Kodaikanal is a cool town in the hills of the Dindigul district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In the Tamil language, the name of the city means The Gift of the Forest; while in Malayalam, it means The Princess of Hill stations. Above the upper Palani hills, the town is atop the plateau at 2133 m between the Parappar and Gundar valley. The core of the town holds an irregular basin whose heart is the manmade Kodaikanal Lake.
While the meadows and grasslands occupy the hill, huge Eucalyptus trees, Shola forests, lofty rocks, descending rivulets, cascading waterfalls, flower beds, and ever-present gardens thrive in the valleys. To the town’s north, high sloping hills act as guards, while to its east, the hills simply slope into lower Palnis. To the west, a plateau leads to the Indira Gandhi National Park, Annamalai hills, Manjampatti Valley, and the main part of the Western Ghats.
Established in 1845, it is a refuge for the tropical, arid plains of the region. Hospitality and tourism run the economy here. Kodaikanal is full of churches and Hindu temples holding religious significance.
Situated at 500 m from the bus stand and erected in 1863, an artificial, star-shaped lake attracts locals and tourists. You can hire rowboats and pedalos at the Kodaikanal Boat Club. Further, horses and bicycles are also available for short intervals besides the lake. The 5 km road surrounding the lake is best opted for walking.
This is the botanical garden to the east of the lake designed in 1908 by the forest officer of Madurai, H.D. Bryant. Holding 325 species of trees, shrubs, and cactuses, the park is a home of amazing flowers and 740 varieties of roses. A Eucalyptus tree of 1857 and a Bodhi tree are of great religious significant here. For the selling purpose, the ornamental plants are produced in a nursery. Horticultural exhibitions and flower shows are conducted in summers every year. The park charges nominal entrance fee.
Constructed by Lt. Coaker in 1872, this is a 1 km pedestrian path along the steep slopes. Winding around Mount Nebo, the walk begins from the Van Allen hospital and then intersects with the main road beside St. Peter’s Church. This walk offers you with a striking view of the plains. If there is no fog, you can view the Dolphin’s Nose towards the south, a valley of the Pambar River towards the southeast, Periyakulam town, and Madurai city. A rare phenomenon called Brocken specter is also seen here wherein you can see your own shadow on the clouds when the sun is at your rear end and clouds and mist are at the front. There is nominal entrance fee for the walk.
Bear Shola Falls
This is a tall waterfall in a Reserve forest at 3 km from the bus-stand reachable by climbing the footpath.
Green Valley View
This is also known as the Suicide Point located at 5.5 km from the bus-stand and near the golf course. It offers a panoramic view of the plains. Planned with good stairway, the commercial shops attract tourists.
Mr. Bryant, the forest officer of Madurai, began planting Pines in 1906 in the south-west of Kodaikanal for obtaining valuable timber.
Shembaganur Museum of Natural History
This is situated at 6 km from the bus-stand and holds more than 500 species of animals, birds, and insects along with a living set of 300 orchid species. Discovered in 1895, the museum also displays artworks of the earlier Palaiyar tribes whose descendants, even today, reside here.
Kodaikanal Solar Observatory
This is at a distance of 6 km from the bus-stand at the highest location of 2,343 m. Observations commencing from 1901, the former Director, John Evershed, founded the Evershed effect, a phenomenon of radial motion in sunspots. With the Terrestrial Telescope here, you can view the Sothuparai and Vaigai Dams, Periyakulam, and Varaha River. Apart from this, you can have a look at a comprehensive Astronomical Science museum, astronomy library, and planned night-time telescopic sky viewing. Generally, it is open on Fridays for few hours, but during the peak season, it is opened daily.
This is at a distance of 8 km away from the bus-stand. Holding a collection of three gigantic rock pillars, it stands at an altitude of 122 m. This viewpoint is managed by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. Near this point, there is public garden worth visiting. Guna Caves: Known previously as the Devil’s Kitchen, these caves are deep chambers amidst the Pillar Rocks. However, the public is now not permitted to view the deep valleys of the caves due to mysterious deaths of 12 youths. From a faraway distance, the tourists are allowed to view the sections of the cave.
This is situated at 8 km from Kodaikanal in winding Laws Ghat Road at the height of 1800 m. It is a waterfall emerging due to the outflow of Kodaikanal Lake. However, the water is not of good quality and hence not suitable for bathing. Other attractions include fruit vendors, jumping monkeys, and a smaller, calmer waterfall below the bridge crossing the stream.
This is at a distance of 8 km from the bus-stand. It is a flat rock over a stunning gorge of 6600 m. 1 km down a rocky trail soon after the Pambar Bridge; orange juice sellers provide a refreshing stop. This point is famous for its stunning steep rocky view on the plains. There is a short walkway here that takes you to the Pambar falls, also known as the ‘Liril Falls’ due to famous Liril Soap Advertisement shot here in 1985.
Kurinji Andavar Murugan Temple
This is at a distance of 4 km from the bus-stand and is popular for its Kurinji flower that grows only once every 12 years. The temple is dedicated to Sri Kurinji Easwaran, who is Lord Murugan. Built-in 1936 by a European lady who later became a Hindu follower, the lady named herself Leelavathi and married Mr. Ramanathan due to which she was also called Lady Ramanathan.
Best Time to Visit
April to June and October to January
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airports are Madurai at 135 km, Trichy at 200 km, and Coimbatore 170 km. By train, the nearest stations are Palani at 64 km, Kodai Road at 80 km, and Dindigul at 100 km.
By Road: The Palani-Kodai road is a journey of 2-3 hours. From Periyakulam, a shortcut of 28 km via Kumbakkarai is under construction. There are vehicles to take you to the city of Kodaikanal such as rented bicycles, taxis, vans, and limited city buses, but not rickshaws.