It was Easter weekend of April 2015. A long weekend is a good time to get away from hustle-bustle of Bangalore; that is what we did. We went to the Princess of Hill Stations. 😊
Our bus reached Kodaikanal at 6 AM. We took our backpacks and started walking to our hotel. It turned out to be a long walk before we reached our hotel, thanks to Google Maps which was misinformed about the location of our hotel. However, it was for the best; this was the only time I felt mist on my cheeks in our entire stay at Kodaikanal. After having breakfast, we set out to explore Kodaikanal. Taxis for sightseeing are readily available in Kodaikanal. We hired one.
We first headed to see Kodaikanal Lake from the Upper Lake View Point. Then we went to the Pine Forest. I had always longed to be amidst tall pine trees covered in fog and mist. Even though that did not happen, the Sun and clouds were playing hide and seek creating a nice atmosphere. We spent some time there, ate really good carrots and had delicious mushroom soup known as kalan soup by the locals.
We then headed to Moir Point, Guna Caves, and Pillar Rocks. Moir Point provides lovely view of hills and valleys. It also has a monument and a overhead view point. Guna caves was formerly known as Devil's kitchen; this place became a tourist spot known as Guna Caves after the release of Tamil film called Gunaa whose climax was shot here. The caves are about 500 feet deep and very dangerous, so they are closed for tourists. We can only see them from afar. Pillar Rocks are a set of three giant rock pillars 400 feet high. They are some sight to catch, as soon as the clouds clear up.
There are no restaurants around these places but one can find small stalls selling snacks, home made chocolates and decorative items. A drink made from Nungu (sugar palm) was thirst quenching. We then went to Green Valley View formerly called Suicide Point. There is about a 4900 feet drop below; not to worry as the area is fenced. However, one has to be careful about the monkeys; they are not just fond of food but also the gadgets in your hand. We stopped by and saw a 500 year old tree on the way to Coaker's Walk. Then we spent some time at the Coaker's Walk. It is a 1 km paved pedestrian path constructed along the edge of a hill.
In the evening we walked around the Kodaikanal Lake. It is a 5 km walk on a nicely constructed footpath along Lake Road. Most of the shops are on the other side of Lake Road and hence there is little obstruction when you walk around the lake. The entire walk felt refreshing. We stopped at Bryant Park. It is a botanical garden. It had some tiny flowers and a fountain in a pool that is not well maintained. There is a shop called Sangeeta Tea Corner outside the park. Every evening we used to walk along Lake Road and have very nice ginger tea and bread omlette at this shop.
On Day 2, we started with Gundar Falls also known as Neptune Pool. There was little water. We stopped by to see the Palani Hills View on the way to Mahalakshmi Temple situated on a small hill, on Poombarai Road. We then headed to Poombarai village to see Kuzhandai Velappar Temple. It is a 3000 year old temple. On the way we saw terrace farming at Poombarai.
It was about 3 PM and the best part of the trip arrived. It was the Pambar Falls trek. Pambar Falls is also known as Grand Cascade. It is a group of four waterfalls spread over an area of about 1 km. One has to trek through the forest beside the falls to visit each waterfall. There is a cave near the fourth Pambar Falls. It is called Lion's Cave by the locals. It was cloudy and drizzling for a while when we started the trek; as a result the weather was cool. It turned out to be a lovely trek. 😊
After this we went to Vattakanal trek. This trek begins a few hundred metres near the starting point for Dolphin's Nose trek. There is a very narrow gravel path that takes us from the tar road down into a thin forest on the slope of the hills. The trek ends at the edge of the hills that provides breathtaking views of the hills and valleys surrounding Vattakanal. As soon as we reached the edge of the slope, I was in awe; I felt out of the world or atleast the feeling was that of seeing Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe. I saw beautiful hills; the depth was scary. I could not believe it was just there right in front of us. It was an amazing view. 😊 We visited La Salette Church in the evening. After the sunset we walked around in the Kodaikanal City familiarized overselves with its streets and corners. We found some restaurants around Seven Roads Junction at Club Road and Poet Tyagaraja Road. The Tibetan restaurants close at about 8 PM and most other restaurants close at about 9 PM. After walking up and down the hilly streets we chose a place to dine at and called it a day.
After two days in Kodaikanal we learnt that the drivers may sometimes show us something but call it something else. For example, during the Vattakanal Trek, our driver showed us a rock far off on one of the hills and told us it was Dolphin's Nose. He said that it could only be seen from afar. Later we found out that it was not true. That is something they do when they cannot take us to some places due to lack of time. Similarly, when they cannot show a certain waterfall that interests us, they would pick up one of the four waterfalls of Pambar Falls and call it to be the waterfall we ask for. For example, when we asked about visiting Bear Shola Falls, our driver showed us one of the Pambar falls and told us that it was Bear Shola Falls. They seem to take advantage of the fact that the Pambar Falls is not documented properly either on the Internet or anywhere in the city.
It was Day 3 and the last day of our stay in Kodaikanal. It was time we did boating at Kodaikanal Lake. We started quite early and hired a rowboat from one of the boat houses. It was only a 15 minutes service by our boatman; it was good. It would have been even better in the evening when it is not sunny and the lake looks more beautiful. One can also go for cycling and horse riding around the lake. We skipped them, partly because the horses smelt bad, and mostly beause we wanted to see a few more waterfalls and we also wanted to set our foot on Dolphin's Nose.
We then headed to Silver Cascade Falls. It is a 180 feet waterfall formed from the outflow of Kodaikanal Lake. Next we saw Bear Shola Falls and Fairy Falls. They are almost dry during this time of the year.
Then we started the trek to Dolphin's Nose. The roots of the trees have extended a long way and crisscrossed to form a nice stairway along the trek. It was getting hotter as time went by. We stopped several times here and there either to take a look at the hills and tall pine trees or grab a refreshing drink from the stalls. Finally, we reached Dolphin's Nose. It is a flat rock projecting over a breathtaking chasm about 6600 feet deep. I had to go there a second time to actually enjoy the place because when I went there the first time I was too scared of the height to take a good look around. We then walked to Difference Rock and Echo Rock.
We were left with a couple of hours before boarding the bus back to Bangalore. We went to Kodaikanal Lake for paddle boating. After boating, we relaxed on Lake Road for one last time and said goodbye to Kodaikanal until next time.