Kodaikanal – Gift Of The Forest

The word Kodaikanal simply means the gift of the forest. Newlyweds love this destination for nature’s bounty. The most popular place is the Kodaikanal Lake. It is half a kilometer from the main bus stand. This charming lake you see here is man-made and it is the product of the diligent effort put in by Mr. Bier Leverage. It was built in the year 1863. This tourist attraction is a landmark here. For a nominal fee you could avail of row boats and pedal boats at the boat club, which is in close proximity to Kodaikanal’s only five star hotel. People desirous of going cycling or horse back riding may hire the services here.

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Bryant Park is a must visit for tourists in Kodaikanal. This too is conveniently close to the bus stand at a distance of half a kilometer. Here you will find a well crafted botanical garden. It is named after H.D. Bryant who designed and executed it in the year 1908. It has an extensive collection of 325 species of trees, shrubs and cactuses. The park has a spectacular array of flowers in all their majestic glory. You will find an assortment of 740 varieties of roses here. One of the Eucalyptus trees here is almost 150 years old. The plant lovers can purchase attractive plants at the nursery. During the summer festival in May the park coordinates horticultural exhibits and flower shows. It is open all year round and a nominal fee is charged to enter the park.

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Three colossal rock pillars 400 feet high form the Pillar Rocks. This place is a tourist attraction flocked by throngs of sightseers. Guna caves, which were formerly known as Devil’s kitchen is within the confines of the Pillar Rocks. Masses of bats dwell in these caves. The path leading to the caves is narrow and fairly dangerous hence it has been closed to the public. You can only view them from a distance.

You could take a quiet stroll down Coaker’s Walk. This road is basically a path cut out on the periphery of the sheer inclines of mount Nebo. This path offers a view of the astonishing landscape of the plains. If you visit on a clear day you can catch sight of Dolphin’s nose, Madurai, Periyakulam town and even the Pambar River. Here you could witness an intriguing wonder of nature. You could see your own shadow on the clouds with a rainbow halo. This phenomenon is called Broken Spectre. It transpires when the clouds are to the front of you while the sun is behind.

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Silver Cascade is situated in the stretched out meandering Law Ghat Road. You will find a waterfall here 180 feet high. This remarkable waterfall is popular with tourists on their first visit. Beware of the monkeys here!

Shenbaganur Museum of Natural History was established in 1895 and houses more than 300 species of exotic orchids and a marvelous taxidermy anthology of insects, birds and animals. Here you will find primeval artifacts belonging to the Palaiyar tribes.

Bear Shola Falls is at a distance of 2 miles from the bus stand. The waterfall situated in a reserve forest is a sight to behold.

Green Valley View overlooks the Vaigai Dam. The view from here is par excellence. It used to be called Suicide point in the past. This place is close to the golf course.

Dolphin’s Nose is a flat rock ledge overlooking a magnificent abyss, which is 2000 meters deep. This is another fine example of nature’s splendor. The sights of the plains here are breathtaking. The access road to Pambar Falls runs through this place.

If you have the time and inclination you could visit the Annamalai wildlife sanctuary which is not too far from Kodaikanal. This wildlife sanctuary is situated on the slopes of the Western Ghats along the borders of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.  It is now called the Indira Gandhi wildlife sanctuary. You will find elephants, tigers, spotted deer, wild boar panthers, wild bison, porcupine and civet cats. You could even spot several birds here. Parambikulam Dam is located in this beautiful forested expanse. All in all, Kodaikanal is a must see hill station!

History and tourist information on Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is a popular hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu in the southern part of India. It is one of the smaller hill stations covering an area of 21.45 square kilometers. The local languages spoken here are Tamil and English. Since it is situated at a height of 2133 meters above sea level, the weather here is quite pleasant. The best time to visit would be from April to June and from September to October.

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Evidence has been found to support the fact that Kodaikanal was home to prehistoric tribes. These tribes were called Paliyans and Pulyans. Later the villagers of Palani settled in the Kodai hills. Lieutenant B. S. Ward was the first European to visit Kodaikanal in 1821. Back in the old days several missionaries came here to flee the heat in Tamil Nadu. Many of these British and American missionaries erected permanent houses up here. Kodaikanal got its first church in the year 1860.

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Kodaikanal was made accessible by the railways in the year 1875 from Chennai and Madhurai. A number of tourists visited from far off places as a result of this facility. It was much later in the year 1914 that a road was constructed. But it was only in 1916 that it was used. Before all this came about Kodaikanal mostly attracted visitors only from Madurai. It was a precipitous and arduous ascent. Another route however was from Periakulam to Kistnamma Naik Tope by road via bullock carts and Rom Tope through the hills. This route was known as Coolie Ghat Road. Alternatively people could hire palanquins lugged by hired hands. Another mode was riding atop ponies. However there was a great risk as they were plundered by dacoits. Conversely they feared attacks from wild animals such as panthers, bison and elephants etc.

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In current times one can travel there much more comfortably. It is well connected to all the major towns by regular bus services. Once could travel from Dindigul (62 miles), Madurai (84 miles), Bangalore Kodai road, Thiruchirappalli (124 miles), Theni, Kumuli, Palani (40 miles), Kodai road (50 miles) and Coimbatore (106 miles). The railway station is at a distance of almost 80 kilometers.

Kodaikanal is renowned for the beauty of the ancient churches here. Resplendent in Christian glory and heritage there is a church called Mother Salette built as far back as 133 years ago. A unique carnival is held here on 14th and 15th August every year. Worshippers from all parts of South India attend this fest each year.

Father Louis Saint Ceer was responsible for building Mother Salette church. He was the first catholic priest to arrive at Kodaikanal. The first time he arrived here was in the year 1852. It took him four days to reach on horseback. He went away only to return in the year 1860. The reason for his return was specifically to construct the Mother Salette church. It so happened, in the year 1958, Father Saint Ceer became ill. He prayed to the Lady of La Salette and recovered soon after. That’s when he pledged he would construct the church in honor of Lady La Salette. Interesting story, isn’t it!

Shopping in Kodaikanal

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

Videos Of Kodaikanal

A flavour of Kodaikanal:

This is a beautiful video that starts with a bird chirping, shot in closeup. It then shows mountains covered with clouds. This is followed by folks boating in the lake.
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Misty Kodaikanal:

This video actually shows the misty clouds moving at a high speed.

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Kodaikanal International School Experience

This video gives details of the famous KIS.

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Map Of Kodaikanal

Below is the map of Kodaikanal. Use the scroller to enlarge.
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