Kodaikanal – Places to Visit and Things to do
Kodaikanal is rightly dubbed as the “Gift of the Forests”. One understands this analogy even before one sets foot in the place as you travel across a road winding through lush, verdant forests. Kodaikanal, a hill station in Tamil Nadu, India is an ideal weekend getaway for city dwellers who wish to lose themselves in the lap of nature and experience Nirvana of sorts, away from the stress and strain of the rat race that modern life has turned into.
Kodaikanal has much to offer, both in terms of a standard tourist drill as well as off the beaten track activities for the more discerning or adventurous. Thanks to the hospitality of Great Trails by GRT Hotels, we were able to experience a host of experiences that your normal traveler or should we say tourist would not experience.
This post is about these experiences, however, we are by no means implying that the attractions and experiences that form the standard itinerary for a visit to Kodaikanal are less appealing. In fact, we have ourselves experienced these attractions in earlier trips and actually have listed out the standard must see places of Kodaikanal in addition to our offbeat experiences.
What you must see and experience in Kodaikanal – Best Places to Visit
1. Kodaikanal Lake
The Kodaikanal lake which is man made and created in 1863 by the then collector of Madurai is indeed the epicenter of Kodaikanal. It is the most popular tourist destination in Kodaikanal and is a hive of activity. Boating, cycling, and horse riding are the activities in and around the lake. One can buy local spices, eucalyptus oil and home made chocolates in the shops that line the periphery of the lake.
Tip: The area in and around the lake tends to get too crowded for comfort, especially on weekends and public holidays.
2. Bryant Park
This is a botanical garden with a wide variety of flowers and plants and is situated very near the Kodaikanal Lake. A great lung space where families can enjoy together, the park also offers some amazing views of the valley. The park that stretches over 20 acres was built by H.D.Bryant, the Collector of Madurai in 1908.
3. Coakers Walk
This is an enchanting and narrow mountain road that cuts across steep slopes and offers stunning views of the valley. An early morning walk here is a magical experience and sure to set the tone for the day. In winters, the walk affords an opportunity to experience the mist.
4. Pillar Rocks
The Pillar Rocks have virtually become a visual symbol of Kodaikanal. Two huge pillar shaped rocks stand in majestic splendor towering over the valley and make for a grand, natural spectacle. During winters the Pillar Rocks seem to be shrouded in an aura of mystery as they get engulfed by mist. A trip to Kodaikanal is incomplete without seeing the beautiful Pillar rocks!
5. Pine Forests
A visit to the Pine Forests is a must. A stretch of forest graced by the beautiful presence of lines and lines of Pine trees. The Pine forest is the fruit of the labor of H.D.Bryant who was also instrumental in establishing the Bryant Park which is named after him.
6. Bear Shola Falls
These are seasonal water falls and are also known as Silver Cascade. They are in full flow after the monsoon and make for a great experience, especially if water falls fascinate you. Many years ago, bears were known to come here in search of drinking water and hence the name. Of course, those days are gone and you will not see any bears around this waterfall now.
Things to do in Kodaikanal – Off Beat Experiences that you must experience in Kodaikanal
7. Wander amongst the Undulating Potato Farms
The fact that we were staying in Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels which nestles snugly amidst potato farms in a valley surrounded by hills was a great blessing. In the evening, when the wind assumed a chill that one usually experiences in the mountains, we set off on a walk that took us amidst potato farms that had green short shrubs of Potato neatly stacked row upon row, they were similar to sloped tea gardens and were a visual treat for eyes more habituated to the traffic and chaos of the urban jungle.
8. Listen to the Whispers of the Drifting Clouds
As we walked beyond the potato farms, we reached a stretch of land that afforded a stunning view of the valley. The hills in the distance seemed to be smeared with dashes of white which moved slowly, they were actually clouds drifting merrily away without the bother of having to think where or how to get to wherever they were going.
As we stood watching the dance of the clouds, apart from the sound of the wind there was a blissful silence. We reveled in the moment of absolute peace as currents of bliss enveloped us. At that moment the clouds seemed to whisper softly in our ears, “this is heaven, this is heaven.”
9. Trek up the Hills to Elephant Valley View
Kodaikanal is a haven for nature lovers. If waking up early to the symphony of chirping birds and heading out into the great outdoors just as the first rays of the sun kiss the ground, is right up your alley, then Kodaikanal is the place for you.
One of the relatively easy and beautiful treks is to a rock high up in the hills which offer stunning views of the Elephant Valley and the Palani temple in the distance.
As you ascend the hills you are flanked by breathtaking views of the valley on your right and one can feel the spring in your step as you inhale the fragrant and unalloyed air of the mountains.
And then you reach this small rock that stands precariously overlooking the Elephant Valley below. As you stand looking down at the land stretches below you feel that the world is lying at your feet!
As you peer over the edge this is the scene that you behold.
10. Cavort with Horses
This place abounds in horses, who are a beautiful sight against the green backdrop, sadly some of them had their legs tied to prevent them wandering far away by their owners. This beautiful horse who gave a stylish pose neighed heartrendingly to let him free. 🙁
11. Feast on Peaches plucked straight off the trees
On our hike to the Elephant Valley view point, we passed through many peach farms and had the raw pleasure of feasting on some ripe peaches which tasted heavenly.
