Kodaikanal is a captivating hill station located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Dubbed as the "Princess of Hill Stations," it is renowned for its striking landscapes, peaceful atmosphere, and pleasant weather. The town sits at an elevation of 2,133 meters above sea level and derives its name from the Tamil language, which means "gift of the forest." It lies in the Palani Hills of the Western Ghats and is enveloped by charming pine forests, cascading waterfalls, and picturesque viewpoints. Kodaikanal has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century when it was discovered by the British. Today, it is a highly sought-after tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the globe who come to relish its natural beauty, cool climate, and tranquil ambiance. Some of the top attractions in Kodaikanal include the Kodaikanal Lake, Coaker's Walk, Bryant Park, Pillar Rocks, and the Silver Cascade Falls. The town is also famous for its homemade chocolates, handicrafts, and spices that make for great souvenirs. In a nutshell, Kodaikanal is an ideal spot for those seeking an escape from the hectic city life and a chance to experience the splendor of nature in a peaceful and serene setting.
Places To Visit
- Kodaikanal Lake - Constructed during the British era in 1863, the Kodaikanal Lake is a picturesque man-made lake that offers various activities such as boating and fishing. It is also an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic.
- Coaker's Walk - Spanning over a kilometer in length, Coaker's Walk is a paved pathway that offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. It is recommended to visit this place either in the morning or late evening to avoid the crowds and savor the peaceful ambiance.
- Bryant Park - Established in 1908, Bryant Park is a beautiful botanical garden that showcases a wide array of flora and fauna. It features a glasshouse that exhibits an exotic collection of plants and flowers, including rare hybrid roses.
- Pillar Rocks - Standing at a height of 400 feet, the Pillar Rocks are a cluster of three massive granite boulders that provide mesmerizing views of the verdant valleys. This place is ideal for rock climbing or trekking.
- Guna Caves - Also known as Devil's Kitchen, the Guna Caves are a set of hidden caves and crevices that were allegedly used by Kaurava prince Guna as his hideout. It is advisable to hire a guide to explore the caves and learn about their fascinating history.
- Bear Shola Falls - Cascading from a height of 40 feet, the Bear Shola Falls is a popular spot for trekking and picnicking. The falls form a shallow pool at the base where visitors can take a dip in the cool waters.
- Berijam Lake - Located at an elevation of 5,000 feet, Berijam Lake is a serene waterbody surrounded by lush green forests and hills. It is an excellent spot for birdwatching and nature walks.
- Kurinji Andavar Temple - Dedicated to Lord Muruga, the Kurinji Andavar Temple is renowned for its rare Kurinji flowers that bloom once every twelve years. The temple provides a panoramic view of the surrounding valleys and hills.
- Silver Cascade Falls - A picturesque waterfall located en route to Madurai, renowned for its silvery appearance.
- Thalaiyar Falls - The tallest waterfall in Tamil Nadu, situated near Kodaikanal, with a drop height of 974 feet, and a popular destination for trekking and hiking enthusiasts.
- Kukkal Caves - Natural caves located near Kodaikanal, believed to be over 3000 years old, famous for their unique rock formations, and a favored spot for exploration and adventure seekers.
- Vattakanal Falls - A stunning waterfall situated in the village of Vattakanal, surrounded by verdant greenery and breathtaking landscapes.
- Palani Murugan Temple - A holy shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan located in the nearby town of Palani, considered one of the most important pilgrimage centers in Tamil Nadu, recognized for its exquisite architecture and spiritual importance.
- Mannavanur Lake - A charming lake situated close to Kodaikanal, hemmed in by scenic hills and meadows, a preferred site for fishing, boating, and picnics.
- Thandikudi Village - A picturesque village in the vicinity of Kodaikanal, distinguished for its spectacular scenery and traditional lifestyle.
- Berijam Lake - A splendid lake situated in a reserved forest region near Kodaikanal, admired for its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking views.
- Kodaikanal's forests are home to a variety of animals, such as deer, bison, wild boars, monkeys, and squirrels. Although carnivorous animals like leopards and wild dogs are also present, they are seldom seen.
- Birdwatchers will find plenty of feathered friends in Kodaikanal's forests, including the Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Blue Robin, and Grey Junglefowl.
- Kodaikanal's forests are also home to numerous insect species, with several types of butterflies, such as the Atlas Moth, Indian Red Admiral, and Common Mormon.
- Those looking to explore the region's wildlife can do so by taking nature walks or trekking through the dense forests.
- The Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary, situated near the town, is a great place to observe the area's wildlife. The sanctuary is home to various endangered species, including the Indian Elephant, Nilgiri Langur, and Indian Bison.
