Whatever said and done, we should thank the British for at least one thing — our hill stations. Because they were so troubled by the excessive summer heat, they ventured forth in search of places that reminded them of home, and thus we got access to the spots which hitherto had been unknown and hamlets tucked away in the middle of nowhere. One such gem is Kodaikanal, and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with a canal; it’s a portmanteau of Tamil words Kodai and Kanal.
Kodaikanal is one of those places that still give you an inkling of what the landscape might have been during the Raj. It is a quaint little place nestled in the hills and bordered by swathes of forest. A key speciality is the flower called Kurinji, which blooms every 12 years, and is currently in blossom.
If you are planning to visit, depending on your preference, you can either chill out at any of the myriad numbers of hotels or be the quintessential tourist who prefers to be out all the time with his camera. However, if you leave without buying the famous homemade chocolates, spices and oils, you would miss out on something special.
If you are planning to do the tourist thing, you must first start with the Kodaikanal Lake. Built in 1863, it is a man-made lake. As the place is teeming with tourists, you can get to see some very unusual-looking buses. I managed to see one which had porn stars painted all over it!
A long-ish hike from the lake brings you to a set of rocks called Pillar Rock. The cave on the far side of the pillars was earlier aptly named Devil’s Kitchen because of the mist which mysteriously appeared to emanate from it.
Continuing with the lakes, another must-visit place is Berijam Lake. The guides were at a loss to explain its relationship with Berry Jam. The lake is situated at about an hour’s drive from the town, surrounded by forests.
Boating is prohibited on this calm and serene freshwater lake as it is a source of water for the neighbouring villages. And for some unknown reason, the forest department has put up cutouts of animals and tourists are happy taking their photos as if they are real. While moving towards the lake, you come across even more scenic spots.
First up is Silent Valley View. True to its name, the valley is silent, and the view is simply breathtaking, but only if you visit it on a clear day. On days the place is teeming with tourists, it is anything but silent.
There is also the so-called ‘forest of forgetfulness’. Legend has it that you will forget everything if you step into this densely wooded stretch.
Next (as described by Lonely Planet), “Located around 5 km from Kodaikanal Lake, next to the golf club, is Green Valley view point, from where on a clear day, you can see views of the Vaigai Dam. The valley is almost 5,000 ft deep and was earlier known as Suicide Point. There are barbed wires now, however, monkeys continue to be a hassle here.”
The next unmissable thing to do is a trek to Periyakulam. It is a track running through the jungle and dotted by waterfalls. If you are in luck, you may come across a bison.
And last, but not the least, is Coaker’s Walk. This walk, built by a British officer in 1872, is a short stretch running along the edge of steep slopes.
The walk offers sweeping views of the valley and is a must if you are a photography buff as it offers some stunning landscapes. It has benches so you can sit and take in the view.
The Tamara Kodai
This new luxurious resort in a spectacular colonial building elevates your holiday experience and lets you soak up the beauty of the place
There are a host of options if you want a luxurious stay in Kodaikanal. A new and notable addition is The Tamara Kodai. It is built around a former monastery named ‘La Providence’, which is a spectacular colonial building historically known to be one of the first to come up in Kodaikanal. Today, it has been restored and expanded into a getaway tucked away in some of the most beautiful hills in south India.
The Tamara Kodai has 53 suites of French provincial design. Each suite has a bedroom with a large balcony, living room, and an attached bathroom. Each suite features wooden floors, colonial interiors, room heaters, exhaustive in-room amenities, complimentary high-speed internet, LED TV with satellite channels, and 24-hour room service.
The property also offers boardroom and conference facilities which include a ball room accommodating more than 200 guests with a spacious pre-function area. Wellness facilities include the elevation spa, fitness centre, temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool and pool lounge.
Shruti Shibulal, CEO, Tamara Leisure Experiences Pvt Ltd, said, “The launch of the Tamara Kodai is a proud moment for us. Tamara Leisure Experiences was established with a vision of creating world-class resorts and hotels around the world with a focus on responsible tourism and unique experiences for our guests. The launch of this property, our second luxury resort, marks an important milestone in our journey. The Tamara Kodai is all set to establish a new benchmark in the hospitality industry in India as one of its premiere luxury heritage resorts.”