12. Interact with Locals
It was early on a Saturday morning and these ladies were off to work on the farms with their lunches packed and sitting neatly on their heads. They looked really happy and posed shyly for a picture.
13. Visit a Strawberry Farm
We visited a strawberry farm for the first time and really enjoyed looking at the small green shrubs with gleaming red strawberries.
The strawberry farms are owned by Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels and hence visiting them was an exclusive privilege.
14. Visit a 3000-year-old temple in a picturesque village
A scenic drive deep into the heart of the Palani hills, 18 kilometers here takes you to a picturesque village called Poombarai. The village is captivating and the center of attraction is a lovely temple which has a history that can be traced back 3000 years. The idol of Lord Muruga is said to have been consecrated by a Tamil Siddhar called Bogar.
15. Visit the Picturesque Manavannur Lake
A 34-kilometer drive from here on a road flanked by Eucalyptus and Pine trees takes you to the village of Manavannur. Inside the Manavannur Eco Tourism Site (a Tamilnadu Biodiversity Conservation and Greening Project) is situated a beautiful lake set amidst lush green meadows and flanked by hills in the background. a serene place to get close to nature.
16. Have A Picnic Lunch by the side of the Manavannur Lake
Small Picnic huts grace the banks of the lake. These huts can be used for having your lunch.
We had a full fledged and grand buffet lunch set up for us on the banks of the lake, courtesy Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels.
17. Counting Sheep at the Manavannur Eco Tourism Site
Watch the famed Merino sheep which have their origins in Spain but are widely reared in Australia and New Zealand at the sheep farm.
The Merino sheep have the finest wool and they do not have horns.
18. Be enthralled by the Beautiful Berijam Lake
A beautiful lake which is so tranquil that it seems to be located somewhere beyond the realms of imagination. However, it is about 21 kilometers from here and is a restricted place. Entry with permission from the Forest Department in Kodaikanal is allowed between 9.30 Am to 3.00 PM.
However, a limited number of people only are given entry on any given day. When we were there we were the only people around and as we gazed at the placid waters of the lake, the sun partially slid behind the clouds creating a mesmerizing effect of light and shade on the waters of the lake.
19. Drive Deep into the Forests of Kodaikanal to spot Wildlife
The sound of our car was the only sound that could be heard as we drove deep into the dense forests of Kodaikanal, we had special permission to enter the forest, thanks to Great trails by GRT Hotels.
As we drove in silence, we craned our necks out of the windows, in excited anticipation with the hope of spotting wildlife.
We were not disappointed as we were able to spot a Giant Grizzled Squirrel, some wild Buffaloes and Black Monkeys also known as Nilgiri Langurs.
20. Be Amazed by multiple Eco Systems at one place
When you drive deep into the forests of Kodaikanal, you will reach a spot where multiple ecosystems seem to seamlessly merge. Grasslands seem to brush shoulders with rain forests and Montane tropical forests also known as Sholas locally. A few moment spent in the hypnotizing silence of these forests is sure to remain etched in once being for a lifetime.
Some Useful Information
How to Get to Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal is located in the Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. It is about 527 kilometers from Chennai and 464 kilometers from Bangalore. The nearest airport is Madurai which is about 120 kilometers away. One can fly to Madurai and then travel by road. Madurai is well connected by air to the major cities of India. Alternately one can take a bus from Bangalore or Chennai. One can reach Kodaikanal by train, one needs to alight at a small station called Kodaikanal Road and then travel by road for 80 kilometers uphill to reach Kodaikanal.
Where to Stay at Kodaikanal
This place has a host of accommodation options to suit every need and budget. There are many hotels in Kodaikanal across budget ranges. There are many Kodaikanal resorts that offer a lovely stay in the mountains. Some of the Kodaikanal hotels offer beautiful valley views. The choice of Kodaikanal hotels includes a range of hostels and homestays. For a luxurious, unique and rejuvenating stay, we would recommend staying at The Great Trails by GRT Hotels.
When to visit Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal has a moderate climate throughout the year and one can plan a trip there any time of the year to get different experiences. The monsoon is the off-season, however, if you want to immerse yourselves in the romance of the rains, we recommend to get there and get wet in the rains. Also, it is preferable to avoid long weekends when the main town tends to get a little too crowded.
Places near Kodaikanal
- Madurai, a major pilgrimage place in South India is 114 kilometers away
- Kanya Kumari, the southernmost tip of India
- Rameshwaram, an important pilgrimage center of the Hindus
- Dhanushkodi, a ghost town swept away in tsunami
- Valparai, a secluded and lesser known hill station of Tamil Nadu
- Thanjavur which is also known as Tanjore is famous for art, architecture, and paintings
- Tiruchirapalli which is also known as Trichy which is another temple town
- Palani, a hill on which is located a famous temple dedicated to Lord Muruga and is visited by 7 million pilgrims every year
A Kodaikanal trip can be planned with a two-day itinerary so that you can cover it over the weekend. 2 days in Kodaikanal will enable you to visit most if not all of the places to visit in Kodaikanal, however, to really enjoy and slowly relish your Kodaikanal trip experience, we recommend that you plan a longer stay in Kodaikanal. Natural beauty and adventure activities will make a 2 day trip to Kodaikanal from Bangalore an ideal weekend getaway from Bangalore and other urban centers.
Have you been to Kodaikanal? What was the experience that you liked most in the gift of the forest?