The magic of Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal is South India‘s hill station famous for its breathtaking views, home-made chocolates, fleshy carrots and plums, high waterfalls, delicious baked goodies and the world famous magic mushroom
Kodaikanal is pretty much South India’s equivalent of a Shimla, a Mussoorie or a Nainital. In the summers, people from Chennai and other cities flock to this hill station in Tamil Nadu.
In fact, over the years, many residents of Chennai have built their holiday homes in and around the lake some of which are even available for rent on Airbnb and other websites.
Kodaikanal is known for its breathtaking views, pine forests, home-made chocolates, cheese, India’s only organic golf course, the famous star-shaped lake, residence of the Late Putarpati Sai Baba, the delectable eucalyptus oil, fleshy carrots and plums, adventurous bikers, high waterfalls, delicious baked goodies and the world famous magic mushrooms. It makes a wonderful summer vacation destination. Based on my past four visits, here are some of the must do things which should be on your itinerary.
A very scenic walk, with wonderful views of the valley, the best time to traverse this stretch is during sunrise. And if you get lucky, you may be walking in the middle of the clouds. On the way, there will be a few great places to score some very fresh produce. If you know how to ride a bike, quite a picturesque ride awaits you. Also at the main gate is the telescopic house, to get much prettier up-close views.
Caps Fly Valley
Imagine throwing a light object away from you and it coming flying right back at you! About 15 km from Main Market is this offbeat spot. The reason for this is the atmospheric pressure in the area. Objects like a plastic bottles or caps would be perfect. This valley is surrounded by hills, forest and fog. It is very charming.
Located a 35-minutes drive away is the Berajim reservoir which is a lovely spot to open a picnic basket and enjoy the lovely weather. But even more enjoyable is the scenic drive and the forests with the eucalyptus trees. The air is so pure that you can actually feel the freshness and your lungs feel so healthy. Being a forest-regulated area, make sure to get permission either a day before, or go early in the morning as there are a very limited number of people allowed on the route. Also make sure not to drop any litter in the protected zone. Otherwise, you will be fined.
Star shaped lake
The lake is stunning with crystal clear water and is the main attraction of the hill station. There are quite a few activities that you can indulge in here. The boat house has many options: row and paddle boats. There are many ducks which can be fed while riding. During a light drizzle, all the greenery looks very fresh. I even love to do the 6-kilometres walk around the lake. It gives great views and lovely Instagram photo moments. Sometimes you might find bisons crossing the road. Eating corn on the cob and walking the stretch is magical.
Main Market Street
The main junction in the town is known as the Seven-Road Junction. There’s a lot to do here. All the main cafes and restaurants are located here. You can shop for handicrafts, cheese, baked goodies, etc. here. The famous Kodai Club is situated here. It’s the only bar here where you can smoke indoors. It’s easy to get access to the club as it’s affiliated with many other clubs. The main junction is the most happening area and on your trip, it’s likely going to be the most visited place.
Kurinji Andavar Temple
South Indians love religious tourism and this is perfect for them. This temple is famous for the Kurunji flower that blooms every 12 years. The next bloom is scheduled for 2030. The main deity of this temple is Lord Murugan, but along with that you have shrines of Lord Hanuman, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and the Navagraha. This temple is very colourful and the scenery around is stunning.
India has very few well-maintained botanical gardens and Bryant Park is one such place. The glasshouse and rose garden are the highlights of this place. It makes a perfect spot for a family picnic. One thing not to miss here is the flower show organised during peak season. It happens in the last week of May. All houses that have gardens participate in the show to showcase the beauty of their flowers.
Vattakanal and the magic mushrooms
About 10km from Kodaikanal is the neighbouring town of Vatakanal. The best way to get here is by a vehicle. The driver needs to be an expert as the ascent is very steep. It is unreally pristine, completely untouched and you will see very little people. This area is a bit boho and hipster with a huge Israeli settlement. So it’s a great place for some delectable Israeli/ Lebanese food. A must visit is the Altaf Cafe which has amazing views while you eat divine food. Also if you choose to get trippy, there are the world-famous magic mushrooms. Now this is a tricky territory as the magic mushrooms here are supposed to give you a high but are not listed on the Narcotics Control Bureau’s list of banned drugs. Use your own discretion. Kodaikanal is such a place that once you visit, you will want to come back. Whether you are solo, honeymooners, a couple, a family or a bunch of friends, there’s a lot to do for all.