Kodaikanal (Kodai) is a picturesque hill station in TamilNadu. It is located in the famous Palani Hills in Western Ghats and is known as the Princess of hill stations. It’s name in the Tamil language means “The Gift of the Forest”. Situated at about 7,200 feet above sea level it is the most sought after hill station and honeymoon destination in South India . Not only is Kodai famous for its breathtaking scenery and serenity, but is also home for rich flora and fauna. It is an ideal place to enjoy a weekend with your friends and family.There are lots of places of tourist interest and activities that one can indulge in.
The main attractions at Kodaikanal are Silver cascade falls,Pillar Rocks,Guna Caves also known as the devil’s kitchen,Kodaikanal Lake,Pine Forest, Coakers Walk,Bearshola falls,Dolphin’s Nose and Berijam Lake. I would also recommend Mannavannur Lake which is is a beautiful landscape situated 35kms from Kodaikanal town (1 hours drive but its just awesome!!!!).
Getting there and around
Kodaikanal is well connected by road with all important towns. Regular bus services are available from Madurai, Palani, Kodai Road, Theni, Dindigul, Thiruchirappalli, Kumuli, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Chennai. It is also a pleasure driving up and around this picturesque hill station and I truly enjoyed driving around the place.
Kodaikanal Distance Chart
Trivandrum- 342km | Cochin-301km | Bangalore-463km | Chennai-504km | Madurai-116km | Coimbatore-172km | Kumuli-158km | Theni-86km |
Things to do
The main activities you can indulge in are trekking, cycling,boating,rowing, fishing,horse riding, rock climbing (you need to carry your gear and also get the permission from the forest office) and romantic strolls through the pine forest and around the kodai lake.
Things to carry
- Food /Snacks (There are good hotels and cafetieres too. I spotted coffee day and Dominos )
- Salt (To fight leaches at Berinjam Lake)
- Woolen clothes, thick socks and shoes
Trivandrum Kodaikanal – A weekend trip
It has been long since I had been for an outing.So as the weekend was nearing I started planning for a weekend getaway to Kodaikanal with my family. My cousin and her husband also joined me for the trip. We decided to take leave on friday and make this a three day trip. We choose to drive all the way from Trivandrum to Kodaikanal (411km) via Nagercoil. The reason for choosing this route was to drive through NH7 and to reach Kodai in the shortest possible time-frame (and also to evade the cameras that has been put up along NH47) .
The plan was to start off early on friday by 5am,cover the Trivandrum- Nagercoil-Kavalkiner strech without any major delay or traffic blocks,take the service road to enter NH7, drive up to Pallapatti and take the devaiation to Kodai Ghat to reach Kodaikanal in 5 hours time.
Day 1 (Trivandrum -Kodaikanal)
We fell short of our plan, due to a last minute call from office and started off by 2pm. We covered the Trivandrum-Nagercoil-Kavelkinar strech in three and half hours , halted at Kavelkinar for a tea and entered NH7 by 5.30pm. The car (my cousin’s Skoda Laura) was on steroids from then on, cruising at speeds of 130km/hour. The road reminded me of the ones I had seen in middle east and a speciman that the Kerala PWD and planning board needs to review prior to implementing cameras, safe corridor projects and leving fines and making a fool out of the common man. We turned left and took the Ammaiyanaickanur – Vathalagundu road after Pandiarajapuran and in an hours time we reached the Kodai Ghat road. This part of the stretch was a bumpy ride with construction activities going on. We turned right to take the Kodai Ghat road after Ganguvarapatty. It was almost 8:30pm by then and Kodaikanal was 53kms ahead of us.
Day 2 ( Pillar Rocks-GunaCaves- Coakers Walk -Pine Foest- Mannavannur Lake)
Got up early by 7am on Saturday. The weather was cold but bearable and it was then that we got the first glimpses of Kodai from our balcony. I could see the beautiful mountains, lust greenery and fog at a distance. After a hot bath and breakfast from the hotel we headed towards Pillar Rocks by 8am. Pillar Rocks are huge masses of stones (set of three gigantic boulders standing adjacent to each other) of 500 feet height towering upwards. It is said that there are several caves below and in-between the rocks.The rocks are surrounded by lush green forests and are often covered in cold mist. This adds up the beauty and serenity of this place.
We spent half an hour at the view point admiring the beauty of the rocks and the surroundings and after some photoshoot we headed towards Guna caves, also know as the devil’s kitchen.
Guna Cave is formed between two Pillar Rocks in Kodaikanal.From outside, with mist and fog, it appears as if the devil is cooking and hence the name Devils kitchen.Devil’s Kitchen got the name Guna Caves after the KamalHassan’s film “Guna”. Access to the cave is currently not allowed and cordoned off due to a high number of deaths recorded. Guna Caves is undoubtedly one of the main attraction of Kodaikanal but it comes with a bit of danger, if you are planning to go down to the caves. It is very much safe to visit the starting point from where you take the downward trail to the caves. There are also good trekking paths from the starting point towards the pine forests.We choose to take one such trail and after walking for around 3-4kms ended up in the pine forest. From there you can walk up the main road to the entrance of Guna Caves.
