Hills in the Mist
As you leave behind the hot Tamil Nadu plains and approach the cool, pine-scented air of Kodaikanal, 2,133 metres up in the Palani hills, you’ll feel the same way as a bunch of early British and American missionaries. In the early 19th century, these foreigners who stumbled into Kodaikanal were so touched by its beauty and grateful for the escape from the heat that they set about building a town here. They built homes and churches, cut paths, paved roads, introduced new trees such as eucalyptus and pear, and, around 1863, built the Kodaikanal Lake, a defining motif of the town’s natural splendour today.
The Kodaikanal Lake is ensconced in the centre of a sublimely beautiful setting - wooded hill slopes, large rocks, winding roads, skipping waterfalls, and fruit orchards that constantly disappear and reappear in the mist. Beautiful churches are tucked in between British-style villas, and rare flowers like kurunji appear beside delectable plums and pears. Paths and soft-trodden trails appear out of nowhere in the hills.That explains why walking, hiking and trekking are major activities in ‘Kodai’. Day and half-day hikes are an excellent way of taking in the natural wonders of the place. Boating on the Kodaikanal Lake, cycling, and horse-riding are other ways to enjoy the beauty of this hill town.
Kodaikanal has one of the oldest observatories in the world - the Kodaikanal Observatory. As you look above the moonlit pines and watch the stars through a mighty telescope, the vast faraway skies seem fittingly close.
Did you know?
- In Tamil, Kodaikanal means ‘Gift of the Forest’.
- 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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