The princess of hill stations

Kodaikanal track in the tea gardens

Cool down


At over 2,100 metres above sea level, Kodaikanal is a welcome breather from the hot lowlands of Tamil Nadu. The hill station was used by The British, escaping the heat of Madras during the mid 19th century, there are traces of British style houses and buildings all around the town.

There is a man-made lake which provides a nice walk of around 5 kilometers and a boat club that looks as if it could be on the Thames, although the various pedaloes sort of debunk this idea.

Kodaikanal is only about 120 kilometers from Madurai, but the drive up to the hillstation is pretty hairy at times as big buses take the hairpin bends in the middle of the road.

We were quite surprised (nicely surprised) that all disposable plastic is banned here, so make sure you have a refillable water bottle as your plastic water bottles could be taken away at the police post on the way up.

We came in January form the hustle and bustle of Madurai, so the quiet of Kodaikanal was very welcome, as were the daytime temeperatures of about 23°c, although the evenings and early mornings were pretty cold. Our driver said that it had snowed during the night when we were ther, although I think it was really just a frost, which we saw on the cars in the morning.

Morning in the Western Ghats
Kodaikanal lake

Around Kodaikanal

Coaker’s walk, a paved pathway built by a certain Lt. Coaker in the 19th century ias an easy 1 kilometer walk with fabulous views when it is not shrouded by thick cloud – which is quite often.

There are some other points where the views are breathtaking including Dolphon’s nose, Suicide point and Pillar Rocks, although when we went the visibility was down to about ten meters, so we could only imagine how fabulous the view was from the misty car park.

What to see

Waterfall outside Kodaikanal

The undoubted attraction of Kodaikanal are the views that can be see from the town, although you could get unlucky as we did, where all the viewpoints are hidden by thick cloud. There are also some waterfalls in the area, including Bear Shola falls and Fairy falls and may can be seen on the way up from the road to the town.

It is definitely a great place for treking, not only due to the beautiful, unspoilt forest and countryside, but the weather makes it very doable.

Getting there

Fruit stall Kodaikanal

We drove up from the busy city of Madurai, stopping off for some fresh coconut water and local tea on the way up to Kodaikanal.

There are places to stop on the way up to drink in the beautiful views, which is adviseable if you can as when you get to the top you may not get another chance if the clouds close in.

There are warning signs in some of the parking spots about wild animals, apparently tigers, leopard and elephants are not uncommon here, along with the usual snakes found throughout southern India, although we saw nothing. 

However, on our last day here, we left early in the morning to get to Polacchi and our road was blocked by a stubborn Indian biffalo who just stared back at us and took his time to let us get on our way, which was nice to see.

Food and drink

We ate a a crowded restaurant, The Astoria Veg Restaurant, in the centre of the town at lunchtime, which was a really nice mix of Tamil and Kerala food in a setting that was more like a canteen than a restaurant, but it was very good.

On the way to the restaurant there are several food stalls selling anything tandoori – fish, chicken, quails and vegetables, which looked good, but as the Astoria was recommended to us, we made a bee-line there.

We had dinner in The Sterling Hotel, where we stayed, which was fabulous, where they also serve cocktails in a nice cosy bar that feels like it could have been visited by officers of the British Raj. The hotel was great as too was the food.

Rooftops Kodaikanal b&w

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