Fondly called as the Princess of hill stations, Kodaikanal is one of the most beautiful hill stations in South India. It is situated at an altitude of 2133 m in Palani Hills, a part of the Western Ghat mountain range in the state of Tamil Nadu. The hills are covered with rolling green meadows and grasslands. The scenic valleys feature tall eucalyptus trees and dense Shola forests. Spectacular cascading waterfalls and gardens with beautiful flower beds in bloom are a sight to see.
Some of the must-see attractions of Kodaikanal include:
1. Berijam Lake
Most beautiful of the three lakes in Kodaikanal, Berijam Lake provides drinking water to Periyakulam town. Besides a Forest Department Camp and an Eco-Education Center, other interesting things include nature trail, museum, medicinal demonstration garden, swamp ecosystem, fresh water ecosystem and Shola forests.
2. Kodai Lake
Kodai Lake is a man-made lake with recreational facilities for sailing, boating, horse riding and cycling. Walking around the lake makes for a pleasant experience.
3. Coakers Walk
Coakers Walk is a 1 km mountain road running along the edge of steep slopes on the southern side of Kodai road with a wonderful view of the plains. On a clear day, one can get to see Dolphin’s Nose and Pambar river valley from here.
4. Bryant Park
A 10 minute walk from the boat club, Bryant Park features 325 species of trees, shrubs and cactuses. There are 740 varieties of beautiful roses on display.
5. Kurinjiandavar Temple
Kurinjiandavar Temple is about 4 km from the lake. The flowers inside the temple bloom once in 12 years. Palani Hills and the Kodaikanal Town can be viewed from this temple.
Other religious places include mosques at Ellis Villa and Munjikal, Sacred Heart Church at Munjikal and Francis Xavier Church at Gorapur.
Also visit the Mariamman Temple, Vinayagar Temple and Murugan Temple, St. Mary’s Church at Lassalette, St. Joseph’s Church and Lutheran Mission Church at Lake End for prayer and a quiet time.
6. Green Valley View or Suicide Point
There is a 5000 ft steep drop from this point. Monkeys in this area are an added attraction for animal lovers.
7. Pillar Rocks
Pillar Rocks is about 8 km from the lake tower. Shady woods, located beneath the Pillar Rocks, is an ideal place for picnic.
8. Devil’s Kitchen
Devil’s Kitchen is a cave located between the Pillar Rocks and Green Valley View. This became famous as Guna Cave after the Tamil movie, Guna. Beware of the deep and hidden ravines while visiting this place.
9. Physical Observatory
At an altitude of 7700 ft, the Physical Observatory stands at the highest point in Kodai hills. It was built in 1898.
10. Forty Miles Rounded
40 Miles Rounded is a popular route for hiking and trekking. Mannavanur sheep farm and several mountain streams can be seen on this trek.
11. Dolphins Nose
Dolphins Nose is a rough curve around the hillside leading to a point where a flat rock projects over a 6600 ft deep abyss. A view can be had of the steep slopes rising from the plains.
12. Vembadi Peak
Vembadi Peak rises to a height of 2466 m. Berijam Lake, Vandaravu range and Mannovanur sheep farm can be seen from the summit.
13. Palani Hills
Covered with evergreen, wet and temperate Shola forests, Palani Hills are an eastern offshoot of the Western Ghats with a centrally located Kodaikanal township.
14. The Apple Research Station
The Apple Research Station studies new varieties of fruits and vegetables, to propagate those that grow best in Kodaikanal. A must visit for those interested in horticulture.
15. Mannavanur Sheep Station
Mannavanur Sheep Station is about an hour’s drive from Kodai. Wildlife like spotted deer, gaur, wild dogs and Sambar visit this area. There is also a lake with otters in it.
16. Water Falls
Major water falls include Silver Cascade, Bear Shola Falls, Pambar Falls and Thalaiyar Falls. Pambar Falls, also called Grand Cascade, is the famous ‘Liril Falls’ of the hugely popular Liril Soap Commercial shot here in the 1980s. Thalaiyar Falls is also known as Rat tail falls and is among one of the highest falls in India, with a fall of 975 ft.
17. Kukkal Caves
Kukkal Caves are 40 km from Kodaikanal. Manjampath valley teeming with bison can be seen from this place.
18. Shenbaganur Museum
Shenbaganur Museum showcases archaeological remains and the flora and fauna of the hills. It houses one of the best orchidoriums in the country containing more than 300 species of orchids.
Location: Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu, South India
Altitude: 2133 m
Temperature: 8°C to 20°C
Best time to travel: April to June; September to October
Accommodation: Plenty of hotels, resorts, cottages, inns and youth hostels are available to suit all budgets.
The closest airports to Kodaikanal are Madurai (about 120 km) and Coimbatore (175 km).