Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu is a place well-known for its beauty and the liberal sprinkling of Nature. A go-to destination for the tribe bitten with wanderlust, Kodaikanal has always drawn travellers from far and wide to its welcoming climes. However, like there is with every place, even in Kodai, there is a hidden treasure, a place of natural heritage, which is slightly offbeat, yet a crowd puller – The Guna Caves.
Hidden Treasure – The 1821 Caves
The Guna Caves go way back to 1821. These, like most other hidden treasures found near Kodaikanal, were discovered by a British officer B.S. Ward. However, the Caves were lost in memory and were rediscovered for their natural beauty in the 1990s.
The Devil’s Kitchen – What’s in the name?
The Guna Caves get their name from the popular movie Guna, which was shot here in 1992. They are originally known as the Devil’s Kitchen. As per Hindu mythology, these caves are where the Pandavas cooked their meals and hence the word ‘kitchen’. Whereas, no one has yet been able to say, where the word ‘Devil’ comes from. According to some travellers, the word Devil comes from the bats that reside in the cave. These dark creatures of the night are known to treat the Guna Caves as their popular hangout for quite some time now.
There is a fine line between adventure and danger, which is here.
It is said that there is a fine line between adventure and danger. This line is evident in the Guna caves at Kodaikanal. The caves may seem beautiful and even glamorous to some; just like danger is to many; but in reality, they are very dangerous to enter. Formed at an altitude of 2230 metres, and covered by Shola trees and grass, the Guna caves are framed by three pillar rocks – these are gigantic boulders protruding from the cliff face and any person wanting to enter the caves needs to hold on to two rocks and lower himself into the precipice that is formed by the third rock. This is a steep drop and very risky and is said to have been the cause of death of twelve youths earlier. Since then, the Guna Caves are best seen from afar. They are closed and rest behind metal bars and have become more of a checklist tick in Kodaikanal than an experience.
Best season to visit Guna Caves
However, from the popular Moir point, the walk to Guna Caves is a beautiful one and the best season to visit is from April to June, or August to September. The route goes through a lovely pine forest; the ground is covered with the roots of the trees which makes it even more captivating. Other than the above months, Guna Caves are best avoided, as during these months, the weather is wet and cold, and the ground often becomes so slippery, it is difficult to walk.
The Guna Caves shot into the limelight when the Tamil movie Guna which was shot inside the caves, was released. The movie featured well-known actor Kamal Hassan. However, it is believed that the film’s shooting destroyed the natural richness of the Guna Caves.
Today, Guna Caves is a protected site; but allows people to walk as closer as they can get, safely. If you are planning a holiday in Kodaikanal, be sure to add Guna Caves to your must-see list.
Must-see places of Kodaikanal
The other must-see sights in Kodaikanal are the star-shaped, man-made lake, the steep Green Valley, the Berijam Lake, the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, Coaker’s Walk for walkers, Kurinji Andavar Temple (famous for the Kurinji flower that blooms once every 12 years) Kodai Chocolate Factory, Bear Shola Falls, Dolphin Nose, Bryant Park, the Palani Temple, Natyanjali festival, Chettiar Park, Lutheran Church and Perumal Peak.
To reach Guna Caves, you have to reach Kodaikanal. The closest airport to Kodaikanal is Madurai, about 120 kilometres away. You can also travel from Trichy airport, which is 150 km away and from Coimbatore airport which is 175 kilometres away. A bus will take you from the airport to the main town. The road route takes you from Chennai to Kodaikanal, at 439 km. distance or from Bangalore, which is at a 305 km. distance. From Madurai, you will take 3.5 hours to reach Kodaikanal. If you are a railway fan, you will have to disembark at Kodai Road, which is at a 100 km. distance from the main town. From there, you can hail a taxi to get to town. After having arrived at Kodaikanal, among the best stays are Kodai-By The Lake and Kodai – By The Valley. The Sterling Kodai Valley, a resort with a striking, unusual architecture will take your breath away and so will Kodai by the Valley. If you are looking for comfort, peace of mind and a piece of heaven at Kodaikanal, do plan ahead.