Kodaikanal is a hill town in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s set in an area of granite cliffs, forested valleys, lakes, waterfalls and grassy hills. Kodai is situated at an altitude of about 2,133-m high and covers an area of 21.45-sq-km. The hill town is renowned for its educational institutions of international repute. Other than the fascinating places to visit in Kodaikanal, the pride of Kodaikanal is the 'Kurinji-flower', which blossoms once in 12 years. The hill-plantain fruits and plums are known for their freshness and taste. The town centers around star-shaped, man-made Kodaikanal Lake, bordered by evergreen forests. The cool and misty weather, the scenic beauty of the rolling hills and the wooded forest of Kodaikanal and its surroundings will mesmerize any visitor throughout the year. Walk through the wooded forests, row in the lake, bath in one of the splashing waterfalls, go for horse riding and cycling around the lake or simply admire the views.
The history of Kodaikanal begins during 1821 when Lieutenant B. S. Ward, a British surveyor was the first European to visit Kodaikanal, who was on the lookout for a healthy place to live, for the foreign missionaries working in Madurai and the surrounding areas to escape from the summer heat and epidemics.
The early visitors to Kodaikanal, had to travel by horse, bullock cart or palanquin. The forest were infested by robbers and wild animals, and yet it became very popular with the elite families, because of the wonderful climate and clean air.
In 1834, the Collector of Madurai climbed up from Devadanapatti and built a small bungalow at Kodaikanal. By the second half of the 19th century, churches and other colonial structures started popping up in and around Kodaikanal. Examples of some beautiful structures are the Union Church built in 1895, and a large number of private bungalows.
In 1863, Sir Vere Hendry Levinge, the Collector of Madurai, created the 60 acres Kodai Lake by damming three streams flowing through. He stocked the lake with fish. He also brought the first boat from Tuticorin. A boat club was formed in Kodaikanal in 1890. Since May 1929, the club has permitted tourists to join the club as temporary members and avail of boating facilities.
What To See
It is surrounded by a picturesque cover of greenery and is a home to a wide verity of flora and fauna and also serves as the source of drinking water to the nearby villages. A special permit from the forest department is needed to enter the place and only a certain number of vehicles are allowed. The fire tower, lake view and the medicine forest are the main attractions here. Entry to the area is restricted between 9.30 am to 3 pm as wild animals like panther, deer, snakes and bison are often spotted near the lake during these hours.
It is one place you must visit when in Kodaikanal. It is a 1 kilometre long pathway constructed by Lt.Coaker in 1872, is a 1 kilometers (0.62 mi) paved pedestrian path running along the edge of steep slopes on the southern side of Kodai. The walk, winding around Mount Nebo, starts in front of the Van Allen hospital, running parallel to the Van Allen Hospital Road and joins the main road beside St.Peter's Church, providing a stunning panoramic view of the plains.On a clear day one can view as far as Dolphin's Nose in south, the valley of the Pambar River in the southeast, Periyakulam town and even the city of Madurai. A fascinating rare phenomenon called Brocken spectre can be witnessed, when a person can see his shadow on the clouds with a rainbow halo. This occurs when the sun is behind the viewer and clouds and mist are to the front. There is an observatory with a telescope halfway along the walk. Entrance fee to the walkway is nominal and it is open throughout the year.
Also known as Kodai lake is a star shaped lake it is located amidst the most calm and serene environment. This lake is a home to various birds and the 5 kilometre long path that is near the shores of the lake is one of the favourite places where tourist come for a casual walk and enjoy the beauty of the nature. Pedal boats and Row boats can be availed by the tourists here along with horses and bicycles.
It’s a popular trekking spot in Kodaikanal, Dolphin’s Nose is a rock which projects over a wide chasm which is approximately 2,000 meters deep. Its peculiar shape is the reason behind the name and one can witness the most breathtaking views of the Western Ghats from here. One can also access the amazing Pambar or the Liril Falls here which is an amazing hidden attraction.
