This is continuation from my last travel post on Ooty. Kodaikanal is another very popular hill station of south India, situated on a plateau of upper Palani Hills at a modest altitude of 2,133 metres, contributing to the eastward spur of the majestic Western Ghats. The tourist hub of Kodaikanal is the artificial yet beautiful Kodai Lake, located at the center of the town. Apart from its reputation in being honeymooners’ paradise and richness of flora, Kodaikanal also boasts of the unique Kurinji Flower, which blooms in December once in 12 years, painting the entire valley with blue hue! The last blooming of Kurinji was recorded on 2006. Guys, now you know when to plan your trip to Kodaikanal, of course if you want to witness the rare blue sight. The goodnight sleep had rekindled my traveling spirit sunken by last day’s tedious bus journey of around 290 kilometers.
|Kodai Lake is an artificial star shaped lake in the center of the town and serves as the most significant tourist landmark of Kodaikanal.|
By morning seven, we got ready to commence our local sightseeing at Kodaikanal. A mini tour bus took us to the Upper Lake Viewpoint in 15-20 minutes. As the name suggests, Upper Lake View gives an aerial view of the Kodai Lake. I don’t know whether it was due to the fog obscuring my vision or the abundant bushes around the viewpoint, I didn’t find the view scenic enough to write good things about it. Our next destination was Green Valley Viewpoint which offers excellent panoramic vista of the plains and used to provide ideal suicide point to determined individuals due to its optimum 1,500 meters of steep drop. Presently the viewpoint has been fortified by railings to keep a check on suicidal individuals. Once again my photography luck turned out to be poor due to the morning haze interfering with the long distance transparency. Otherwise it could have been a tremendously scenic sight!
|Pillar Rocks nest many endangered species and give excellent view of Agamalai with steep sides of plains of Periyakulam.|
Next we moved to Pillar Rock Park from where one can see a group of two huge steep cliffs, almost 500 feet high from the ground level. Several caves have been found between as well as below them. Pillar Rocks nest many endangered species like- Crested serpent eagle, Black eagle, Honey bazard etc and give excellent view of Agamalai with steep sides of plains of Periyakulam. It is said that, once upon a time a French guy had hiked up the cliff to fix a white cross at its top. Tourists are encouraged to spot that ‘might be present’ white cross. Neither me, nor my telephoto lens could find even a slightest hint of that cross. There was an organic golf course adjacent to the park but ‘members only’ sign stopped me from stepping into the curvy green meadow. The much needed breakfast followed soon.
|Silver Cascade Waterfall which is formed by the outflow of Kodai Lake, located few kilometers outside the town of Kodaikanal.|
Our post-breakfast destination for Kodaikanal sightseeing was the Coaker’s Walk, almost a kilometer-long paved path running along the edge of the steep slopes on the southern side of Kodai, from where one can enjoy the picture-perfect panoramic view of the plains below. We came to know that on a clear day, one can see the valley of the Pambar River in southeast, Dolphin’s nose in the south, Periyakulam town and even the city of Madurai! But focus on the word ‘clear day’. Yes, weather wasn’t so pleased with us right from the morning, especially when it came to various viewpoints. There is an observatory with telescope inside the Coaker’s Walk and numerous hawkers and fruit sellers to refuel tourist pedestrians. Coaker’s Walk is also ideal Sunrise and Sunset view point of Kodaikanal but, when you’ve to put up with restrictions of being in a packaged tour there are plenty of good things you're compelled to miss.
|Two fruit-seller boys inside the Coaker’s Walk.|
Just opposite to our entrance to the Coaker’s Walk there was one of the entrances to Bryant Park, a neatly maintained park cum botanical garden situated on the eastern side of Kodai Lake. Bryant Park is rich with around 325 plant species ranging from tree to cactus. Horticulture exhibition and flower show is organized in Bryant Park every summer in the peak tourist season. In this park you’ll find too many varieties of rose and dahlia flowers, a sure delight to macro/flower photographers! After exiting through the main entrance of the Bryant Park I realized its close proximity to the Kodai Lake. The nearby lakeside is bordered with Tibetan woolen shops and homemade chocolate/spice tea counters. I tasted pure honey from a mobile honey seller. It’s not like taking honey by a spoon. You’ll be given a chunk of beehive dipped in honey and you’ve to feel and chew it with the dexterity of your tongue like a bubblegum!
|I had tasted pure honey from this mobile honey seller.|
The Kodaikanal Lake or, the Kodai Lake is an artificial star shaped lake, in the center of Kodaikanal town with a rough circumference of 5 to 6 kilometers and certainly the most significant tourist landmark in the town. There are 2-3 boat houses to offer you nice boating experience on the Kodai Lake. Obviously there are option for both pedal boats and rowing boats. There are also horses and bicycles available for rent to explore the lakeside beauties. What I found interesting was, even cycles for nursery kids were available to be hired, i.e. there was something for everybody! I took a bicycle and gave a few rounds of the lake enjoying the activities of my co-tourists, uncountable boats floating on the lake and hawkers on the road. When I got tired of cycling, I opted for pedal-boating. Sitting still on a boat in the middle of a lake while passively watching others to pass by your side is an unadulterated bliss and one of those rare moments in your busy life when you transiently get oblivious of all stressful stimuli.
|These bicycles might look attractive on screen but equally deceptive while trying out with a pillion!|
There are few more places of tourist interest in and around Kodaikanal, like- Bear Shola Falls, Dolphin’s Nose, Museum of Natural History, Kurinji Temple, Berijam lake etc, but when you’re in a package tour you can’t expect to explore everything which you would have otherwise done. That's how my summer trip to Mysore, Ooty and Kodaikanal concluded with a late lunch. Our bus left for return trip to Bangalore by 4 PM and on the way out from Kodaikanal we stopped for our last sightseeing- the Silver Cascade Waterfall which is formed by the outflow of Kodai Lake, located few kilometers outside the town of Kodaikanal. After that our journey went uneventful till we reached Bangalore in the ghostly hour of 04:00 AM to bid goodbye to fellow travelers with half closed eyes. The road throughout was so good that no mark of exhaustion was left on me even after a 12 hours of bus journey (and that too in a non-Volvo bus!). Well, in my next blog post I’ll end this series with a much needed review of KSTDC tour package, where I’ll speak about their staffs, services, bus and hotels. Till then, take good care!