Kodaikanal – The Perfect Summer Getaway

A 3-day Kodaikanal Itinerary

Kodaikanal is a fabulous summer getaway from Bangalore. The only limitation is that it is around 500 kms from Bangalore and Google shows about 9 hours of driving time to get there. This is the very reason that we had been putting off Kodaikanal from our destination list for a long time now. However, this spring break, we finally decided to drive down to this hill station to witness the charm that all visitors talk about…and I am so glad that we did.

We had a lovely time in this beautiful little hill station perched at 7200 feet above sea level. The name ‘Kodaikanal’ means Gift of the Forest and the place stands true to its name. Away from the scorching heat of the plains, we found it very relaxing and rejuvenating to soak ourselves in the selfless bounty that Mother Nature showers on us.

Reaching Kodaikanal from Bangalore:

By Road:

We took NH44 and followed the route via Hosur, Salem, Namakkal and Karur to reach Kodaikanal.

The drive to Kodaikanal was lovely. The road is impeccably maintained, even in the ghats. We actually took just 7 hours with 2 halts along the way to get there from South Bangalore. The roads were relatively empty and our vehicle did a fabulous job 🙂

Hotel Temple City deserves a special mention to stop by just before the Kodaikanal ghats begin. You cannot miss it as it is right on Melur road which you need to cross. It has a small store attached to its restaurant which sells some special local items like dried chillies, dried berries, chutneys and pickles. Nice place for a food break and a little shopping.

By Rail:

The Kodai Road railway Station at 80 km and the Palani Railway station at 64 km distance, are the nearest railway stations from the town.

By Air:

Madurai (at 121 km) and Coimbatore (at 135 km) airports are the nearest to the town.

Where We Stayed in Kodaikanal?

The Tamara Kodai. A lovely resort with unmatched service and hospitality.

Weather in Kodaikanal

As you keep on gaining elevation in the ghats, the temperature starts going down rather rapidly. You are greeted with mists and dense green vegetation all around you. Unlike Ooty, the other most popular hill station in Tamilnadu, this one is less commercialised and may be that’s the reason that it still exudes charm in its relatively untouched avatar.

The temperature stays around 15 degrees celsius throughout the day during April, and if it rains, which can happen anytime, the weather suddenly turns more chilly.

You are advised to carry jackets, shawls and warm clothing here. An umbrella too is handy here as it can pour anytime.

Points of Interest in Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is a tourist’s paradise. Waterfalls, treks, lakes, amazing view points, age-old temples, churches and a lovely weather all year round. You will be spoilt for choices to spend your day.

Parking can become a hassle in some crowded tourist points but in case, you want to drive in your own car, then the roads are super nice and here is a screen shot from Google maps for you to go ahead. There are many waterfalls too along a little deviation along this route. However, we chose to skip them this summer as the water in many falls reduces to a trickle hampering the fun.

Here is a glimpse of our itinerary to help you build yours…

Google map showing the loop directions from Kodaikanal lake to Coaker's Walk.
Day 1 Itinerary Route Loop – From Kodaikanal Lake to Coaker’s Walk

Day 1 Itinerary (10 am to 2:30 pm) (4-5 hours)

Exploring the Town of Kodaikanal

  • Most points are accessible to public after 10 am. Hence, it is advisable to start accordingly.
  • There is a nominal entry fee per person at most of the tourist spots.

We started from our resort and proceeded to see the beautiful Kodaikanal Lake from a vantage point at a height.The view is spectacular and is known as the Upper Lake View Point. There are a few shops in the vicinity including a couple of tea and food stalls. Good place to hang around for a while enjoying the view and sipping any hot beverage of your choice 🙂

The Kodaikanal lake is not natural and is a star-shaped artificial lake which acts as the fulcrum of this hill station. Many hotels, resorts and the main bazaar area is located around this lake. It is the busy and happening hub of the town.

Upper Lake View Point in Kodaikanal with a beautiful view of the lake and the resorts near it.
Upper lake view of Kodaikanal lake and that’s the Carlton Hotel by the lakeside – the only hotel on the banks of the lake

Next, we went to Moir Point. This point (as is the case with many view points on our Indian hill stations) is named after a British officer, Mr. Thomas Moir, who constructed the Goschen Road and connected the nearby villages to Kodaikanal.

Moir Point offers amazing panoramic views of the valley and, of course, is a crowded place. The place has a nominal entry fee and offers some delicious snacks and tea stalls at the entrance to pamper our taste buds.

