All About Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu's Scenic Hill Station

Visitors can explore the woods, enjoy boating on the lake, take a refreshing dip in waterfalls or simply soak in the breathtaking views of Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal lake
Kodaikanal lake Shutterstock

Kodaikanal, often called the "Princess of Hills," is a highly sought-after hill station in Tamil Nadu, known for its serene beauty. It sits at an elevation of around 7,000 feet above sea level and was established as a destination by British officials and Christian missionaries in 1845. However, references to this picturesque hill station date back to ancient Sangam literature.

It gained popularity during the British colonial era as a summer retreat and vacation spot. Since then, it has remained a favoured destination for those seeking a mountain getaway.

The appeal of Kodaikanal lies in its hills, cascading waterfalls and lakes. Visitors can indulge in boating, cycling, horse riding, and trekking activities. One unique natural spectacle in this region is the rare Kurinji flower, which blooms only once every 12 years, making it a must-see event for nature enthusiasts.

Places Of Interest In Kodaikanal

Berijam Lake

Berijam Lake, situated 22 km southwest of the renowned Kodaikanal Lake, is a beautiful natural freshwater lake nestled amidst a lush forest. It's an ideal spot for bird enthusiasts, as you can spot crested serpent eagles, pariah kites, pale-rumped swallows, and edible-nest swiftlets in the Upper Palani Shola reserve forest. Migratory birds like common rosefinch, blue chat, leaf-warblers, and Blyth's reed warblers also visit this area.

You can enjoy fishing, bird watching, or strolls around the lake. Please note that boating is not allowed in the lake to preserve its natural freshwater quality, as it serves as the primary water source for the nearby town of Periyakulam.

To reach Berijam Lake, you'll need a forest pass, which you can easily obtain from the District Forest Office.

Pine forest, Kodaikanal
Pine forest, KodaikanalShutterstock

Pine Forest

The Pine Forests in Kodaikanal are a must-visit attraction. These forests, located in the southwestern part of Kodaikanal, are home to hundreds of pine trees that create a perfect ambience for leisurely walks. These pine plantations were established over a century ago, thanks to the efforts of a British Officer named H.D. Bryant in 1906.

Locally, two sets of pine forests exist: Pine Forest 1, located near the Solar Observatory, and Pine Forest 2, found near Moir Point. Both offer unique experiences amidst the pine trees. These forests are a favourite spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts.

Roots of Guna Caves
Roots of Guna CavesShutterstock

Guna Caves

The Guna Caves are located 10 kilometres from Kodaikanal, accessible via a walk through pine forests. Although you can't enter the caves for safety reasons, you can still view them from a safe distance. The caves are surrounded by Shola trees and grass, with their gnarled and twisted roots adding to the mysterious atmosphere.

The caves have a historical connection, as they were discovered by an American named B. S. Ward in 1821. According to Hindu mythology, the Pandavas once stayed in these caves and cooked their meals there. However, the caves gained fame after being featured in the movie "Guna,", particularly in the hit song "Kanmani anbodu kadhalan."

Kodaikanal Lake

The star-shaped artificial lake, created in 1863 under the supervision of Sir Vere Henry Levinge, the then Collector of Madurai, is the heart of Kodaikanal. Visitors can enjoy boating on the lake, with options for regular and luxury boats, rowing, and pedalling boats. The lake is home to diverse flora and fauna, including various fish and aquatic plants. You can find the rare Kurinji (Strobilanthes cynthiana) that blooms once every 12 years in the lake's catchment area.

Many people enjoy cycling or horseback riding around the lake; you can even rent bicycles. There's ample parking available near the lake, and recreational activities for children are also nearby.

A view of Coaker's Walk, Kodaikanal
A view of Coaker's Walk, KodaikanalShutterstock

Coaker's Walk

Tourists flock to this spot to witness sunrises and sunsets. The pathway begins at Van Allen Hospital and passes by St. Peter's Church, with protective fences on both sides. This walkway, built in 1872 by Lieutenant Coaker on a steep mountain slope, offers stunning views of the Pambar River valley to the southeast.

On a clear day, visitors can see Dolphin's Nose Point to the south, as well as Periyakulam town and Madurai city from the viewpoint. You might even witness the Brocken spectre phenomenon, where your shadow is cast on clouds with a rainbow halo. There's an observatory along the walkway for a clearer and broader view of the landscape.

Places To Stay

For budget-conscious backpackers and travellers, the town offers numerous guesthouses, hostels, and affordable hotels. Options like J's Heritage, RR Residency, and Apple Valley provide clean and comfortable stays ranging from INR 800 to 2000 per night.

Mid-range travellers can enjoy the charm of boutique hotels and resorts such as The Carlton, Kodai Resort Hotel, or Sterling Kodai Lake, offering comfort and affordability, with prices averaging between INR 2500 to 6000 per night.

For those seeking luxury, Kodaikanal features high-end resorts and villas like The Tamara Kodai, Le Poshe by Sparsa, and Club Mahindra Lakeview Resort. These accommodations provide breathtaking views, spa facilities, and world-class amenities, with prices ranging from INR 7000 to 20,000 per night.

Getting There

By Road: The Kodaikanal Bus Stand offers regular bus services to and from Madurai Aarappalayam, Batlagundu, Palani, Oddanchatram, Kodai Road, and Dindigul.

By Air: Madurai International Airport is approximately 115 km from Kodaikanal, while Coimbatore International Airport is about 170 km away.

By Train: Palani Railway Station is located 64 km away, and Kodai Road Station is 80 km away, both offering regular train services from Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, and Coimbatore.

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