Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is one of the most popular hill resorts in India. It is a charming hill station, stands amidst sylvan beauty on the southern crest of the upper Palani Hills near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. With its rocks, woods, lovely lake and bracing air, Kodaikanal is an ideal hill resort for the tourists.
The unique flowering plant 'Kurunji'(Strobilanthus Kunthanus) that last bloomed in 2004, is nature's gift to Kodaikanal. Kodaikanal located amidst the folds of the verdant Pali hills is one of the most popular serene hill stations in India, which mesmerises any visitor and is frequented all through the year.
Kodai is situated at an altitude of about 2,133-m high and covers an area of 21.45-sq-km. The hill town is renowned for its educational institutions of international repute. The hill-plantain fruits and plums are known for their freshness and taste. Berijam lake, one among the beautiful lakes of South India, spreads over an area of 24 hectares.

Attractions:
Kodai Lake:
One of the main attractions for the tourists of Kodaikanal is the Kodai lake which is at a distance of 3kms from the bus stand. In 1863, Vera Levinge, a former District Collector of Madurai settled in Kodaikanal after his retirement. He was the man of resource and creative ideas for this lake. By spending his own money he converted the marshy land with several streams of lake by constructing a strong bund and brought boats from Tuticorin. It is reported that the foreign resident's even used to swim in the lake.

Today lakhs of tourists walk around, sail on, ride on horses & cycles and admire the lake. Fishing can also be done obtaining permission from Inspector of Fisheries. Ponyrides by children and adults walking around the lake are part of Kodai Holiday.

The lake at Kodai is beautifully landscaped and it appears to be de rigueur for Indian families to get out on a boat. Both the Kodaikanal Boat and Rowing Club and Tamil Nadu Tourist Development Corporation hire similar boats for similar prices: Rs. 20 to 40 for a two-seater pedal boat to Rs. 125 (including boatman) for a kasmiri shikara (covered gondola - like boat) for 30 minutes.


Coaker's Walk:

It is a narrow pedestrian path, constructed by Lt. Coaker in 1872, a one kilometer mountain road which runs along the edge of steep slopes on the southern side of Kodai road which is 1/2km away from Kodai. The walk winding around mt. Nebo starts near van Allen hospital and joins the main road above St. Peter's Church provides a wide-angle spectacular view of the plains. On a cloudless, clear day one can have interesting sights, such as.... Dolphin's nose in south, valley of the pambar river in South East, birds eye view of Periyakulam and even city of Madurai.One must be aware of a fascinating phenomenon called 'Brachem Spectre' . A very lucky person can see his shadow on the clouds with a rainbow halo, when sun is behind and cloud and mist is in his front. The valley views along paved Coaker's Walk (admission Rs 2, Camera Rs. 5, Time: 7 am to 7pm) are superb when the mist clears. There's an observatory (admission Rs. 3) with telescope about halfway along. You can start from either end, near Greenlands Youth Hostel or Villa Retreat, and the stroll takes all of five minutes.The views from Pillar Rocks, a 7km hike (one way beginning near Bryant Park), are also excellent. Greenlands Youth Hostel and Villa Retreat can organise guided walks, and guides can also be arranged through the tourist office (Rs. 50 to 70 per hour).


Bryant Park:

This paradise of flowers is located to the east of the lake.
Solar Physical Laboratory:

This observatory built in 1899 is located at the highest point in Kodai, 3.2 kms from the lake, 850 feet above the lake.
Silver Cascade:

The Silver Cascade falls is located on the ghat road to Madurai 8 kms from Kodai. 5 kms from the town below the observatory is the Fairy Falls, Bearshola Falls and Glane Falls.
Shenbaganur MuseumThis museum is located 5.5 kms from the lake. This museum for flora, fauna and archaeological remains is maintained by the Sacred Heart College. One of the best ochidariums, with around 300 species of orchids (and other plants of the Palani hills) is also located here.
Pillar Rocks:

Three rocks - cliff faces resembling pillars juts into the sky to a height of about 400 ft. Located 7 kms from the lake, it serves as a viewpoint for the plains below.
Green Valley View:

Located 5 kms from the lake, this was originally known as Suicide Point. There is a great view of the plains below & the Vaigai dam from here. There is a golf course nearby, where visitors can use the course as temporary members

How to get There:

Air: Nearest Airport is at Madurai 121 km from Kodaikanal.

Rail: Nearest rail head to catch fast trains is Kodai Road on the Chennai-Madurai broad gauge line, 80 km from Kodaikanal. At Kodai Road, railway-retiring rooms are available. Privately run hotels offer accommodation for a brief stay to catch trains. The Palani railway station is 64 km away.

Road: Kodaikanal is connected by road with all important towns. Regular bus services are available from Kodaikanal to Madurai, Palani, Kodaikanal Road, Theni, Dindugul, Triruchchirappalli, Kumuli, Erode, Bangalore and Coimbatore. Taxis and vans are available for local transport. ers.

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