It’s a famous picnic spot, The Bryant Park is 20.5 acre botanical garden and is situated at the east end of the Kodaikanal Lake. The park is filled with a variety of flora which includes around 325 species of trees, cactus and shrubs and a massive 740 species of roses. The various horticulture and flower shows are organised every summer and is a popular place where you can relax and get lost in the lush green surroundings.
Green Valley Point
The place was formerly known as suicide point but was later changed to Green Valley Point for obvious reasons. The place is known for its panoramic views of the mountains and has an approximate 5000 feet drop from the top. One can also view the amazing pillar rocks which were scaled and hoisted by an English adventurer.
Bear Shola Falls
Bear Shola Falls are 3 kilometers from the bus-stand, is a tall waterfall in a Reserve forest. The final approach to this quiet area is a gently climbing foot-path.
Shenbaganur Museum of Natural History is 6 kilometers from the bus-stand, founded in 1895, is open to the public for viewing their outstanding taxidermy collection of more than 500 species of animals, birds and insects and a living collection of over 300 exotic orchid species. The museum is affliated with Loyola College in Chennai and exhibits artifacts of the ancient Palaiyar tribes people whose descendants still live in these hills.
Kodaikanal Solar Observatory is 6 kilometers from the bus-stand on Observatory Road, at 2,343 meters (7,687 ft) is the highest location near Kodai. The first observations were commenced here in 1901. Former Director John Evershed, discovered the phenomenon of radial motion in sunspots, now known as the Evershed effect. The Kodaikanal Terrestrial Telescope can view a grand panorama including: Sothupparai Dam, Vaigai Dam, Periyakulam and Varaha river.This Indian Institute of Astrophysics facility has a comprehensive Astronomical Science museum with organized public tours, access to the astronomy library, and scheduled night-time telescopic sky viewing. It is open daily to the public during peak season, and a few hours each Friday the rest of the year.
Guna caves made popular by the Tamil movie Guna, previously called Devil’s Kitchen, are deep bat-infested chambers between the three gigantic boulders that are the Pillar Rocks. The deep narrow ravines of the caves are now closed to public due to the trajic deaths of twelve youths there. These dangerous caves are highly protected now, and tourists can see sections of the cave system from afar.
Silver Cascade is 8 kilometers from Kodaikanal at a wide bend in the long and winding Laws Ghat Road, at altitude 1,800 meters (5,906 ft), is a 55 meters (180 ft) waterfall formed from the outflow of Kodaikanal Lake. The water quality is reportedly poor and not good enough for bathing. This impressive waterfall is a popular stop for first-time visitors. There are a few souvenir and fruit vendors and many monkeys here. There is also a smaller but more serene waterfall below the bridge which crosses the stream here.
Kurinji Andavar Murugan temple
It is 4 kilometers from the bus-stand, is famous for its Kurinji flower which blossoms in the area only once every 12 years. The deity here is called Sri Kurinji Easware, who is in fact Lord Murugan. This temple was built in 1936 by a European lady, who on coming to India, converted to Hinduism.She changed her name to Leelavathi and married a Mr.Ramanathan. She is also known as Lady Ramanathan. This temple is under the management of Arulmighu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Thiru Kovil, Palani.
Mannavanur is downhill from Kodaikanal and at a distance of 40 kms, it is little more than an hour’s drive from the hill station. There are neither proper accommodation options nor eateries around here. However there are certain camp sites close by that offer some basic accommodation. There are several trek routes that pass via Mannavanur.
How To Reach
By Air The nearest Airport - Madurai is 120 kms, Coimbatore 170 kms and Trichy 195 kms all are connected very well with all the major airport of india.
By Rail Many trains pass through Kodaikanal road station,which is nearly 80 kms to Kodaikanal.
By Road Kodaikanal is connected by Road with all important towns of South India. Regular bus services are available from Kodaikanal to Madurai, Palani, Kodai Road, Theni, Dindigul, Thiruchirappalli.
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