Along the trail we get to see the valley as such, the mouth of guna caves, the mist taking over the valley and also unexpected peak into the wildlife. Be careful on carrying food with you as you could be attacked my monkeys. It is safe to carry a stick or a log to protect yourself as they come in groups. I was kind of unexpectedly taken by a gang attack and had to surrender my water bottle to save myself, after which I got hold of a log for self defense. Then on things were just fine.
From here we headed towards the famous Coakers Walk, which is a paved pathway that extends for a kilometer.This was built by Lt.Coaker in the year 1872 and gives visitors a picturesque view of the plains and the scenic valley.The best time to visit this place is before 2pm as the mist sets in and covers up the valley in the afternoons. This is an ideal place for a morning walk. There is a telescopic view house which gives an arial view of the valley. After reaching the end of the pathway we walked back to the entrance, took a peak at the arial view of the valley and headed back to the car. It was almost 2pm and all of us were really hungry. We dropped in at Hilltop Inn restaurant to have our lunch. I din’t like the non-veg dishes as they weren’t spicy but the vegetarian dishes were a delight.
Post lunch we he had planned to visit the Pine forest and Berijam Lake, but it was after reaching the check-post (to Berijam) that we realized that prior permissions had to be taken from the Kodaikanal District Forest Office to visit the place and it was too late for that. So we headed towards the pine forest. Pine forests are one of the preserved treasures of Kodaikanal that would mesmerize all by its ambiance.
Clueless on where to go next we drove ahead and came cross the sigh board to Mannavanur. We decided to check out the place on the cue from my brother-in-law that it is a beautiful place. The road towards Mannavanur was bumpy and broken at regular intervals (road repairs were progressing). The road ran through the middle of a forest and it seemed like we were the only ones around. The drive was refreshing and nature was at it best. After a couple of stops and taking the help of the local people we finally reached the place by 5pm.Mannavanur is a beautiful village situated at a distance of 35km from kodaikanal. It is a scenic place with the Mannavarur lake ( a fresh water lake) at it’s center and surrounded by beautiful grasslands and natural landscapes. It was awesomely scenic, quiet and to our surprise we were the only people out there. We spend a an hour there, sitting and admiring the untouched beauty of the place. As the daylight began to fade we headed back to Kodaikanal and reached our hotel by 8pm. After a cold bath ( was bitterly cold, as there was no hot water supply in the evening) and a sumptuous dinner we crept behind our blankets to have a well deserved sleep.
Day 3 ( Kodaikanal Lake - Berijam Lake – Back to Trivandrum)
We woke up early the next day as we had to rush to the District Forest Office to secure the permits for visiting Berijam Lake . We reached the office by 8am and, to our surprise a big queue was already in line. We managed to get the permit. It costs Rs100 per vehicle. We just had couple of hours left and din’t want to waste even a minute. We decided to start off the day from Kodai Lake. Kodai Lake is undoubtedly one of the most favourite and highly visited places in kodaikanal.It is a man-made lake that is spread over 60 acres and surrounded by a fine tarred road of 5 kms.The lake hosts lots of activities like boating,fishing, horse riding, rowing and cycling. We hired a double seater cycle and started out to explore the lake and the surroundings. Cycling around the lake road was fun and it took us nearly half an hour to circle the lake. After that we headed to the boat club. We hired a pedal boat and went round the lake for half an hour before returning it back to the club.We bought home made chocolates and some handicrafts from there and headed towards the city. We stopped by Dominos to get some pizza and chicken wings for lunch and headed straight to Berijam Lake
Berijam Lake is an attractive picnic spot located 23km from the Kodaikanal City. It is a massive fresh water lake and is the main source of water for Kodaikanal city.You would definitely encounter wildlife if you are amongst the first to cross the check-post to Berijam lake.Tourists are allowed to stay in Berijam till 3pm.One our way to the lake we dropped by couple of view points but due to the fog missed out seeing the beauty of the place. We reached Berijam Lake by 10am and it was already crowded. We walked around seeing the place. Frankly I din’t feel Berijam Lake as beautiful as it is talked about, I would rather give my thumbs up for Mannavanur Lake.
After having lunch from there ( the cheesy pizzas) we headed back to Kodai City. We reached there by 4pm and started our onward journey back to Trivandrum. The traffic was horrible (probably due to weekend) and it took us almost two hours to drive past the place.On the way we bought some Sabarjellies (Green apples). We got it at good prices. We took the same route back and in a couple of hours cleared the Kodai ghat road to enter NH7 and later NH47. We reached Trivandrum by 1am.
Be it family or friends, Kodaikanal has got the right mix for all. Blessed with the natural beauty, awesomely wonderful climate, hospitality of the native people and the drive of the administration kodai tops the charts of the favorite tourist destination in South India. I would definitely recommend you to mark Kodaikanal for your next weekend trip. Ping me if you need any further info regarding the places mentioned.