Kodai – Above the clouds, gateway to heaven
We have two main fascinations when it comes to travelling in India; Himalayas and the Western Ghats. While Himalayas is an infinite package in itself where one lifetime is not enough to cover even a small piece of it, it’s smaller brother down south western Ghat ranges offer some similar features such as captivating Ghat roads, beautiful hill stations.
Kodai is one such destination which will satiate our thirst for hill stations. In fact, it is worth noting that Kodaikanal is at an altitude of close to 7000 ft, few hundred meters higher than Manali (we always compare with Manali just to get a gauge of where these hill stations stand). Kodai is probably the most beautiful hill station in South India; Probably that’s why this place is often called as the “Queen of Hill stations”. This is such a cool place that none of the hotels or resorts here has fans installed in the rooms.
We checked into a place called “Villa Retreat”, a small and a quaint resort, but very close to the centre of the town, the Kodai Lake. The views from the resort are breath taking making us relax in the lawn for long time during our stay. The wooden rooms with town view from the balcony were well maintained.
Travelling in South India is incomplete without a mention of the food. The food served in this place is out of the world. The hot, smooth and delicious Idlis, dosas with a combination of assorted South Indian chutneys had us mesmerised throughout our stay. Having this breakfast, with a view of the town from the top was in fact a great start to each of days here.
While kodai has many scenic places to visit, the best thing to do is take a walk in the through the beautiful roads leading to the main town. Evenings are the best time for it as we can feel the chill of the wind and also the town goes to laid back mode once the sun sets in. Of course, some interesting shopping waits us in terms of handmade chocolates, woollen wear, handlooms dresses etc.
The key attraction as you approach kodai is the silver cascade waterfalls, after a long ride from any of the nearby towns. There are few shops which sell fruits and refreshments; this is a pit stop for many of the tourists travelling to Kodai. Of course, beware of the monkeys which try to snatch anything from your hands.
Another favourite and a leisure activity that we got addicted to was the boating. The smooth and steady rocking of the boat with picturesque views of the town provides a therapeutic and a calming effect on our minds.
As you pass through the lake, you can enjoy the view of home stays seen between the tall trees, beautiful swans and other birds playing in the lake. We took multiple boat trips just to enjoy the pleasantness of the ride; it’s like a massage to your senses.
After thoroughly enjoying the Lake and the strolls through the local town in the evenings, we ventured out to other places which are famous sightseeing points. The weather and the morning mist makes most of these places appear out of the world. The silent valley view point, as the name suggests is hushed and Divine. It was so peaceful that we were the only people at that place for most of the time. Our driver even got bored (we on the other side were fully excited to check out the place fully) and said he will at least take some pictures for us; he did turn out to be a good photographer.
After travelling further, we reached a point called Caps valley. Interesting story: it seems long time back when a British national visited this place and looked down from this view point, his cap fell down but in few seconds due to the gushing and heavy wind, it came up again; hence the name Caps Valley. We have actually seen few people trying to throw their caps and losing them.
Berijam Lake is seen from the top few kilometres away at a view point, which is now famously called as the Berijam lake view point. The Lake is covered and is nicely snuggled inside the forest with trees on all sides of the lake. The entry for Berijam Lake is restricted to few hours a day till 3:30 pm in order to ensure the quality of the lake whose water is supplied to few nearby by villages. We did hear that the Kodai lakes have problem of mercury Pollution (seems like a big story to even talk about it here, do Google it; interesting read)
The Lake totally mesmerized us with beautiful backdrop of the lush green forest and pin drop silence across. After doing our bit of noise pollution by shouting excitedly (yeah we do feel guilty about it), we decided to head back.
The list of things to do never ends in Kodai. The visit to the Pine gardens, another popular spot used in several south Movies, which also served as a stop for some refreshments, specially the raw cut mango topped with salt and pepper.
Our evenings are generally spent in are around the Kodai lake for next couple of days, we did multiple boat rides, rented cycles and rode around the perimeter of the Lake. The lake’s perimeter road is very well maintained for walkers and cyclists. Locals come here for morning and evening walks, while the outsiders enjoy this place for the same with an extra option of horse riding or cycling on the rented ones.
With many options ranging from unwind, relax to drive around to treks, Kodai does offer nature lovers a variety of experience to cherish. Be aware that summers are jam packed and may be as we did, try this one during monsoons.