Mountains and valleys enveloped by yards and yards of mist, cool breeze that tingles the skin, lush greenery, and a spectacular sightseeing spot—the princess of hill stations, Kodaikanal, is a perfect getaway from Chennai.
A few days ago in November, my husband and I headed to Kodaikanal for four days. Despite having visited the place several times we chose Kodaikanal for its unique mystical charm. It has something to offer for all ages. And every time I visit, I learn something new about the place.
The nearest airport and railway station to Kodai is Madurai. We took the sleeper bus from YBM Travels since it was the most accessible transport from our location and also the fastest. We boarded the bus at 10 pm and reached Kodai around 7:30 a.m. It seemed super convenient.
We stayed at Great Trails by GRT. The resort was around 5 km from the main Kodai city, but it was worth the stay. Away from the bustle of cities, the resort offered comfortable accommodations. The tranquil atmosphere and breathtaking views from our room helped us stay connected with nature leaving us blissful and rejuvenated. The resort had all the amenities and activities to keep us entertained. The food was very delicious and customer service was excellent.
By the time we checked in and freshened up, it was almost noon. Nevertheless, we wanted to visit a few places. We hired a taxi from Durga Travels during our stay. They had drivers who hailed from Kodai. So they doubled as our guides too and shared interesting details about the city.
With just a few hours left before sunset, we went to spots that were close by. We covered Upper Lake View, Pine Forest, Moier Point, Devil’s Kitchen(Guna Cave), Pillar Rocks, Green Valley View, Coaker’s Walk and Kodai Lake. These spots are a definite must if one is first timer. Despite having visited these places several times during our previous trips, we decided to revisit them to reminisce all the fond memories that were associated with them.
Upper Lake View
This point offered a panoramic view of the star-shaped Kodai Lake and the surrounding greenery.
We were mesmerized by the tall Pine trees that welcomed us in abundance. It is a great place for walking and photography. It is believed to be a popular cine shooting spot. I was personally blown away by the woody smell that emanated from the trees.
Devil’s Kitchen (Guna Caves)
It is believed that the caves are framed by three gigantic boulders that protrude from the cliff. It shot to fame after the Tamil movie ‘Guna’ was shot here. Unfortunately, the entrance to the cave is shut and sealed since the path is dangerously slippery. However, the roots of the trees in this place were intriguing. We enjoyed clicking pictures here.
The highlight of this place is three vertical boulders that stand at a height of 400 feet. A white cross is said to have existed on these rocks as a testimony to David Gell’s love story. (Read about it here).
It had a seating area where we could relax and enjoy the scenery. We sat in silence, entranced by the tapestry woven by nature as she ushered the coy mist to play hide and seek with the rocks.
This point is located on the way to Berijam Lake. This point got is name after Sir Thomas Moir. It has a watch tower that offers scenic view of the valleys.
Green Valley View
This place offers a splendid view of the valley that is at a depth of 5000 ft. It was originally called suicide point as many incidents of people falling off the cliff had been reported. The place is now fenced with iron railings to prevent any such mishaps.
Honestly, I was more interested in the row of shops that lined the path that led to the spot. Shops selling bakery items, homemade chocolates, clothes, jackets, trinkets, keychains, souvenirs, and many other knick-knacks—seemed quite interesting.
It’s a kilometer-long pathway that offers scenic views. It also has an observatory with a telescope to view important landmarks. We just strolled along the path pausing frequently to soak in the fresh air and let our eyes feast on the beauty of nature.
Around 4:30 p.m. we got dropped near the Kodai Lake. We were not interested in the boat ride. Instead, we decided to walk around the lake. It is roughly 6 km and took us an hour to complete it. We enjoyed observing the sights and sounds around the lake as we walked. Bikes were also available for rent. Though we wished to go biking too, we had to head back to the resort since it was almost sunset.
On the second day, we wished to explore the places that we had not had a chance to visit during our previous trips. The places were quite far but Boy! They were so worth the travel. Poombarai, Mannavanur, Kookal villages—such picturesque places, they seemed like a place from an artist’s canvas.
Before heading to the villages we first stopped at Rose Garden. The garden was well-maintained and it was very huge. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore the garden at leisure. Just clicked a few pictures. It’s a nice place to go for a picnic.
Tiny colorful houses clustered together amidst a picturesque landscape comprising terraced farms—Poombarai. As we drove down to the village, our driver shared some interesting nuggets of information about the village. He told us that the village is comprised of Hindus and Muslims who are greatly united. They celebrate all festivals together. During important Hindu festivals, Muslims refrain from eating meat. And after the festivals Hindus invite all the Muslim friends for an elaborate feast.
The highlight of this place was the Kuzhandai Vellappar Temple. It is an ancient Muruga temple that is believed to have been consecrated in the 5th century BC by a Tamil Siddar. It is a very divine place indeed.
Outside the temple, I saw a lot of vendors selling Garlic, Carrots, Potatoes, Butter fruits, Tomatoes, and Passion fruits. The single clove garlic is available in abundance here. It is supposed to have a lot of medicinal benefits. Farming is the main occupation for people living here. We wished we had booked a homestay in Poombarai to experience their culture.
Mannavanur is about an hour away from Poombarai. We first visited the sheep and rabbit farm that is managed by the Agricultural Department. What spectacular sights! Endless yards of lush green grass, a pristine lake, and perfect weather where sheep are herded. No wonder it is called a mini Switzerland. We both fell in love with the place. We also got to see the iconic bridge where a scene from the Tamil movie “I” was shot.
Soon it was lunchtime. Luckily there was a canteen there. Malar Canteen served home-cooked vegetarian food for Rs. 100. The food was good but more importantly the views while we had our food were breathtaking.