- Trekking - Kodaikanal is a dream destination for trekkers, as there are several scenic trails offering breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and forests. Some of the most popular trekking routes include the Dolphin's Nose trek, the Perumal Peak trek, and the Vattakanal trek.
- Boating - The star-shaped Kodai Lake is a must-visit attraction in Kodaikanal, and boating on its serene waters is a popular activity. Visitors can rent rowboats or pedal boats to take a leisurely ride on the lake's calm waters.
- Cycling - Kodaikanal's beautiful routes can be explored on two wheels by cycling enthusiasts. Several shops in the town rent bicycles, and guided cycling tours are also available for those who want to discover the area's natural beauty.
- Sightseeing - Kodaikanal has many scenic spots worth a visit, such as the Coaker's Walk, Bryant Park, and Pillar Rocks. The town is also home to various museums and art galleries that showcase the region's history and culture.
- Yoga and Meditation - Kodaikanal's tranquil surroundings make it a perfect location for yoga and meditation retreats. Several centers in and around the town offer programs for visitors seeking to unwind and rejuvenate.
- Camping - Kodaikanal's verdant forests and hills make it an ideal destination for camping. Tour operators offer camping packages that include tents, camping equipment, and bonfires, allowing visitors to experience the natural beauty of the region up close.
- Shopping - Kodaikanal's markets are an excellent place to buy souvenirs and locally made handicrafts. The main shopping areas in the town are Anna Salai Market, Coaker's Walk Handicrafts Center, and the Tibetan Market.
- Roasted Corn on the Cob - A popular street food in Kodaikanal is the roasted corn on the cob, served with a generous spread of butter and salt. This snack is perfect for those looking for a quick bite while exploring the town's scenic spots.
- Homemade Chocolate Fudge - Kodaikanal is renowned for its homemade chocolates, and one of the must-try street food items is the chocolate fudge. Made with rich cocoa and fresh cream, this velvety-textured fudge is a treat for those with a sweet tooth.
- Flavorful Omelette - One of the most popular street food items in Kodaikanal is the fluffy and flavorful omelette. Cooked with onions, tomatoes, and green chilies on a griddle, the omelette is served with buttered bread and is a filling breakfast or snack option.
- Tibetan Momos - Tibetan momos are a staple street food item in Kodaikanal. These meat or vegetable-filled steamed dumplings are served with a hot dipping sauce.They are a delicious and affordable meal option for those looking to try something new.
- Crispy Bread Pakoda - Bread pakoda is a spicy and crispy snack that is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Made with bread slices dipped in spiced chickpea batter and deep-fried, bread pakoda is served with tangy chutneys and is perfect for those looking for a savory snack.
- Fresh Fruit Salad - Fresh fruit salad is a healthy and refreshing street food option in Kodaikanal. Made with seasonal fruits like bananas, apples, and pomegranates, the salad is topped with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of chaat masala. It is a perfect snack for those looking for a guilt-free option while exploring the town's scenic spots.
- The Carlton - Located in the Kodai hills, The Carlton is a luxury hotel that offers spectacular views of the valley. The hotel has a range of well-furnished rooms, suites, and cottages, along with a variety of amenities such as a spa, fitness center, swimming pool, and multiple dining options.
- Sterling Kodai Valley - Set amidst lush greenery and scenic hills, Sterling Kodai Valley is a picturesque resort that offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant that serves local and international cuisine, a spa, a gaming area, and a play area for children.
- Kodai Resort Hotel - Situated near the famous Kodaikanal Lake, the Kodai Resort Hotel is a charming property that features well-appointed rooms and cottages, a multi-cuisine restaurant, a spa, and a terrace with lovely views of the surrounding hills.
- Hill Country Resorts - Nestled amidst beautiful hills and valleys, Hill Country Resorts is a tranquil property that offers spacious rooms and suites, a restaurant that serves local and international cuisine, a spa, and a game room.
- Le Poshe by Sparsa - Located on the Kodaikanal hills, Le Poshe by Sparsa is a luxurious resort that offers breathtaking views of the valley. The resort has a range of well-appointed rooms and suites, a restaurant that serves local and international cuisine, a spa, a fitness center, and a game room.
- Villa Retreat - Villa Retreat is a beautiful heritage property that is situated near the Kodaikanal Lake. The hotel features well-furnished rooms, a multi-cuisine restaurant, a lovely garden, and a terrace that offers stunning views of the valley.
- Muncheez - This popular vegetarian restaurant is located in the heart of Kodaikanal and is known for its Indian and Chinese cuisine. The restaurant has a cozy ambiance that attracts both locals and tourists.
