All must have read a lot of hill stations being called as the Queen of hills. Ootacamund, Shimla and many of them have been fondly called by that name. However, Princess of hills has only one contender and that definitely is Kodaikanal, the lovely hill station in southern India. For no reason has she been coined the name, Princess of hills as Kodiakanal stands beautiful like a well decked up princess.
When my eyes opened in the morning, the bus was climbing the ghats and I was treated to lovely views of valleys. Flowers in different shapes, sizes and colours blossomed from all sides. Kodaikanal was just waking up when I descended from the bus and headed to my hotel.
My first destination was Bryant park which gets its name from British army officer Glenn Bryant and is located next to the lake. Every year in the month of may, flower and vegetable shows are held at the the park and when I visited in the month of march, the place was getting readied with new layers of grass, new plants and a lot of cleaning. The place looked beautiful with a lot of trees, flowers and greenery around.
One of the most visited places in the princess of hills is Coakers walk. It is a beautiful walkway with enchanting views of the valleys, the distant hills and floating clouds. Honeymooners, youths, families and school children were all strolling down the walkway admiring the beautiful landscape and clicking photographs. It also offers a telescopic view of the beautiful valleys but the long queue did not really push me to go and have a look through the telescope. The place also has a lot of hawkers selling different memorabilia and paraphernalia to the tourists.
Pine forests in Kodaikanal is prominently known as a film shooting location. Numerous movies in the 80s and 90s have been shot amidst the tall pine trees. The place was teeming with tourists who were busy clicking and posing for photographs and hawkers who were selling fresh carrots and raw mangoes. The place is on a slope and the visitors can keep walking a long way down crisscrossing the pines.
Moyer's view point also attracts a large number of visitors. One has to climb up an elevated place to gaze at the exceptional vistas. The place however was too small and claustrophobic with the numerous visitors pushing shoulders to have a glimpse of the vast landscape. The place is also closer to the road that leads to Berijam lake. Without prior permissions visitors are not allowed to go to Berijam Lake. This lake is also the starting point for the Kodai- Munnar trek.
A few kilometers away from Moyers view point lies Shanti valley. The place can be easily misunderstood for pine forests. Though Shanti valley looks quite similar to pine forests, it looked serene and secluded. There were hardly any tourists or hawkers. The only people whom I found were a couple of professional photographers. It definitely is a lovely tourist spot devoid of tourists with lots of shade and calmness.
|Moyer's view point
Very few people call Devil's Kitchen by its official name and rather call it by its popular name, Guna caves. Made famous by the Kamal Hassan movie, Guna, this place became a prominent one on the tourist circuit after the movie was filmed here. Its a small walk from the road to reach Guna caves. The place looks eerie with roots of trees weirdly snaking all around and I felt Devil's Kitchen was the apt name and more suited than Guna caves. The place is quite steep and the gravel doesn't help in climbing. As you trek higher above the roots, the mist covered pillar rocks comes into vicinity. This is the view of the rocks from the other side and not from where usually tourists see it. The place has been fenced to a large extent but still has stretches where if you slip, its the last the world will see of you. Expansive valleys and mist covered green hills make up for an eye-soothing experience. The caves where the Guna movie was shot lies between the pillar rocks and has been prohibited from entry. This place was earlier known to be a killer as many people who had trudged further ahead ended up loosing their lives. However, Devil's Kitchen does leave its visitors spellbound with the beautiful vistas and quirky roots.
|View from Guna's cave
Pillar rock is supposedly one of the most famous and frequently visited tourist spots in Kodaikanal. Three huge rocks in the form of pillars jut out from the hills to form the Pillar rocks. The rocks with beautiful landscape in the background and mist hovering around it is a treat to watch.
Renamed as Green valley view, Suicide point has changed immensely from what I had seen of it 15 years ago. It used to be a huge open land with a fencing just before the gorge but has now turned into a busy commercial location. It has numerous shops on both sides selling everything from chocolates to earrings with a narrow pathway wedged between them that leads the visitors to mindblowing vistas that the gorges and hills offer. Tourists and travellers were frolicking all over the place happily clicking photos through the huge fencing and buying all that were being offered by the hawkers.
|Pathway to suicide point
The only letdown during my visit to Kodaikanal came in the form of waterfalls. Silver cascade waterfalls is located a few kilometers outside the limits of Kodaikanal and I had a quick look at it when the bus passed by. There was a huge crowd that had assembled to see a trickle of water flow down the rocks. Summer was peaking and that denied me the view of Silver cascade in its full vigour.
Bear Shola falls is another waterfalls in Kodaikanal which attracts tourists. After a long walk through the woods I was surprised to find the place without even a drop of water. The place had completely dried up and the only way I could imagine that it was a waterfall was after seeing water flow marks on the rocks.
Pambar falls was made famous by liril advertisemnt in the 90's when the liril girl danced under the waterfall promoting the brand. With just the rocks and my imagination of the falls, this was also no different from the earlier falls that I had seen.
|Silver cascade waterfalls
|Bear shola waterfalls
The lake is the most prominent place in the whole Kodaikanal. Life of the princess revolves around the lake. Numerous shops selling from anything to everything, horses and cycles ready for a ride and boating options make the lake the most preferred location for people holidaying in Kodaikanal. The big sprawling lake looks gorgeous with beautiful blue lotuses popping up from the waters, white mist floating over it and lovely green canopy in the background. After a nice cycle ride around the lake I went for a long stroll around the same with some raw mangoes and hot tea. That was indeed a tiring and refreshing experience. The walk also gave me an opportunity to see beautiful bungalows and old houses located alongside the lake. Staying in one of them and taking in the beautiful vistas that the lake offers would definitely be a surreal experience. There were also numerous Tibetan shops selling a melange of artifacts. The place was as expected, very crowded with honeymooners, families, school children, locals and foreigners. However I found the lake and its surroundings quite captivating with pleasant climate and beautiful vistas.
I also went up all the way to have a look at the lake from Upper lake view. It is a very small view point from where one can get a mind blowing aerial view of the gorgeous lake and the surrounding green woods.
|Upper lake view
Kurinji Andavar temple is quite a famous one with Lord Muruga as it main deity and is situated on a nice little hill. The temple gets its name from the flower Kurinji which blossoms on the hills of Kodaikanal only once in 12 years. The next blossom is expected to happen in the year 2018.
I experienced that people in Kodaikanal find Sundays special since the local market opens up and the crowd throng the streets. I found hawkers selling vegetables, fresh fruits, fabrics, accessories, utensils and much more. The place was swarming with people I had to really brush shoulders to move ahead. Kodaikanal has some of the famous residential schools in the country and Sundays were happy times for children too. They were at the lake, on the streets, at coffee day and everywhere. Potluck cafe on PT Road is a beautiful little cafe in European style which offers some mouth watering delicacies. With outdoor seating, one can enjoy the lovely dishes and see the locals, tourists, backpackers and bikers languorously strolling past on the busy street. Their Mayan hot cocoa is very much recommended. Tibetan Brothers restaurant on the same road serves authentic Tibetan food. I found their momos and thukpas to be exceptional. Kodaikanal is also well known for its home made chocolates and there are lots of shops selling them.
|Kurinji Andavar temple
|Crowded sunday market
With numerous view ponts, waterfalls, trekking options and a splendid lake, Kodaikanal definitely is one of the best hill stations that the country can boast of.
Signing Note : The princess looks gorgeous and is charming and inviting...!!
Route- Bengaluru- Salem- Dindigul- Batlagundu- Kodaikanal
Distance- 465 Kms