If you are looking for a quiet retreat but not too far away from anywhere, then Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu can be a good choice. One of India's picturesque hill stations, it lies about 115km away by road from Madurai. Cascading waterfalls, especially after the monsoon, verdant slopes, various parks and a lively market area are the major attractions.
Bear Shola Falls
Three km from the Kodaikanal bus stand, the waterfalls lies hidden within a dense forest. Although the falls are largely monsoon dependent, the one km walk through the forest to reach the fall is quite a pleasant experience.
The landscaped park on the eastern side of Kodaikanal Lake, is named after the British officer who founded it. Don’t miss the flowers in the glass house. Park entry fees applicable.
You can visit this park, 3km from town, when you visit the Kurinji Andavar Temple. Church of South India. See the CSI’s stained glass paintings come alive in the morning as the light filters through.
Go early for a stroll along the paved way and if the weather is clear, you will be rewarded with a pleasant valley view. Entry fees applicable.
The view point offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside stretching across the valley. But the 3km-long trek can be strenuous for regular travellers, especially elderly people. Be very cautious as you walk along the unguarded narrow path.
Green Valley View
About 5km from the Kodai Lake, it offers a picturesque view of the Vaigai Dam located below.
Nestling in the middle of verdant slopes, the Kodaikanal Lake or the Kodai Lake, 3km from the bus stand, was built in 1863. The 5km walkway along the lake’s perimeter is good for a stroll but can be very crowded during peak season. Children can go on a pony ride here. Visitors consider boating a must-do.
Kurinji Andavar Temple
Dedicated to Lord Muruga, the temple takes its name from the indigenous Kurinji flower that blooms once in 12 years. You can see the Palani and Vaigai Dam from this hill-top temple, located 3km from the Kodai Lake.
La Saleth Church
Dedicated to Our Lady of La Saleth, it is located near Coaker’s Walk.
Offers a bird’s eye view of the surrounding valleys. 3km from Pillar Rocks.
Seven km from Kodai Lake, these are three 122metre high rocks. Known to local trekkers and cavern xplorers, the place shot to fame after the Tamil film Guna was shot here.
A great place to sample a whole range of cuisines without stretching your budget. A favourite haunt of students. While in Kodai, do not forget to buy the homemade chocolates; but make a survey first as some shops sell at a steeper price.
Looked after by the Sacred Heart College, the museum is about 5km from the Kodai Lake and has an excellent orchidarium. The museum is also home to a few archaeological finds, especially prehistoric finds unearthed in the Dolmen Circle (18km away) region. Closed on Tuesdays. Entry fees applicable.
The overflowing waters of the Kodai Lake, drop 180feet to form this waterfall, located 8km ahead of town as you climb uphill via Kodai Road.
Solar Physical Laboratory
Visit the astronomy museum located in the Kodaikanal Observatory (4km from town) of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. Usually open to public on Fridays, 10am to 12pm, it is open for a longer period between April 1 and June 15.
Also known as the Rat Tail Falls, this 975feet high waterfalls is said to be third largest fall in India. However, there is no path to approach this waterfall and it can be seen from the Ghat Road travelling upwards to Kodaikanal town. The Dumdum Rock view point is the best place to see the waterfall.
Upper Lake View Point
The view point, a little over 3km from Coaker’s Walk, is on the way to Green Valley View Point. This is one of the best places from where you can see the star-shaped Kodai Lake.
Berijam Lake View
About 19km from Kodai Lake, it offers a panoramic view of the Berijam Lake. Entry to the lake further away is subject to permission from the Forest Department office in Kodaikanal town.
Nearly 64km from Kodaikanal, this is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya and a popular pilgrim centre.