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Published: July 22nd 2009
Kodai is the spot we visited more than thrice and never boring. It is an over night journey from Chennai to Kodai road and then by bus from this spot for 3 hours.
This was a sudden trip planned. It was for 4 days after the board exams of my daughter we all wanted a break as though we also wrote the exams ! Indeed the pressure was to that extent.
We took the overnight train to Kodai road and reached early morning the Kodai road station. We hired a cab from here to the hills. We did stop over for a coffee break in between. The road to the hill top is good and the weather fantastic. It was peak summer in the plains and the cool weather was a great relief to all of us. As the summer rush had not begun the place was pretty good with very few people around. We had booked in the "valley view resort". The room was ok and the food tolerable. The view from the hotel room was of course good at a long distance but right below was an old house and a street with busy market.
One more at park
a note on the history of Kodai.
There is proof of settlement of prehistoric tribes at Kodaikanal by visible artifacts such as dolmens homes of great stone slabs. After the primitive tribes of Paliyans and Pulyans in 14th century, villagers of Palani foot hills fled into Kodai hills, to escape from the oppressive rule in the plains and also from the invasion of Tippu Sultan.
The first European to visit Kodaikanal was Lt. B.S. Ward a surveyor in the year 1821. His Head Quarters was Vellagavi village. There were many American missions in South Tamil Nadu. The foreigners could not bear the oppressive heat in Tamilnadu and they faced sickness from epidemic diseases and consequential deaths. They wanted neat and healthy natural surroundings near Madurai to rest and improve their health.
They were happy to find from the report of Lt. B.S. Ward about the hills with wonderful climate and easy accessibility from Madurai & Periyakulam. Many English and American missionary people visited Kodaikanal through various routes. Notable among them are J C Wroughton -Sub Collector, C R Cotton Judge and Dr. Weight. Dr.Fane built two houses in 1845 in the lake road.
More houses were
The green patch at the centre of park
built by British Govt. The American Missionaries moved in and built a lot of dwellings in the southern side which is still there and now called 'Sunny Side' and 'Shelton' . In the year 1860, the first church was built jointly by the Bishop. American Madurai Mission built the union church in 1895. From year 1860, there was all round improvement due to the visit of several dignitaries.
In the year 1875 Southern Railways extended train route from Chennai to Madurai and Tuticorin. Due to this facility many tourists from far off places visited. They alight at Kodairoad Station and travel by bullock up to Tope and then ascend the climbs.The government deputed Engineer Major Law to study and submit a plan to build a moterable road to the hills. After a long delay, the road was completed in 1914 and at last allowed for traffic in 1916. Public buses began to ply in the road from 1916.
It was a long introduction I know but isnt it worth knowing such facts being in Chennai !
Now coming back to the trip, most of the places here were already seen by us but worth visiting again. We
Flowers at the park
Bright and beautiful
started off on the first day with the hill top temple set amidst the valley and enchanting scenery all around.
The place which was already a familiar one so we set off to the Kuriji Andavar temple to start with. The name Kurunji is the name of a flower which blooms once in 12 years and we did see this in the year 2002, if I remember right. This is located on the top of a hill and there are some small shop around. We did spend some time in the temple and also done some shopping. There was a photograph of a local man who married an English lady and lived here for a long time. We went around the temple and also the outer area for he full view of surroundings.
On return we visited the chettiar park with lovely flowers and well trimmed plants. The view was terrific from here. The green slopes were a pleasant view. Our taxi driver though was talking so much was not much aware of the routes. He went around the same place more than twice until we guided him as we knew the route better!
We landed near
At coaker's walk.
the lake in the evening, had a bicycle trip around the lake which is a good 7 kms and it was indeed refreshing. We also did some shopping around and the striped round necked white sweater I am wearing is from the local market at a very economic price so Rs.250/- !!
The coaker's walk was the next spot which was a pathway around the mountain linking the other side of the hill cut through rocks. The old Van Allen hospital on the right side of the pathway was an old and a beautiful building still the old British style intact,.Fresh carrots were on sale along the pavement and we did not try as it cannot be peeled or washed properly.
The Bryant Park is also close to this and we did spend a lot of time here. Lovely lush green lawns, tall trees and colorful flowers. Clicked a lot of snaps here.
We also visited the museum which is at Shanbaganur it was indeed an old one not very well maintained. We spent very little time here and one thing I wanted to mention was we had a letter to be posted which we posted here.
The tiny post office with just 2 persons and no one around. Perhaps we were the first to drop a letter in the box as I could hear the envelope landing the bottom of the box!
On the way back we visited the guna caves a favouries spot for film shootings as deep gorges and breathtaking views are here. For safety reasons the area is fenced as some suicide deaths were reported from this spot quite often. But way back around 10 years back we did get down to the bottom of this cliff and it was a fearful experience.
It is from here we can also see the Pillar rocks which are three granite boulders which are seen standing vertically shoulder to shoulder and it is now a very famous tourist spot for many visitors. These rocks are measuring a height of about 400 feet from the ground and the chambers that are seen between the two pillars are known as devils kitchen.
The Pillar Rocks have gained popularity as the years have passed by and during the peak season there is a huge rush of visitors to this place. The shady woods that are in
the vicinity of these huge boulders are a perfect spot to enjoy a picnic.
The next day was for the Berijam Lake for which one needs to take permission from the Forest officer as it a protected place. As per the procedure we had to give an application with the names of persons, vehicle number and the place from where we are coming. After all this I had to request the official for permission to visit. We were soon off through the winding roads covered both sides with tall trees, deep valley and breath taking view of the mountain slopes.
On the way to Berijam lake, you can stop at Silent Valley and Caps fly Valley, both of which are beautiful. Silent valley has a very enchanting and scary feel about it. There's a sheer drop covered with mist that takes you straght to the pearly gates if you don't watch your step. The kind of stuff painters love to draw. Wear good shoes in this trip. It's very wet around Kodai and these are slippery mountain trails.
The first point was the caps fly valley. There is a raised spot with railings on the way to
Berijam Lake. There is a steep valley in between two mountains and the air current here lifts the objects thrown in the valley. We did try this and to our surprise the cap came back like the boomerang or the Frisbee. It was fun to watch. Many were trying with the straw hat and it came back after going up due to the air pressure. It was lovely to watch. A few metre away is the silent valley and this is a wonderful spot a sheer drop which you can notice from the tip of the cliff.
After 30 minutes we reached the Berijam Lake, quite and calm with no people around. It was not very green due to the summer heat but the lake was looking splendid. We ventured around the lake in the car and almost lost our route as we had driven too much inside and finally saw some locals who guided us the way out of the area. We then started back and did stop over on the way for some snacks and drinks.
We had the last day on hand and had to start back in the morning. It was around 7 am.
We went to the restaurant had our breakfast and started descending saying bye to the lovely hill station.
It was indeed a memorable trip though we had visited many times earlier but this time a bit leisurely.
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