At Moir View Point

Pine Forest is a short distance away from Moir Point and seriously resembles some Bollywood movie location. The scenery can motivate you and your partner to hide behind the tall trees or dance around them like they do in the movies. 😉 It is a photogenic location where you can spend some good quality time making memories.

The canopy formed by the trees in the Pine forest, Kodaikanal
The Canopy in the Pine Forest

Guna Caves, also known as the Devil’s Kitchen is a group of caverns nesting in between the majestic Pillar rocks. It is a restricted area and is fenced for safety reasons. However, you can see the opening of the cavern which seems to open inside the earth. The forest around it is dense and is a delight to the eyes. Just beware of the numerous mamma monkeys that roam this place with their babies on their tummy. They can snatch things right from your backpack under your very nose.

Pillar Rocks View Point, again, is just a few hundred metres away from Guna Caves. In fact, the Guna Caves are formed between these massive pillar rocks. We caught a glimpse of the rocks from a distance as the view point was too crowded.

Pillar rocks view point partly hidden behind the trees and covered in fog.
Pillar Rocks covered in fog

Green Valley View Point was lost on us as the entire view was foggy. It is supposed to be a panoramic view point offering views of the Vaigai dam. The entry to the view point goes through a mini market selling all kinds of trinkets and forest products.

Last tour of the day was Coaker’s Walk. It is a 1-km long looped walk along a steep valley ledge that again offers scenic views of the peaks and valley below. The walk was deserted in the afternoon on that day. Hardly any vendors on the road but with clear views of the valley; it was a beautiful walk. However, I would suggest you come to this place during sunset and walk down to the Kodaikanal lake for a memorable boating ride with your family. There is a colonial era church just outside the other end of this walk.

We had a lovely half-a-day tour visiting the mainstream tourist points. I feel it is important that we do not miss this this popular touristy places in search of only offbeat places. Mingling with the crowds, munching on local snacks and shopping for trinkets add a silver lining to your outing.

Day 2 Itinerary (9:30 am to 3:30 pm) (6-7 hours)

Mannavanur Eco-Tourism Site

The previous day was spent visiting mainstream tourist places. Today, it was going to be an offbeat destination. Our driver suggested that we visit the Mannavanur Eco Tourism Site some 45 kms from the town of Kodaikanal. We started at around 9:30 am after a heavy breakfast at our resort. The day was clear without any rains in the forecast and looked promising.

Our first halt was at a Mahalaxmi Temple near Woodlands Hotel. It is a newly constructed temple but with good vibes around it. A quick 10-minute pit stop at the temple and we were on our way to the lake. It takes around 2 hours to get there on the winding roads interspersed with scenic views of the valleys time and again.

Poombarai village at 34 kms from Kodaikanal offers one such magnificient view. It is home to a 3000-year-old Murugan Swamy temple and is a religious place with some historical connections to its famous Palani counterpart.

Poombarai village view with terrace farmlands and hills with fog beyond it.
Poombarai village view on a clear day. Palani hills are seen shrouded in fog beyond. On a clear day, the Palani Murugan Swamy Gopuram too can be seen from this view.

Soon we reached the Sheep farms next to the lake but decided to skip it and head straight to the lake. See the pics and you will know why!

Mannavanur lake nestled in between the hills and forests.
A glimpse of the Mannavanur lake en route
A peaceful spot under a tree at Mannavanur Eco Tourism Site. A man and a child are relaxing in the picture.
Seems straight out of a fairytale. Couldn’t capture the sheep grazing down yonder next to the Mannavanur lake.

The lake is nestled in a valley surrounded by hills and dales. Rolling hills, verdant grasslands surrounding it and almost a deserted location devoid of noise and crowds. A peaceful place brimming with serenity.

There is an entry fee to this eco-tourism site and it has some tea/coffee shops at the entrance. Ziplining and coracle rides are also available at this lake. A good place to hang out with family or just with your own self.

We spent a considerable time near the banks of the lake before walking to the nearby hill . The scenery was rustic and beautiful. After crossing the lake along its banks, we saw scores of sheep grazing around on the other side. Actually the lake is situated inside a sheep farm so sheep spotting seems common.

The place felt picture perfect – too good to be true near a popular hill station like Kodaikanal. We easily spent around more than 2 hours there and it was the most memorable time of our trip.

Day 3 Itinerary

Dolphin’s Nose Trek (2 hours) & Shopping Around (No time limit!)