After having our lunch we proceeded to the Mannavanur Lake. We purchased tickets for the Parisal (Coracle) ride. The place was not crowded and the lake was so tranquil. It felt therapeutic. Movies like ‘Aadhavan’ have been shot in this lake.
On the way back we stopped at Kookal Lake and Kookal Falls. Kookal Falls was in a private area but our driver being a localite was able to take us there. We did not have a change of clothes else we would have enjoyed frolicking beneath the falls. Nevertheless, we were mesmerized by the sound of the waterfalls. The water there was crystal clear. On the way back we were lucky to spot a bison.
We returned to the resort by 5:30 p.m. It took us almost two hours to drive back to our resort.
On the third day of our stay, we initially thought of going on a trekking tour to Vattakanal Falls, Pambar Falls, and Dolphin’s Nose but instead we decided to skip them. Berijam Lake, Silent Valley View, and other nearby areas were on our list but the government had temporarily restricted access to those places due to increased wildlife activity. So we decided to spend our day at the resort instead and we were so glad we did that.
Our resort had a hiking path that we decided to explore on our own. As we walked we were able to view the beautiful valley dotted with terraced carrot farms and Berikkai(Indian Pear) trees. We had to walk roughly three kilometers uphill. We did it at leisure enjoying every sight along our path. I also had an opportunity to talk with people working in the carrot farms. They were kind enough to hand me some crunchy carrots to taste.
In the afternoon we booked appointments at the Bodhi Spa in our resort. Ah! We felt so relaxed and rejuvenated after the pampering ninety-minute session.
After checking out from our resort, we had a lot of time left until departure. So we visited a few more places like Kurinji Andaavar Temple, Silver Cascade Falls, Natural Science Museum, Dolman Prehistoric Cave, Anju Veedu Falls, and Bryant Park.
Kurunji Andavar Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Muruga. We spent some peaceful moments inside the temple. There is also a viewpoint outside the temple to view the Palani Murugan Temple. However, since it was misty we were not able to view anything.
Silver Cascade Falls
The entry to the Falls is closed. The water in the Falls mostly comprises sewage water. Honestly, there was nothing much here to do. Just clicked pictures for having gone there.
Natural Science Museum
The museum had some rare exhibits and ancient artifacts. We spent about half an hour here.
Dolmen Prehistoric Cave
This place of archeological interest is located in Perumal Malai. We went there with high expectations. We did see the caves but it was in a small demarcated area amidst a residential area. We were quite disappointed.
Anju Veedu Falls
This Falls is around half an hour’s drive from Dolmen Cave. Our driver took us there since he was familiar with the place else it’s quite difficult to spot it. We reached the Falls area after a short hike. Thankfully, it was not raining, else we would have been bitten by leeches that are known to be found there in abundance.
We reached the edge of the Falls. The views were truly spectacular. But we did not dare to step inside since the rocks were dangerously slippery. Also, we were told that there had been a lot of deaths reported due to selfies. Selfies and Deaths—some people still don’t take it seriously, do they?
As were returning three people in the village requested a ride in our car. We let them in. They were friendly. We were surprised to know that they usually walk 10 km uphill every day to reach the nearest bus stop. They told us that if travelers like us give them a lift then they take the car. We were shocked upon hearing that. We, city dwellers, wear a smartwatch to count steps taken, however people like them walk every day for a living. Their fitness levels are truly admirable.
From Anju Veedu Falls we headed back to the Lake area. We had our lunch and had a few more hours remaining. So I did some shopping in the lake area. The lake area has a lot of shops that sell shawls, jackets, souvenirs, and Home-made chocolates in a wide variety of flavors. After spending a good deal of time there we visited Bryant Park. The park has neatly manicured lawns, huge trees, and a myriad collection of flowers. We rested there for a while before heading to the bus stand.
As we walked back I spotted a bakery shop in Anna Salai that was teeming with people. I was told that the cakes and pastries in that shop were very tasty and also an Instagram post had made the shop famous. I didn’t get a chance to taste them, however, had a hot cup of coffee. The pastries were sold so quickly.
Our trip had finally come to an end. We headed to the bus stand and boarded our bus back to Chennai.
The trip to Kodai was indeed a very memorable one. We covered a lot of places at leisure, visited some new places, enjoyed time away from our mundane routine, and felt highly rejuvenated.
( My husband is apparently camera shy and did not want his pictures to be posted so you can’t find him in any of the pictures. But he was the one who urgedme to write this post:) )
- To travel around Kodai, one can either take the bus, vans and cars run by private Travels or hire a Taxi. No autos are available in Kodai.
- Most sightseeing places close by 4:30 p.m. Plan to start your sightseeing by 9 a.m. so that it is possible to cover most places by evening.
- Entry to areas like Berijam Lake requires a Forest Department Permit. Check with your travel agent.
- It is best not to venture out after sunset because Bisons roam around.
- Most hotels/ resorts offer an elaborate buffet breakfast. Have a heavy breakfast before heading out to keep you afloat until evening. Most sightseeing places don’t have a good hotel. However, you can find shops selling boiled corn, peanuts, tea and Maggi in case you are hungry.
- Disposable plastic bottles are strictly banned. You either have to carry your own bottle or purchase a 5l bottle. So it’s a good idea to carry bottles from home and get them refilled in water ATM’s.
- Lastly click many pictures to preserve your memories.
I hope this travelogue will come handy if you plan a vacation to Kodai. Do share this post with someone who might find it useful. Drop in your comments below if you enjoyed reading this post. Reach out to me if you need more info about Kodai.