The word “whimsical” really comes to life in a place like Kodaikanal. Not often do you get to whiff fresh air by the abundance. Not often do you get to take nature walks and appreciate the beauty we are surrounded by and certainly not often do you get to absorb the serenity of a place. But Kodaikanal provides all this and more.
Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT hotels
Kodaikanal has always been special for us, but this time we received extra warmth from GRT Hotels, as we were hosted for a bloggers meet at GReaT Trails by GRT Hotels at Kodaikanal. GRT has proved time and again that hospitality is their forte and this time was no different. They left no stone unturned to make this trip as memorable as possible. Thank you GRT for the warmth and hospitality.
There is something special about blue sky and green meadows
THE GEOGRAPHY LESSON!
Kodaikanal is a quaint hill station in eastern Tamil Nadu surrounded by Palini hills. Located near Madurai, it provides the ideal weekend getaway for couples and nature lovers alike! It is described as the “princess of hill stations” and is one of the most scenic places in India.
But Kodaikanal for us is something else altogether. Canvassing cliffs, the aroma of tea, freshness in the air and nostalgia best describe this place for us. Most of Vivek’s childhood vacations were spent lollygagging around Kodaikanal so much so that we call him the local guide of Kodai. Our unofficial google maps. Having said that, on this trip we discovered new places, quaint towns, lesser known lakes and forests, and landscapes which looked straight out of Europe. It’s amazing how this quaint little hill station has so much to offer. It seems to be human nature that we are intrigued by things that are distant, while often overlooking fascinating treasures in our own country. Even after numerous trips to kodaikanal we keep falling in love with “kodai” all over again.
The hills are alive with sound of music
The cold mannequin
HIT THE ROAD!
Winding roads, facading ghats, and lush greenery fill the field of view as you drive from Madurai to Kodaikanal. Occasional breaks for monkeys, the natives to pass by and you hit the road again. Nothing quiet compares to the misty mountains and scent of eucalyptus wafting through the air. This is how we landed up in Kodaikanal.
The charm of embracing a green blanket around you.
THE WELCOME and THE STAY!
GReaT Trails is a vast and beautiful property placed right in the lap of nature accenting its beauty and ambiance. Magnificent British style wooden chalets oozing elegance, with flower bedecked balconies greeted us graciously as we set foot in our rooms. Picturesque views of the valley and sumptuous food made the stay even better. I enjoyed my crisp ‘podi-dosa’ and masala chai while Viv loved his eggs and poha for breakfast.Lunch was a delectable Indian affair and dinner, a perfect mix of international and local flavors.
Our cozy Timber Chalet
The quaint and charming Whistler’s Cafe
As night sets in..
Being nature lovers, we loved waking up early to the sound of chirping birds and sipping tea wrapped in light woolens. The clouds and mist kept playing pee-ka-boo with the mountains, and as the sun came up, the mist cleared and the entire valley unraveled before our eyes.
Misty morning -view from our room
Frolicking in the rain
I never met a sunset i didn’t like
Breakfast overlooking the cliffs at whistler’s cafe including a widespread and delicious menu and a trek consequently, sounds amusing right? Well, the experience was more than amazing!
Elephant valley trek
It is a must try you a nature person. Lined with lush green fields and trees on either side, we crossed small villages, met a few locals, who were on their way to work. We continued our trek but stopped every five minutes to soak in the view. The trek ends at the view point of the elephant valley; silhouetting cliffs and the vast horizon embrace you with open arms and suck you right into the world of bewilderment. The trek bore fruit, literally, as we munched on some fresh pears at the end of the trek.
Only the wind knows where it will carry our dandelion souls.
The start of the trek
It is not everyday that you are chased by a goat!!
Mandatory trek picture
Already chased by a goat, Viv trying his luck with the lonely horse.
This gorgeous view was worth the trek
You & I
A “fruitful” trek
The warm and friendly locals
THE FAIRYTALE FANTASY!
White picket fence and strawberry fields, straight out of a Victorian poem came to life at Kodaikanal as we were granted entry into GRT’s strawberry fields and had the opportunity to pick fresh strawberries and exotic seasonal vegetables like broccoli and capsicum. The jeep drive to reach the strawberry farm was thrilling as well. Did we mention the view of the mountains and valley from the strawberry farm is spectacular?
At the strawberry farm
A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles
GOD AND GOOD FOOD!
Not every day do you get to see a 3000 year old temple and certainly not everyday do we get to eat by the lake. The poomparai kuzhandhai vellapar temple, a 3000 year old shrine for Lord Muruga, managed by the same administration as the Pazhani Malai Murugan temple has rich history behind it. It is said that a mystical substance has been buried in this temple which when combined with other rare artifacts can cure any illness in the world. Fascinating stuff!
A quick stop at the village of Mannavanur – an ideal picnic spot with carpets of rolling grasslands and meadows. We happily munched our sandwiches while admiring the beauty of this place. We also visited Sheep and rabbit farm, where scientists work on sheep and rabbit development programmes.
Berijam lake on the facade of the Berijam forest epitomized scenic beauty and serenity and to have lunch by the lake was a dream come true. What was better was that there were like minded people, the fellow bloggers and friends who made lunch special. Every minute with the bloggers has been a gratifying and enlightening experience which we will cherish for ages.
Lunch scene by the lake
Post lunch we drove to the Kodaikanal forest, which is a restricted area. Prior permission is needed to gain entry to this forest. Driving around the forest gave us a sense of calmness; we spotted flying squirrels, Nilgiris langurs, monkeys and bison on our way! The monkey seemed thirsty and jumped on our car only to walk away with the water bottle. Boss in their own territory!
Placid waters of Berijam Lake
Into the wild
Sholas of Kodaikanal
The mist covered Sholas
The lonely guy
BONFIRE and MEMORIES!
The drive back makes you fall in love with off-road driving, the slow life and the beauty of nature. The hustle and bustle of the city is tiresome, anybody visiting Kodaikanal from a metropolitan city and a monotonous life will get cozy and comfortable with the slow, leisurely life the people at Kodaikanal enjoy. Yes, we feel you; bonfire and karaoke music would’ve been amazing right? Oh wait, we had that too! The team at GReaT Trails made sure that we experienced live barbecue alongside a bonfire. The karaoke show was more memorable as all of us tried to sing our hearts out and failed miserably which was insanely fun!
Bonfire and endless memories
Amidst all this and fun and frolic it was time for Ziplining. An adventure activity, which will get you pumped up and excited! GReaT Trails offers a plethora of such activities to keep you engaged and on your feet. It is the longest Zip line in South India. They also offer Swinging Bridge, Burma Bridge, Earthquake Walk, Charlie Chaplin, and Valley crossing which is sure to give you an adrenaline rush.
A long day ended with a good night’s sleep, and waking up to the sound of rustling leaves and chirping birds just to enjoy some hot aromatic tea! It was time to head back home but with fond memories of our all time favourite “kodai”.
Tea time is always a good time!
We are grateful to GRT Hotels and Resorts for having hosted us at their property and for giving us first class treatment, your hospitality as always, is unmatched. Also, our fellow blogger friends, the trip wouldn’t have been half as fun if not for you all. Thanks for being a part of this experience.
How to reach?
Madurai (120 km)
Trichy (150 km)
Coimbatore (175 km)
Nearest Railway station:
Kodai Road (80kms)
Madurai (120 km)
Regular bus services are available from the cities of Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Madurai.