Deep down in India’s tropical south lies nature’s gem in the form of a serene hill station known as Kodaikanal. We were on a long South India tour, Kodaikanal being our last stop in our itinerary. As we were passing through the lush green farmlands of Tamil Nadu we saw a dark auburn colored mountain encircled by dense monsoon clouds. We were later told by our guide that on top of this mountain calmly rests Kodaikanal and that we are going to be on top of it in just over an hour.
During our ascent on a single lane tarmac road we passed through plentiful hairpin bends and frequent twists and turns. As we were continuing our ascent in our small minivan filled with honeymoon couples, the fog grew denser and denser. It reached a point where we were not able to spot anything out of our old minivan’s unpolished window.
After an exhilarating journey, we finally reached Kodaikanal by dark. We decided to rest for the night and explore the town the following morning. We woke up to a bright sun in a rather misty morning. First up we went to one of the highest part of Kodaikanal from where we got an amazing view of the entire town and the surrounding lush green mountains. Following which our tour guide took us to a place known as Coakers Walk. Constructed by an English army officer Lt. Coaker in 1872, the Walk is a paved pedestrian path that runs along the edges of steep slopes on the southern side of the town. Winding around the tall Mount Nebo, it is known to provide unmatched panoramic views of the plains- however when we went the dense fog appeared and we weren’t able to spot much.
Our guide suggested for a jungle trek, everyone in our minivan raised their hands, displaying their conformance. It was only the second time in my life that I went jungle trekking, so I was a bit hesitant at first. Before starting our trek we came across a street vendor selling the most exotic of fruits such as passion fruit, butter fruit and sweet tomato. They all were extremely delicious and very reasonably priced.
We followed a river path during our jungle trek that passed meandering across the dense jungle. The river path led us to numerous waterfalls, however most were pretty short in length. Some locals in fact use these waterfalls as a natural shower.
Following which we went to a site known as the “Pillar Rocks”. These are three giant rock pillars which stand at a height of 122 meters, at the edge of a cliff. The posters of the Pillar Rocks dot the town and are featured in almost every postcard collection. However when we with all our excitement visited the place, it was extremely foggy and we weren’t able to catch even the slightest glimpse of them.
A bit heartbroken, we then proceeded towards the famous pine forest of Kodaikanal. This was a place where some of our most memorable Bollywood movie scenes were shot. We also tried enacting some of those scenes just to make up for an even more memorable photo.
The last place we visited was the unruffled Kodaikanal Lake. High up in the mountains, the beautiful lake seems like it was pulled out of a fairy-tale. We saw exotic birds chirping by its banks, misty fog blowing across the woods adjacent to it and a beautiful cobalt blue color of the lake that made it almost look like something from an impressionist painting. We sat in a pedal boat that was quite difficult to maneuver and with much difficulty trolled around the lake. The beautiful lake at the same time continued inviting us to explore each of its corners, dimly reflecting the sun’s rays all the while.
Kodaikanal is also referred to as the “Princess of Hill Stations” – well I must say after touring the whole town it lives up to its name. Having visited so many hill stations in the past; the serenity of Kodaikanal is hard to match. As I am writing this article, the fable like town brings back those old memories and in a way forces me to pack my bags and set off for an early Holiday.