would be a 3 day trip to cover all the places of tourist importance and stellar beauty. Small groups are preferable to have more fun.
Best time would be June/July/August when the winter has not yet set in – this way most viewpoints would be visible in all its beauty – and also the summer is a bit away too.
“It is easier to go down a hill, but the view is so much better from the top.”
-Henry Ward Beecher
“The clouds are the only birds that never ever sleep and migrate incessantly.”