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Tourist Places To Visit In Kodaikanal
Nestled among the mountains of the Western Ghats, Kodaikanal is a charming hill station, made popular by its atmosphere and ambience-lofty mountain tops, green carpeted slopes, sparkling mountain streams, waterfalls and tall mahogany, eucalyptus, cypress and cinchona trees.
Enclosed amidst the lush foliage and lofty trees are ancient churches built by the English and American missionaries and temples. The whole town seems to be enclosed in an atmosphere of natural beauty and an old world charm. There are so many places you can visit in Kodaikanal. We’ll give you a list of some of them but there are umpteen more waiting to be discovered.
Kodai Lake is the hottest tourist attractions of Kodaikanal. The star shaped manmade lake sits in the heart of the town, further accentuated by the lush fertile Palani Hills that surround it. It’s amazing to know that the Lake was fashioned out of three mountain streams that flowed through the area all the way from Palani Hills. A bund was made around the streams and the Kodai Lake was ready!
The Lake was created in 1863 by Sir Leve Henry Levinge, an Irishman, who was the Collector of Madurai in that period. The Lake sees a good number of tourists during peak seasons and has a plethora of activities to indulge in.
Silver Cascade Waterfalls
About 8 km downstream, the Kodai Lake plunges down into the magnificent Silver Cascade Waterfalls. The waterfall that gushes down rocky gradients from about 180 ft high is situated on the Ghat Road as one drives along from Madurai to Kodaikanal.
Tourists often take a break near the Waterfalls for a photo shoot, to browse at the little shops close by and relax at the small park that has been set up at the foot of the falls. There are a number of monkeys around, sure to enliven the surroundings further. The Silver Cascade is a great place to visit in monsoon.
When you are visiting Kodai Lake, don’t miss out on the Bryant Park on the eastern side of the Lake. British Army Officer Glenn Bryant takes the honour of having landscaped the 20.5 acres of Botanical Park in 1908, which has become more popular with the annual Flower and Vegetable Show held in May. The park has many a number of flowering plants and trees including about 740 varieties of roses, as well as an ancient Bodhi and Eucalyptus tree.
Bryant Park does get busy as a bee in summer, what with the Flower Show and Summer Festival in full swing and the region carpeted with flowers in myriad hues. The Park is open from 9.00am-4.00pm on all days.
Shenbaganur Natural Science Museum
Shenbaganur Natural Science Museum has an exquisite collection of flora and fauna, archaeological artefacts unearthed from the dolmen circle, that were used by the ancient Palaiyar tribals who lived in Kodaikanal, taxidermied specimens of snakes, human embryos and gigantic insects as well as about 300 varieties of orchids in the Orchidarium. The Museum which is maintained by Sacred Heart College, a theology seminary, is about 4 km from Kodaikanal as you move downhill, eastward from the main town. You can visit anytime from 9.00am-5.00pm.
Bear Shola Falls
The Bear Shola Waterfalls have quite an interesting origin to its name. The luxuriant richness of the Shola forest ranges that encircle the waterfalls and the bears that had once upon a time visited the falls to drink water are what make the Bear Shola Falls. The Bear Shola Waterfalls is a seasonal one that puts on its best performance in the monsoons.
It’s beautiful to watch the waters cascading down on the gently rolling rounded boulders, the only sound that break the stillness of the forest being the chirping of birds and the rustle of water.
Bear Shola Falls is about 3 km from the Kodaikanal Bus stand. You’ll have to trek along through the forest for about a kilometre to reach the Falls.
La Saleth Church
La Saleth shrine was the first Catholic Church to be built in Kodaikanal and is said to be about 150 years old. It’s a small quaint church done with Tamil French architectural styles and with blue white interiors. La Saleth Church in Kodaikanal is said to be one of the two Churches built in memory of Lady of La Saleth, while the Lady of La Lasalette Church is in France.
Annual Feast of Our Lady is celebrated on 15th August, with thousands of pilgrims visiting the shrine during the festivities, which includes a vibrant carnival. La Saleth Church is about 2 km from the Kodaikanal bus stop.
Kurinji Andavar Temple
This is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Subrahmanya and is called Kurinji Andavar after the Kurinji flowers that bloom around the temple once in 12 years and also because Kurinji denotes a hilly region and Andavar is the one who rules over the Hills. The Kurinji Andavar temple is said to have been built in 1936 by an European lady who converted into Hinduism, married a man called Ramanathan and came to be called Lady Ramanathan.
The bright colours of the statues of the Gopuram (tower) are in stark contrast to the misty greenery of the surroundings. You can see undulating hillsides, valleys and the Vaigai Dam from the elevated hillock where the temple is situated. A 3 km uphill trek from Kodai Lake will take you to the temple.
Solar Observatory Museum
The Solar Observatory Museum which is one of the oldest Observatories in India was built in 1898 and is a part of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. You can visit the Astronomy Museum which has images and models and a display of the Fraunhofer Spectrum. There is a Refractor for comet observations and visitors are occasionally permitted to use the Refractor for viewing the night sky. Children will find a trip to the Museum interesting for they can observe the night-time sky from the Solar Observatory.
The Observatory is open for tourists from 1st April to 15th June from 10.00am-12.00pm and from 2.00pm-4.00pm. For the rest of the months, tourists can visit the Observatory from 10.00am-12.00pm only on Fridays. The Observatory which lies at an altitude of 2343 m in the Palani Hills, is about 4 km from Kodaikanal.
Vattakanal is something akin to a little Kodaikanal. Vattakanal hamlet surrounds a vattam or circular valley and is a most idyllic place for trekking and spending a holiday getaway. Vattakanal is abundantly green, with pine needles crunching under your feet and Indian gaur sauntering around as free as you please!
The Vattakanal Waterfalls is made up of about four smaller waterfalls and is best seen in monsoon. Nearest tourist places are the Lion’s Cave, Dolphin’s Nose and Suicide Point view. The ambience is cool for photo shoots. Vattakanal Waterfalls are about 3 km from Kodaikanal.
Moir Point named after Sir Thomas Moir, an engineer who constructed the Goschen Road in 1929 is enroute the Berijam Lake. The Moir Point has a small park, a monument for Sir Thomas Moir and amazing sights of the peaks around Kodaikanal. It’s all misty and green and you can imagine how abundantly camera-friendly the place would be.
There are some shops selling basic necessities as well as a watch tower which can be climbed up for a nicer view of the surroundings. The place does tend to get crowded during peak tourist seasons, so you can opt for an early visit so you can enjoy the sights. Moir Point is about 10 km from the Kodaikanal bus stand.