INDIA. Kodai Kanal, Tamil Nadu: We were on a tour of Tamil Nadu and after spending 2 days at the mesmerising smoking rocks (which is the literal translation for Hogenakkal Falls), we drove towards another promising destination—Kodaikanal.
The morning sun was smiling brightly and the journey through the winding and undulating road made for a very good start. Through the path that was neatly cut between paddy fields, we sped into a green kingdom, where the soaring coconut trees on both sides resembled palace pillars embraced in green motifs. Sometimes the royal green courts (paddy fields) passed through banana plantations too.
Kodaikanal comes from the Tamil words Kodai and Kanal, which literally means ‘relief from heat’ and surely it does live up to its name. Located 120 km from Madurai this beautiful hill station is situated 2,130 m above sea level, drawing people from every walk of life to its verdant charm and misty mysteries.
We stopped to explore a coffee and cocoa plantation and as a bonus, we also got to see some pepper plants. Further up, rain embraced us and by the time we reached the boundaries of Kodaikanal, it was raining heavily. On our way, we stopped again amidst rain and chilly wind at Kodai’s famous Silver Cascade, which is 8 km from the Kodai Lake. This waterfall is actually the overflow of Kodai Lake, which comes down here as a 180-foot high waterfall. The recent rain had brought down all the mud with it which has completely changed its colours – now making it a Golden Cascade.
Once in Kodai, we took a stroll towards the lake before it was too dark. This 24-hectare lake is surrounded by a long black tar road and forms the focal point of Kodai. Sir Vere Hendry Levinge created it in 1863. He constructed the bund to form a lake and stocked the lake with fish.
We sat at one corner to chitchat a little and to observe the locals and the tourists. The lake was surrounded by rows of trees brought from far off places with a complete history of its kind pined to its bark. Angling is a favourite activity carried on the lakeshore, we saw many locals deeply engaged in casting their lines. It was a fantastic experience watching the mist rising from the surface and slowly blanketing the entire expanse. It started to drizzle again and we hurried towards the hotel.
The next day started with a divine touch with a visit to the Kurunji Andavar temple which is dedicated to Lord Muruga, also referred to as lord of the hill. It offered us a beautiful view of the plains and the Palani hills. It was a spectacular sight to watch the mist clear from the temple top by the late morning revealing the full expanse of the valley below.
Leaving the lord’s abode we then went to Nature’s abode, Chettiar Park. Tucked away in the north-eastern corner, it indeed was a charming place to stop by and spend some time amidst the huge green lawn with nicely laid out flowers in red and white with occasional dots of yellow and purple.
Next, we moved on to Shembaganur Museum which was around 5.6 kilometers away from the lake, its admirer calls it the Museum of natural science history of the Palani Hills, and why not, the museum has preserved the fast disappearing Wildlife and the rare flora and fauna of the region.
On our way back we went to see the Pillar rocks, it was a majestic sight, three boulders stood there shoulder to shoulder vertically measuring 122 meters high. The mini garden around the observation point was adding more charm to the place. The clouds above and the rising mist from below slowly restricted our view completely and with raindrops on our cheeks, we moved on to the nearby shacks for shelter and buy some Kodai’s famous homemade chocolates.
The next day, we started early on to visit the Bryants park, 20.5 acres of land and out of which 1 acre is exclusively allocated for roses. The park has 742 rose plants and even the black rose can be found here. The 1 acre of Pond also hosts a variety of water lilies, and the 4 acres of other flower beds consist of many flowers of different shapes and shades filling the entire environment with their distinct aroma.