With no dearth of information available on famous hill stations like Kodaikanal, there isn't any need to write a blog. But would share "how to spend a week in Kodai" as I had a long stay of 8 days (!!) for a real relaxing holiday.
Kodai By Lake. Recently renovated, rooms are spacious and well maintained, has a classy British Colonial look. Hotel is at a walk distance from Lake in isolated location, a real calm place. Activity room of the hotel is ok types. Superb food quality is worth mentioning. It being a Christmas week, each night had some themed Gala dinners which offered awesome delicacies of Malabar, Continental, Caribbean cuisines.
Kerala Ayurvedic Center run by the hotel is also worth to soak your body in relaxing mood. Its run by professionally trained staff is Ayurvedic massage and offers various packages which you can use during a week long stay.
Last week of December 2012. Being a holiday season, I was fearing a mad rush, but thankfully, it wasnt so.
Clear and was at its best. Temperature hardly went down to minimum 8 degree. I was expecting much more chilly winter. Daytimes were cool and pleasant making it a perfect time for walks and short treks.
Things to Do and places to see:
Kodai is best enjoyed at the slow pace. Walking, cycling, trekking, horse riding should be the mode of transport. Places like Kodai Lake, Coaker' Walk etc. should be visited during different times of day like early morning, daytime, late evening, in fog etc. to experience the different colors and mood of mother nature.
- Kodai Lake is best place for a walk of 4.5 kms around its perimeter. So it is for cycling. Shikara boats offer a magnificent rides especially when its foggy.
- Coaker's Walk provides very picturesque view of the valley and plains. Depending on the time of visit, you would different depths of the valley. Make it to it early morning, in noon and late evening. Also, preferably take a walk of 3 kms from the lake to Coaker's Walk. While returning you can easily get a cab or walk till Bus Stand to get a cab. A walk to La Sallete Church past TV tower would be a pleasant experience of passing through woods.
- Bear Shola Falls is another attraction which can be covered on foot. Its around 2 kms from Lake.
- Bryant Park situated on the banks of lake on eastern side can be visited during any of the visits to the lake. Not a very great place but do take a walk inside the park along its periphery.
- A walk of 3.5 kms from Lake would take you to Solar Observatory which is more than 75 years old. You can watch the scheduled shows on Friday (10 - 12 AM).
- Do take a walk of 10 kms right from the Lake to the Dolphin Nose passing through Coaker's Walk, TV Tower, La Salette Church, Pambar shola, Pambar falls, Vattakanal down to Dolphin's Nose. You can hire a cab as well but you would miss a great journey of walking through the woods. If this is too much of a adventure, take a cab till Coaker's walk and then take a walk of 7 kms. But bear in mind that you wont get a cab on return journey until you come back again to Coaker's walk. We along with a kid of 6 years could easily make this trip both sides walking. Also, on the way from Pambar falls till Dolphin's nose, you would come across many small eateries offering tea, water, cold drinks, snacks etc. Dont do much of daring near this place. A very deep valley awaits beneath for you !. Once you are there and have enjoyed Doplhi's Nose, take a walk in opposite direction to see magnificent view of other side of the valley. While returning, we could spot 3 bisons standing very near to the road. Plan one total day for this trek of Dolphin's Nose.
- Arrange a cab for half a day to visit places like Devils' Kitchen (or Guna Caves), Green Valley View, Upper Lake View, Pillar Rocks and Pine Forest. At Guna Caves, just dont return from this spot in hurry, instead take a 10-15 minutes walk uphill on right side to reach the peak through dense woods to see the valley. You can spend one hour or so at this place.
- Spear one day for visit to Berijam Lake. Arrange a cab for full day exercusion to this magnificient lake. At 9.00 AM reach the District Forest Office to get the permission. Its around 28 kms from Lake. On the way, you can stop and spend time on numerous view points of the valley. You can spend the day walking along the lake, visiting local temple and just strolling inside the forest. keep in mind to take food and water bottles along with you.
1. I booked cab through hotel for Coimbatore Airport to Kodaikanal. There is no need to book in advance. One can book on the spot at Combarore airport at much cheaper rate. (INR 2800 against INR 3500). Also, while returning booked the local cab which charged INR 2500 !
2. Try to reach Coimbatore (if you are taking this route) before 02.00 PM so that you can enjoy the scenic 4 hour drive to Kodaikanal.
3. En route, do stop at Palani to have local south indian delicacies for your evening snacks.
4. Dont engage local tour operators/hotel for site seeing. They tend to cover too many spots for a day. Instead book a taxi and provide your tour plan so that you can enjoy at your leisure. I booked a cab from the Taxi stand just outside the Hotel and used same cab for all sight seeing for return journey to Coimbatore Airport.
5. Try to visit Berijam Lake during your initial stay, reason being it requires Forest Department's permission to enter the area and Permission is given on daily basis and not in advance. Also, Forest Officers might decide not to give permission on any day due to reasons like Animal troubles, Government visits etc. I got permission on second attempt.
6. You can get the information on various trekking spots and hire a guide at tourist center. Tourist Office (Govt. of Tamil Nadu): Township Bus Stand Rest House Complex (Next to Bus Stand), Kodaikanal, Phone: 241675.