Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kodaikanal Summer Tour: The Cool Gift of the Forest

Recently, due to excessive urbanization, Bangalore also has started facing summers in March-April. Garden city where there was no need of fan, today, has become the house of air conditioners. To beat this heat, we set out to the "Princess of Hill stations"- Kodaikanal!

Established in 1845 by British as their summer homes, Kodaikanal is decorated with Meadows and grasslands that cover the hillsides. Gigantic Eucalyptus trees and shola forests flourish in the valleys. English countryside bungalows are very common. Honestly, this land of Kurunji flowers those which blossom once in 12 years, I never expected it to be this beautiful and cold(15-20 degree Celsius)!

From Bangalore it is overnight journey to the nearest railway station- Kodai Road. From there to Kodaikanal is 80kms. Dindigul junction is the previous station to Kodai Road(you can wake up at Dindigul station!). Since we were six of us- we travelled to and fro in a travera and an innova respectively. You’ll easily realize the difference in weather, flora & fauna when you travel to hill station from railway station! To put it in taxi drivers one word difference- “Chillness”.

#Kodaikanal Lake is what defines Kodaikanal. Interestingly this is an artificial, roughly star-shaped 60 acres lake built in 1863. We could sight couples spending their honeymoon in rowboats and pedalos at the Kodaikanal Boat Club located in this lake. Even we did boating in pedalos!
There are numerous shops and roadside eateries surrounding this lake. Early morning, we hired bicycles and rode in the 5 kilometres path that skirts the periphery of this lovely lake. The reflection of pines, clouds, drizzling rain, sun and moon in this spacious beautiful lake, can make anyone a poet!

#Coaker's Walk, 500 metres from the bus-stand, was constructed by Lt. Coaker in 1872, is a 1-kilometre paved pedestrian path running along the edge of steep slopes. We saw couple of telescope observatories and honestly, were a letdown. Apparently, you can see rainbow in the cloud if the
Sun is behind telescope. Anyways we were not that lucky enough. It was a very scenic walk. We did some shopping here since there were lot vendors selling earrings, eucalyptus oil, homemade chocolates and spices.

#Dolphin's Nose, 8 kilometres from the bus stand, is flat rock projecting over a breathtaking chasm 6,600 feet deep. To reach there, it takes a small trek of 2kms in a trail that steeply descends and might slip as well. You can spot ladies selling short snacks from their individual homes in this trail. Couple of viewpoints makes this small walk interesting- mid way to Dolphin’s nose, there is Mountain valley view and further down Dolphin’s nose, there is echo point. It rained a bit when we were there. Looking down at the symmetric Palani hills is in fact, pure bliss!

#Kodai- By The Lake by Sterling Holidays resort is situated on the banks of the picturesque Kodai Lake and styled on the lines of English countryside to compliment the English styled villages that dot Kodaikanal. In this beautiful resort, we had rented a duplex 2-bhk for a day which came with excellent service, excellent living room and breathtaking views. Nalla irukku!

#Food might be a topic of concern if you crave for spicy dishes. If you love having idly, dosa, rice, rasam and sambar- it won’t be much of problem! We had 2 meals, i.e., breakfast and dinner at the Hotel Eden Park, approximately 20kms from Kodai Road railway station. I can easily recommend this place. At Kodaikanal, previous day lunch at Woodlands hilltop restaurant made us turn to Dominos for the next day. The best part- having Moroccan mint tea while the sun starts to fade behind clouds and mercury touching around
15 degrees Celsius in April. Also, we didn’t miss to grab a bite of roadside bread toast, cuppa noodles, and sandwiches, masala teas with biscuits, vadai, sweet corn, peaches, tree tomatoes, passion fruits and baby carrots!

#Missed places- Pine forest where movie are shot, Pillar rocks, waterfalls due to lack of water and eating at Astoria hotel, highly rated local eatery!

[Thanks Pranita, Aditi, Rashmika, Supraj and Anudeep for making this trip memorable.]