Published: May 27th 2009May 26th 2009
Having enjoyed the cooler temperatures of mountainous eastern Kerala we decided to travel to even higher elevations in Kodaikanal, just over the border in Tamil Nadu. At first we were unable to figure out just why Kodaikanal reminded us so much of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains - was it the cool crisp mountain air? Perhap. Or all the city tourists getting their fix of the great outdoors?? Perhaps.. But mainly, it was the eucalypts!! They were everywhere here, making for familiar sights and filling the air that distinct aroma.
Our first adventure in Kodaikanal was to visit the nice little lake which the town adjoins. The options for experiencing the lake include by row boat or peddle boat (but the 'line' or more appropriately 'scrum' of people awaiting their turn was far too long), or around the lake on a horse (being led by a man on a bicycle!) or by bicycle (perhaps being led by a horse??). As the lake is quite small, and we had half a day to kill, we decided to walk instead, waving as we went to all the rowers and bicyclists riding lap upon lap. Having enjoyed the lake we thought we would
the view from Coaker's Walk
this photo was worth the 5 Rupee entry fee for a camera. Entry fee for a human is 2 Rupees!
next head to the waterfall on a creek which flows into the lake. This was extremely hard to find for us and we spent an hour or so walking mostly up steep hills in vain. When we were finally on the right track some friendly young men told us that there is no water up there. Near many tourist attractions in India we had been told 'no water', meaning make sure you take your drinking water with you as there is none at the location. Unfortunately though, no water this time really did mean no water. The waterfall was a fairly rank small pond with a very small trickle. So we decided to climb up the waterfall and up the creekline. Here we found one of India's many outdoor laundries - people washing their clothes, towels and sheets in small pools and streams, then laying them out on rocks, grass, trees, dirt, whatever to dry.
The next day we decided to do a guided bus tour of some other areas - due in no small part to our getting lost looking for the waterfall.. After spending an hour or two seeing the sights of various hotels in the hotel
pick-up, we finally got to the first attraction - an old Christian church, followed by a 500yr old wild jaman tree (Syzygium densiflorum) complete with jaman fruit sellers near its trunk. We then headed to some different waterfalls ( with slightly more water this time) and a cave, before a long decent walk down to dolphin nose rock and echo rock - sites with amazing valley views. The walk back up to the road was even more decent! Can we use altitude as an excuse at 2500m? Or are we just a bit out of shape?
The rest of our time in Kodaikanal was spent settling our scores (see p.s. in a previous blog entry), which was made all the more horrible by the election cars passing by our hotel window every 5 minutes, blaring out some of the most annoying music known to mankind - perhaps the idea is to make you vote for the other guys!?! We had a slight repreive from the election cars between about 1am to 5am, during which time the road works started instead. Not our happiest of memories on this night.
The next day we took a gamble and caught the
above the shear drop at echo rock
this one involves a slightly scary jump to reach the last rock!
bus to Madurai. Thankfully we survived, found an air conditioned place and recouperated. Our next and only sightseeing day was also an election day. We visited the massive Sri Meenakshi Temple at the centre of the city. This awe inspiring temple was designed and built in the 16th Century, has heaps of highly decorated towers reaching into the sky and is an absolute feast of colour!
The other major attraction for us in Madurai was the Mahatma Gandhi Museum. Some earlier museum visits had highlighted to the both of us just how little we actually knew of India's history, and in particular this man whom every towns main street is named after! So we ventured out to the museum, thirsty for knowledge. What we had known of Gandhi is that was the most important figure in the liberation of India from colonial forces and the creation of its modern democracy. The irony then, that on this day which we were hoping to learn of and honour this man, the museum is closed down as it is election day! Instead we find some young kids playing cricket on the museum lawn - a pastime which doesn't stop no matter what
Next we take our final Indian train ride towards Mammalapuram, home of Dave, Rob and good times! Stay tuned for the adventures of 'sister wife', a night out at the discoteque, and the ups and downs of Mammalapurams most amatuer cricket team 'cheap and best'.
See you then..
There are more photos below