- Cloud Street - or a trendy dining experience in Kodaikanal, head to Cloud Street. This restaurant is located near Kodaikanal Lake and features a rooftop seating area with beautiful views of the valley. They provide a range of food, including Indian, Chinese, and continental.
- Tava Vegetarian Restaurant - Tava Vegetarian Restaurant is a great option for vegetarians and vegans in Kodaikanal. They offer delicious South Indian and North Indian vegetarian dishes, as well as Chinese and Continental cuisine.
- Ten Degrees - If you're looking for attentive service and a cozy atmosphere, Ten Degrees is a popular choice. They serve Indian, Chinese, and Continental cuisine and are known for their quality food.
- Aby's Cafe - Aby's Cafe is a charming eatery that serves a variety of dishes including sandwiches, pasta, pizzas, and desserts. They have a lovely outdoor seating area that provides stunning views of the valley.
- Nia's Garden Cafe - This hidden gem is located near Coaker's Walk and is a great option for a light meal. They serve delicious food such as salads, sandwiches, pasta, and desserts and offer a beautiful garden seating area.
- Astoria Veg Restaurant - Astoria Veg Restaurant is a vegetarian restaurant that serves South Indian and North Indian cuisine. They have a simple yet elegant ambiance that is popular with locals and tourists.
- Hilltop Inn Rooftop Restaurant - For a romantic dining experience, Hilltop Inn Rooftop Restaurant is a great option. They offer Indian, Chinese, and Continental cuisine and have a rooftop seating area that provides stunning views of the valley.
Malls & Best Places To Shop
- Coaker's Walk: This is a popular pedestrian pathway in Kodaikanal that offers scenic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Along the walkway, you'll find several shops and stalls selling souvenirs, local handicrafts, and clothing.
- Anna Salai Market: This is a bustling market area in Kodaikanal that sells a wide range of items, including clothing, footwear, spices, local handicrafts, and souvenirs. It's a great place to shop for traditional South Indian clothing and accessories.
- Khadi Emporium: This is a government-run store that sells handloom products made by local artisans. You can find a range of items here, including clothing, accessories, and home decor.
- Tibetan Market: As the name suggests, this market sells Tibetan handicrafts and souvenirs such as prayer flags, singing bowls, and jewelry. The market is located near the Kodaikanal Lake and is a popular spot for tourists.
Kodaikanal is not known for its shopping centers or malls, as it is mainly a hill station that is popular for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. Nonetheless, visitors can still find a range of small shops and markets that offer locally made goods such as handicrafts, clothes, handmade chocolates, and accessories.
Events And Festivals
- Pongal - A harvest festival celebrated in January that marks the beginning of the harvest season and is celebrated with great enthusiasm.
- Tamil New Year - Celebrated in mid-April, it is an essential festival in Kodaikanal marked by temple visits, wearing new clothes, and preparing special dishes.
- Summer Festival - An annual ten-day festival that takes place in May, featuring various cultural programs, flower shows, and a fruit and vegetable exhibition. The highlight of the festival is a boat race on Kodaikanal Lake.
- Natyanjali Festival - A dance festival held in February every year in the famous Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, which is about 150 km away from Kodaikanal. Classical dancers from all over the country come to perform here.
- Navratri - A nine-day festival celebrated in September or October every year, during which people worship the goddess Durga and participate in cultural programs.
- Diwali - A popular festival in Kodaikanal, celebrated in October or November every year. People light up their homes with diyas, burst crackers, and distribute sweets and savories.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Kodaikanal is during the months of September to May. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities like trekking, camping, and sightseeing. The monsoon season starts from June and lasts till August, which brings heavy rainfall to the region, making it difficult to travel and explore the place. However, if you enjoy the rain and want to experience the lush greenery, then you can visit during the monsoon season as well. The winter season starts from December and lasts till February, and during this time, the temperatures can drop to sub-zero levels, making it a chilly experience. Therefore, it is best to avoid visiting Kodaikanal during the winter season if you are not accustomed to cold weather.
How To Reach
- Air: The nearest airport to Kodaikanal is Madurai International Airport, which is about 120 km away. Visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Kodaikanal from the airport.
- Rail: Kodai Road, which is located roughly 80 kilometres from Kodaikanal, is the station that is closest to the city. Visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Kodaikanal from the railway station.
- Road: Kodaikanal is well-connected to major cities in Tamil Nadu and other neighboring states through state highways and national highways. Visitors can take a bus, hire a taxi, or drive to reach Kodaikanal by road.