In the Palani Hills of Western ghats, lies a small Hilltop town Kodaikanal, popularly termed as “Princess of Hills”. The town is situated in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu.
Kodaikanal means “Gift of the forest” and true to its name, it is covered with thick forests of eucalyptus, cypress, acacia and Shola. The Hill location and the forest surrounding together makes Kodaikanal, a must-visit destination for nature lovers. However, it is not just the Hills and forest that makes Kodaikanal special, some other locations in the Town add to its charm. Added to this is the hospitality offered by the citizens living in the Town which makes it easier for the tourist to explore the locale handily.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- History of Kodaikanal
- Places to visit
- Kodai lake
- Berijam lake
- Mannavanur lake
- Coaker’s walk
- Moir point
- Green Valley View
- Pambar Falls
- Chettiar Park
- Pillar Rocks
- Vattakanal Falls
- Pine Forests
- Astrophysical observatory/ Kodaikanal Solar Observatory
- Kurinji Andavar Murugan Temple
- Shembaganur Museum of Natural History
- Wax Museum
- Ways to Reach Kodaikanal
- How to reach Kodaikanal via airport?
- How to reach it via Road?
- How to reach it via Railways?
- Frequently Asked Questions
History of Kodaikanal
The Kodaikanal town finds its earliest mentions in the Sangam literature, the ancient Tamil literature work. The region was inhabited by prehistoric tribes of paliyans and puliyans, who had fled the town because of Tipu sultan’s fear in the 14th century.
The present town of Kodaikanal was established by the Americans who were later joined by the britishers.
The first ever European to arrive in Kodaikanal was B.S.Ward who visited the town for a survey in 1821. Both the Americans and Britishers could not survive the scorching heat of Summers and thus they wanted a place to spend their summers in a place nearer to Madurai.
Upon receiving the report from ward about a cool town on the hills, the American and British officials rushed to visit the town. Gradually it became a summer retreat for the high-class British elites.
Today, Kodaikanal is a tourist spot where thousands of people flock in during summers as a cool escape from the scorching heats.
Places to visit
Kodaikanal is home to a number of natural treasures such as waterfalls, lakes, forests and rocks that will definitely blow your mind once you see them. However, the major center of attraction in Kodaikanal is the star-shaped man-made lake and is often regarded as the heart of the town.
Furthermore, there are Museums, temples and astrophysical observatory that add to the charm of the city. Let’s take a brief look over them!
1. Kodai lake
As mentioned before, Kodai lake is one of the most prominent tourist spots in Kodaikanal. The lake is a man made lake and is spread over 60 acres. In 1983, Sir Vere Henry Levinge built this lake and since then it is the center of attraction of Kodaikanal. Apart from Boating, tourists can also ride ponies in the nearby area.
2. Berijam lake
Berijam lake is yet another tourist attraction in Kodaikanal and is situated 21 km from the Kodai river. If you are planning to have a family picnic or some exquisite time for relaxation, then Berijam lake is the one for you. However, there are certain rules that need to be followed. In order to visit this lake, one must take permission from the forest department in advance. Another thing is that Boating is prohibited in the region because the water of this 3km long lake is utilized for water supply in the Town.
3. Mannavanur lake
Another magnificent spot in the crown of Kodaikanal, the manager lake is 34km away from the Kodai lake. However, this is another best spot for picnics and quality time. It will take one to one-and-a-half hours to reach the lake.
4. Coaker’s walk
How can we call a place a Hilltop if it does not have viewpoints from where you can view the entire town or valleys? Kodaikanal is blessed with many such viewpoints and one of them is Coaker’s walk. This point was built by Lt. Coaker in 1872. It is especially popular for its lush green surroundings and refreshing atmosphere. Another point in coaker’s walk is the Telescope house that allows the viewers to have a look around the entire town. This place is ideal for Morning or Evening walks. The Timing to visit the place is from Morning 7am to Evening 7 pm.
5. Moir point
Named after Sir Thomas moir, the Engineer behind the Goschen road (1949), the Moir point is located near the Berijam lake and is 3 km away from the Pillar rocks which is another popular destination in Kodaikanal. The Moir point is especially known for the view of Verdire hills that it offers. It is at a 10km distance from Bus stand.
6. Green Valley View
Also, known as the Suicide point, the green valley view is a must visit location in Kodaikanal. But wait, do not get swayed by its erratic name. The valley has got this name (suicide point) because of its depth and density that makes it look dangerous. However, the Green valley, which is 5.5 km away from Kodai lake, is an exquisite spot that gives you the view of Vaigai Dam and also offers the rich foliage it houses.
It can be visited from 10 in Morning to 3 in the evening.
7. Pambar Falls
The Pambar falls are located in the Pambar village which is about 4 km away from the hill station. These waterfalls are the perfect place to take a dip in water and enjoy the cool splash of it. However, be careful when taking kids with you. The waterfall falls on twisty rock formations that end up to create a water body. Due to this reason they are also referred as “The Grand cascade”. The waterfalls can be visited from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening.
8. Chettiar Park
Adorned with lawns, this park is Home to Kurinji, a unique species of flowers that bloom once in 12 years. This is perhaps one of the reasons that makes it a must visit site in Kodaikanal. Apart from this, The Chettiar park is the perfect destination for those looking for relaxation in the midst of lush green surroundings. The park is situated in the North-eastern corner of the hill station, 3 km away from the Kodaikanal bus stand. It can be visited from 9 am to 5pm and ₹25 is charged for camera use.
