Kodaikanal is known for its vegetables and fruits, for their juiciness and flavor. The weather here is conducive to cultivate vegetables and fruits. The cauliflowers, potatoes and other vegetables even appeal to the tourists. The fruits in spotlight here are plums, pears, grapes and peaches. Furthermore one would find coffee from the coffee estates. Flowers, eucalyptus trees, wattles and pine thrive in Kodaikanal. Some of the flowers grown locally are the Dahlias and the sweet smelling Madonna lilies.
Kodaikanal mainly depends on tourists for a source of revenue. They have flourishing businesses selling the above mentioned vegetables, fruits and flowers in the local markets. Since this is their sole means for a livelihood they strive to exhibit their supplies so that they appeal to the tourists. They are very particular in cleaning and arranging the merchandise. They also sell woolen articles, medicinal herbs and oils, children’s toys, handmade objects, hot snacks, edibles such as cheese, muffins, peanut, butter, brown bread and jams. There is a range of gifts, mementoes and souvenirs that one could pick up. Anna Salai is popular for leather goods, brass items, walnut wood articles and jewelry.
However in the more recent years the hotel business has seen a sudden increase and this has given rise to other vocations, such as all kinds of hotel staff including managers, waiters, cooks, room boys and gardeners etc.
One could go shopping at PT road where you could avail of Kashmiri merchandise. There is also the Potter’s Shed where you could collect delicate ceramics. Sometimes you might also come across Tibetans selling warm attire such as shawls and other fabrics at reasonable rates on the road leading south to the lake. Anna Salai has a great cottage crafts shop which is operated by CORSOCK (Co-ORdinating council for SOcial Concerns in Kodaikanal).
An interesting fact about Kodaikanal is that it holds the distinction of being the only hill station in India established during the Raj by Americans. Nonetheless the British didn’t take long to follow them here. In fact, the prestigious Kodaikanal International School here was set up by the American missionaries around 1845.