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Things To Do In Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal is a tiny, yet picturesque world of pure virgin nature. Everything about the town is brushed with the multihued strokes of bright and beautiful landscapes. Kodaikanal is a place for unhurried tranquil activities that are bound to perk you up. So go ahead and trek along untrodden paths and precipices, boat on the lakes, explore the pine forests or just stroll round the town. We’ll tell you about all the things you can do in Kodaikanal, the best souvenirs to buy, about the delicious food of Kodaikanal, especially the chocolates, their festivals and the places you can stay in.
Now, this is one of the best things you can do in Kodaikanal. Even a short trek will open up vistas of beautiful locales that will leave you awestruck. There are easy routes for amateurs and families like those to the Bear Shola Waterfalls and Pine Forests and harder treks to Dolphin’s Nose, Pillar Rocks, Vattakanal and through the elephant corridor in the Elephant Valley Falls. One of the most popular is the Perumal Valley Trek which gives trekkers the opportunity to camp overnight in the camping grounds.
The Kodaikanal Boat and Rowing Club is said to have been formed way back in 1940. Sailing across the Kodai Lake is a trendy pastime in Kodaikanal irrespective of the season. You can choose from pedal or paddle boats, row boats and Kashmiri Shikara also known as honeymoon boats. If you have finished a trip across the lake, hire a horse for a trot or a bicycle to explore roundabout the lake. The misty Kodai Lake is a good place to spend a summer evening at. There are plenty of snack shops near the lake where you could always get a bite.
Imagine a weekend getaway in Kodaikanal camping under the stars, surrounded by lush greenery and cascading waterfalls. That is just one of the delightful things you can do in Kodaikanal. Bathe in the waterfalls, play a game of volleyball in the plains and trek to the hidden woods close by. Have a barbeque at night, swapping stories beside the campfire. Some of the trendiest camping locales are Mannavanur and Vattakanal, if you wouldn’t mind the curious gaurs.
A Place to Meditate
Check out the Kodaikanal Yoga Centre for rejuvenating sessions on yoga and meditation. It’s perhaps what one might call nirvana amongst nature. The centre is located in a secluded ecological farm called Karuna Farm in the midst of a woody forest, with streams and waterfalls, at an altitude of about 1800 m. There are courses on ecological living and healing arts you might find interesting. There is a restaurant, a library, a community kitchen and plenty of places to go trekking.
The Kodaikanal Yoga Centre is open from 8.00am-5.00pm on all days. The Centre is about 12 km from Kodaikanal.
If you are foot weary after traipsing through those trekking trails, spend a calm, peaceful evening in the Chettiar Park. It’s a quaint landscaped garden with exotic flower beds, pruned hedges, stately trees, footpaths for a walk and stone benches where you can sit. The Chettiar Park is especially known for its patches of Kurinji flowers. The Park is about 3.2 km from the Kodaikanal Bus stand, enroute to the Kurinji Andavar Temple.
Apart from the conventional Pongal and Chithirai festivals, Kodaikanal celebrates Natyanjali Dance festival (February-March) in which dancers participate from all over India. Mother Salette Festival on the 14-15th of August and Miladi Sherif in April on the birth day of Mohammed the Prophet are accompanied by community prayers and a grand feast. The Grand Summer Festival in May that has flower and fruit shows and boat races and the 3-day Tea and Tourism Festival in January where you can taste varieties of tea and buy them, too are the hill town’s feast days. Most festivities are accompanied by cultural programmes and a feast of South Indian cuisines.
There are a number of things that are particular to Kodaikanal that you can buy to remember your trip by. Sandalwood, marble and walnut crafts, perfumed candles and aromatic oils, tea and coffee, organic food, spices, stoles and shawls, exotic fruits like avocados, cherries, tart tree tomatoes and hill bananas, varieties of special Kodai cheese, pottery and of course plenty of homemade chocolates and marshmallows are some of Kodaikanal’s specialities.
When it comes to cuisine, Kodaikanal seems to harbour a cosmopolitan outlook and it is great to saunter around town finding a cool place to eat. Some eateries are quite tiny and nondescript but you do get some real good homemade food there. Apart from the customary South Indian food, you get North Indian Thali meals, Tibetan, Yemeni and Continental food, hot coffee and masala tea.
If you are a foodie, take a walk around Kodai Lake for the delicious munchies you can get-roasted corn-on-the-cob, baby carrots, boiled peanuts and bread omelettes.
You will find a number of accommodations in Kodaikanal depending on your choice of location and funds. You can find places to stay near the Kodai Lake or Bryant’s Garden or Coaker’s Walk that is easily accessible to most other places of tourist interest. There are high end resorts, OYO rooms, cottages, homestays and budget friendly hotels.
If you are planning a trip to Vattakanal you’ll find pretty individual cottages or rooms let out with fireplaces for winter. When fixing up accommodation, find yourself a room which will give you a beautiful sight of the countryside around. You could always pull up a chair and sit by the window with a cup of hot chocolate.
Kodaikanal is not ideally suited to be a place for late night parties. There are resorts in Kodaikanal that arrange for night safaris into the wilds. Otherwise you could stroll around the place, camera in hand for a nightly photo shoot. The Kodai Lake looks graceful at night, looking bright and silvery with the iridescent lights from the buildings on the banks. There are just a handful of watering holes like the Oasis for a pint.
The ideal night out would be an after dinner walk when you can imbibe some fresh air before hitting the bed.