Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Featured Posts, Travel Tales | 2 comments


It was a tiny hole-in-the wall spot of a shop, shelves glistening with shelves full of sweet little things. There were chocolates with various fillings and flavours; fluffy marshmallows in rainbow-scapes, and gorgeous marzipan in shapes fancy enough to be pulled out of fairy tales. My twins are absolutely entranced, and I’m afraid they might never want to leave. “Ok…just any ONE flavour,” I almost plead, “and then we will go.” (I say that in Bengali to them, as that’s the only dialect my two year old twins understand currently!) I was miserably and dutifully chiding the kids, while greedily eying at a sign that said “ Hot Chocolate sold here”-and a vector image of a steaming cup with brown liquid in it.  As soon as my entourage got busy with the chocolate, I smuggled the cup of ‘hot chocolate’, and to my utter shock…it was just HOT CHOCOLATE! As in, chocolate that was hot! Molten gooey chocolate served in a paper cup, with a spoon to smear your tongues with. Good heavens…help me! No wonder Amitabh Bachchan once said,  “English is a very phunny language”! Kodaikanal is truly a chocoholics delight!

Every hill-station in India, for some vague reason, desires to be, and is often fondly called the ‘Queen of the Hills’! I have heard that for Shimla, Dalhousie,for Ooty…even Yercaud. Kodiakanal  is not far behind…but even if she doesn’t get the title of the Queen (Infact I am not any of the hill-stations deserve the majestic top-title or not, but this one (Kodai) stands beautiful ..with an attitude and royalty of a princess for sure-the Princess of the Hills!
When, after the 9 hour drive in the plains, our car started on the winding Ghats, my eyes were seriously in for a visual treat. I gleamed and squealed in déjà-vu! This is Scotland,I said! The last I had this visual was while cruising through the western highlands of Scotland, on the way to the Isle of Skye. It was dusk..and the lights in the sky were creating havoc in my senses. The dam below mirrored the lights as perfectly as it could. An hour later, Kodaikanal was just settling down for its romantic evening-out , when we reached our hotel, around the lake.
That night we left Kodai to herself. Un-devoured!
The climate in Kodai in May is just amazing. You see a beautiful sunrise and fabulous salty streaks of sunrays in the mornings, then by the time its afternoon, the clouds come down as if to give you a hug, the late afternoon, there are slight showers, and then it miraculously clears up and you see twinkling stars in the sky.
I still do not know what people usually when they visit Kodai, because we pretty much thought a planned itinerary didn’t deserve a thought! Although we hadn’t  seen Kodai before we were really not keen on doing all the touristy thing, so we checked into a resort  relatively tucked in from the center of the town. Now this is a place where you’d love to lie back in the hammock or the wicker swing with a warm cup of coffee or ginger chai, watch your kids run around the lawns and feed the rabbits. And yes, read your book. Cover yourself with your favourite shawl. get cosy, and eventually doze off when the sun decides on its return journey. They also have a play area in front of each cottage with swings, and slides to keep the little ones busy.
The next day we (the entire entourage of  four of us, and the two maids!)headed off to do some boating at the Kodai lake.That was I think by far, the most touristy thing I have ever done in my life! But this was due to the twins. It was their first boating experience! And how they enjoyed it!
There are other tourist spots and views which offer a panoramic view of the valley below. Coaker’s Walk is about a kilometer from the lake, which runs along a steep slope on the southern side of the Kodai. Some of the best views of the plains can be seen from here.  At Pillar Rocks one can see three boulders standing shoulder – to – shoulder vertically. Then you can also check out the Upper Lake View, from where the star shaped Kodai lake can be seen clearly.

3 days in Kodai went off as quickly as it started. I promised to myself that I need to go back. The place deserves more than just a hurried(possibly still relaxing) visit. As we left behind the cool, pine-scented air of Kodaikanal, 2,133 meters up in the Palani hills, it suddenly created a visual in front of me, of centuries back in time. Imagine a bunch of early settlers from the western worlds who in the early 19th century, chanced into this quaint hill-station and were so mesmerized by its beauty and grateful for the escape from the heat that they set about building a town here. They built stone dwellings, pretty little chapels and churches, constructed paths, paved tar roads, and planted new trees such as eucalyptus and pear, and, then built the Kodaikanal Lake, a signature symbol of the town’s natural resplendence today.
Even today, a leisurely stroll reveals quaint churches are tucked in between British-style Tudors. Rare flowers like kurunji appear beside pregnant plums and pears. Paths and hardly-trodden trails appear suddenly out of nothingness in the hills. That generously clarifies why walking, and walking slow and without any purpose is possibly the only way to discover ‘Kodai’. And that explains why I want to go back.

For once food really wasn’t the focus of my trip. But even then, I couldn’t have departed this quaint little town, without sampling at least a few of its local favourites. Binge here, for a teaser’s approach to food at Kodai.

Kodai Trivia:
•    In Tamil, Kodaikanal means ‘Gift of the Forest’.
•   Remember the sensuous neon-green bikini clad Lisa Ray from the Liril commercials way back in the 80s? The memorable waterfall ad for Liril soap in 1985 was shot at Pambar Falls in Kodaikanal. Ever since, these falls are locally known as ‘Liril Falls’.

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  1. In fact , I have always felt that all the hill stations are Queens, with her own regional flavour.Nice narration with background history. Keep it up.

  2. But Kodai is one place…I really need to go back to, jaano Mamai? Its calling me back! Ooty didn’t do that to me, neither did Shimla.
    I am dying to go back to Darjeeling and Kalimpong…its been such a long time.

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