Kodaikanal — ‘Princess of hill stations’, is a popular tourist destination in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Kodaikanal meaning ‘The gift of the forest’, has a long history as a retreat, attracting thousands of visitors to this hilly town perched at a height of nearly 7000 ft. Rich in flora, gigantic eucalyptus trees, and shola forests flourish in the valley, while lush green grasslands and meadows cover the hillsides. Owing to its high elevation, the temperature at Kodaikanal remains cool throughout the year.
How to reach:
By Air: The nearest airport is the Madurai International Airport at a distance of 115 km from the city.
By train: Palani station is the nearest railway junction which is 64 km from Kodaikanal. Other nearby stations are Kodaikanal Road Station(80 km), Dindigul Junction (100 km) and Madurai Junction(114 km).
By road: Frequent buses ply to Kodaikanal from Palani, Madurai, and Dindigul.
At the heart of the town, Kodaikanal Lake — a star-shaped artificial lake is one of the most popular landmarks and tourist attractions of Kodaikanal. Constructed in 1863 by an erstwhile British officer, Sir Vere Henry Levinge, the tranquility around the lake is astounding. Surrounding the lake are the lush green hills of the Palani range. Kurinji flower that blooms once in 12 years is found in the nearby hills. Walking along the serene lake gives a sense of utter peace to the soul.
Tourists engage in several activities like boating, cycle rides, horse rides in the vicinity of the lake. Fishing and swimming are also allowed after obtaining proper permission from the authorities.
Amidst the exquisite mountains of Kodaikanal, Coaker’s walk — almost a kilometer long — is a narrow pedestrian path, running along the steep slopes of the hill town. Strolling along the path is quite relaxing and refreshing. On cloudless days, one gets a wide-angle spectacular view of the verdant green valleys. Once the mist clears, the interesting sight of Dolphin’s nose, Pamber River, Periyukulam and even Madurai city is a visual treat to the eyes.
According to the weather conditions, some lucky ones can witness their own shadow in the clouds with the halo of a rainbow, when the sun is opposite to the mist. This is known as the ‘Brachem Spectre’.
Silver Cascade Falls
Around 8 km from the town, Silver Cascade Falls is an alluring sight along the Kodaikanal-Madurai highway. Dropping from a whopping height of 180 ft, Silver Cascade Falls is the result of excess water flowing out of the Kodaikanal lake. The sight of silvery water thrashing into a heaving pool is stunning. The rugged rock formations and verdant foliage around the falls are a delight to the eyes. When the weather is apt, showering at the falls is quite refreshing.
Standing shoulder to shoulder amidst the untouched packet of dense forests, Pillar Rocks are three vertical granite boulders, measuring almost 400 ft from the ground. Offering a bird’s eye view of the landscaped vistas, the rocks stand tall among the fog and mist. The chamber between the pillars is known as Devil’s Kitchen. The shady woods under the shadow of the rocks is a popular picnic spot. Also, a small garden nearby, blooming with seasonal flowers, adds to the charm of the place.
Adding to the serenity of Kodaikanal, Bryant Park is bejeweled with various species of shrubs, plants, and trees. Housing over 325 species of trees, cactuses, and shrubs, this park appears like a gorgeous rainbow when all its flowers bloom. One section of the park is exclusively dedicated to exotic roses, where nearly 700 varieties of the species can be found. It is a popular picnic spot amongst families.
Flower shows and horticultural exhibits are organized every summer, attracting countless visitors from different parts of the state and beyond. Ornamental plants nurtured in the nursery are available for purchase to the tourists visiting the park.