I had to see Dolphin’s Nose after coming all the way to Kodai. It would have been a pity to not do even a mini-trek in these mountains with breathtaking views. Pun intended in the last sentence; did you get it? 😉

Anyways, Dolphin’s nose does resemble the nose of the sea mammal. You get to see it after you get closer to it. It is a ledge overhanging from the cliff and provides panoramic views of the valley below. The drop from the ledge is steep, and it is kind of exhilarating to stand atop the Dolphin’s Nose and click pictures.

One has to go downhill to get to Dolphin’s Nose. The descent was less than 200 metres but the path was uneven, covered with stones, tree roots and was rough. It took us around 30 minutes to get down and 25 minutes to climb up. (An experienced trekker, whom we met at the Dolphin’s Nose, climbed up in just 10 minutes and I was super impressed!).

After getting back up, we stopped at Altaf’s Cafe for some freshly squeezed orange juice. It is a well-known Mediterranean cafe (Add Israeli and Italian to it!) popular for its food and location. It is situated along a valley edge and the views from where you are seated are outstanding. Do stop by for a much needed break after you trek up the Dolphin’s Nose.

Enroute Dolphin’s Nose. The water had reduced to a trickle in April but a waterfall is always enchanting
Dolphin's Nose View Point. A flat rock at the edge of a cliff. This is in Kodaikanal.
Very similar to a Dolphin’s Nose indeed!
Dolphin's Nose view point from the front in Kodaikanal.
View from the Dolphin’s Nose

Shopping in Kodaikanal

Every hill station has a story to tell. A story of its indigenous people, the history of the land, its culture, art forms and the produce of the land. What’s better than to explore this by shopping for the local handicrafts and produce of the place.

Shopping happens mainly at the 7 Roads Junction and Anna Salai Street near the Kodaikanal lake. Some good restaurants too are near this shopping area. I checked out Google for the recommended shops and ended up going to:

  • Kaleeswari Supermarket – It is a good store with an attentive staff. Got loads of garam masala and essential oils for consumption and gifting
  • Kodai Cheese – It is a teeny-weeny outlet on Anna Salai Street. Rightly so as you can find it difficult to carry such fresh cheeses which need refrigeration, back home. However, I could lay my hands on some powdered dried parmesan cheese, which otherwise, is difficult to find in Bangalore.
  • Kodai Chocolate Factory- They closed the shop for renovation on the day we went but we got some local home-made chocolates from the neighbouring store.
  • Potter’s Shed – They changed the name of the store (…and I can’t remember it), but the location remains the same. It is right above Tava Indian Restaurant on Poet Tyagaraja Road (PT Road) and is a wonderful place for pottery and other handicraft items. The owner sources her handicrafts locally and also from Pondicherry. Here is the number +91 4542 240 244, in case you are not able to locate the store. Loved shopping here and this one is a strong recommendation.
  • Danish Display – It is mainly a wooden artefacts store with a variety of items on display. Not to undermine the store, but we found it to be really expensive. I just purchased some wooden scoops useful in scooping out masalas/powders from their big storage jars.

Where to Eat in Kodaikanal?

I am going to recommend some tried and tested restaurants to you all.

Cloud Street – Situated on PT Road, this place is rated highly on Tripadvisor. Do try their House Special Baked Pastas and Wood-fired Oven Pizzas. A lovely place to hang out after shopping in the vicinity.

Truly Herbivore (94443 25302)- This vegetarian restaurant is at the 7 Roads Junction in Anna Salai (near the lake) and has a very big menu to choose from. The food was above average and what caught our attention there was the numerous facts about ancient India that they had put up on their walls.

La Providence – A gourmet restaurant in The Tamara Kodai which serves Indian, Continental and traditional delicacies. A colonial chapel-turned-restaurant, this place is a must-visit for fine dining when in Kodaikanal. We stayed in the Tamara resort and visited this place many a times during our stay. It hosted many a lovely breakfasts and dinner buffets for us and is worth all the trouble.

Bistro 1845 – Again, this place is in The Tamara Kodai and has an indoor as well as outdoor seating. This French-style bistro and bar serves some excellent Indian, Asian and European cuisine. I had tried the Parappu Urundai Kuzhambu with steamed rice (lentil dumplings in a spicy gravy) – the local delicacy of the state and loved it.

I hope you liked reading about Kodaikanal. Do read my other blogs too on Tamilnadu and plan a vacation to this lovely state soon:

  1. A Weekend in Mahabalipuram
  2. The Rock Fort of Trichy

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