9. Pillar Rocks
Pillar rocks are a group of three giant rock formations that are standing Ata height of 400 ft above the Kodaikanal plains. If you are trekker, rock or cliff climber, then this place is a must-visit destination for you. The hidden nooks and crannies that lie in between the rocks provide you with different views of the surrounding. Apart from the rocks, this place has a mini garden where you can relax. Another jewel that enshrines this place is the devil’s kitchen which is in between the rocks. The devil’s kitchen is also known as Guna caves, named after Kamal Hasan’s movie Guna, which was shot here.
10. Vattakanal Falls
Situated at a distance of 3 km from the hill station, this tourist destination comes with an adrenaline rush for the adventure lovers. The water pool formed by the falls at the bottom is an ideal place to dip in and release all the stress.
11. Pine Forests
Apart from the Kodaikanal lake, there is another tourist place in Kodaikanal which is close to nature yet it is man-made. Situated in the south western corner of the hill, These easily accessible pine forests in the hill station were cultivated by Mr. Brynt in 1906. These extremely tall pine trees that are scattered on a big chunk of land, appear to be touching the clouds. You can go for some alone time. The Place is also popular for horse riding and walking.
12. Astrophysical observatory/ Kodaikanal Solar Observatory
One of the most renowned observatories in India, the Kodaikanal solar observatory was founded in 1899. The institute, situated in the Palani Hills, is run by the Indian Institute of astrophysics. The Solar observatory came to limelight for the Evershed effect, which was discovered as a result of the data collected here. The Observatory is especially popular for its impressive collection of an extensive range of Scientific equipment Like Solar tunnel, broadband, Watson magnetometer and high-frequency doppler. The mesmerizing surrounding of the observatory further adds to its charm.
13. Kurinji Andavar Murugan Temple
Dedicated to Murugan who is referred to as the “God of hills”, the Kurinji Andavar temple in Kodaikanal stands for its architecture and devotion. Situated at a distance of 3km from the Kodai lake, the temple is also known for the Kurinji flowers that it adorns. The temple also provides a majestic view of the Palani and Vaigai dams. Apart from Kurinji temple, Kodaikanal is an abode of many other religious places that include Mariamma temple, Vinayagar temple, Murugan temple, Elis villa and Munejkal mosque and Sacred heart church.
14. Shembaganur Museum of Natural History
Established in 1895, the Shembaganur museum is an important site about the ancient history of both Kodaikanal and the tribes of Tamil Nadu. This museum contains the artefacts related to the ancient Palaiyer tribes which once inhabited the hill station. Other than the artefacts, the Museum is also popular for the 300 exotic orchid species and 500 species of animals, birds and insects. The museum is a perfect blend of Anthropology and Ecology.
15. Wax Museum
This museum houses an impressive collection of wax statues of prominent figures from national and international history. Statues of Indian saints like Adishankaracharya and national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi are present here. Not only this, but the Museum also contains statues of Religious figures along with stories that are related to them. The depiction of Krishna with Gopikas is a prominent waxwork in the museum. The museum is located near the green valley and is on the gold link road. It opens from 10 am and closes by 5:30 pm.
Ways to Reach Kodaikanal
1. How to reach Kodaikanal via airport?
Kodaikanal does not have any airport of its own. The Nearest airport to Kodaikanal town is in Madurai which is 120km away from the town.
2. How to reach it via Road?
Travelling to Kodaikanal through the road can be enthralling as well as extensive experience owing to the routes. The two routes via which you can reach the hill station are Palani and Vathalagundu. The travel through roads will offer you scenic surroundings which you can enjoy, however, the roads near the ghats can cause trouble for those who are inexperienced drivers.
3. How to reach it via Railways?
The Nearest Railway station to the Kodaikanal town is the Kodai road which is 100 km away from the main town. Another station that takes you to Kodaikanal is the Dindigul Railway station. The Railway routes offer you picturesque views and are affordable for many tourists. However, one may have to lose their money to taxi drivers as they are the source to reach the town and they often monetize the situation.
Conclusively, Kodaikanal is a jewel in the state of Tamil Nadu that offers you relaxation along with some great memories. The town also provides you with precious information from the field of Science to Anthropology to nature and is also a heaven for the adventure freaks out there. So next time, if you plan to explore nature while also giving your brain much-needed relaxation, Kodaikanal should be listed in your “next destination” list.
Frequently Asked questions
When is the best time to visit Kodaikanal?
Although Kodaikanal can be visited at any time of the year, the best time to have the most enthralling experience is from April to June and then from September to October.
What are some activities that one can do in Kodaikanal?
Kodaikanal Town offers a range of activities that a tourist can do while they tour. Activities that one can do here include trekking, forest exploration, Boating, horse riding, and visiting temples and museums.
Is there any place for shopping in Kodaikanal?
Yes, Kodaikanal has an Anna Salai Market on Bazaar road that sells multiple goods. The products include handicrafts, jewellery, Homemade chocolates and Baked items that are worth trying. Along with this, they also sell brass wares and products made of wood and leather. A variety of oils and spices can be found here at a reasonable rate.