Today, rains in Delhi bought back the festive cheer killing the week long SMOG clouding all around Delhi / NCR. As I am usually up for an early morning catch-up breakfast with a few special folks, we decided let's step out and drive away to a place far from the traffic snarls yet has a festive cheer.
The thought came to go to Kodaikanal.
While you may think I am crazy and my rest of the gang mad but then this is how life should be - unplanned, unbiased and unimaginable yet positive .
Known world over as the princess of hill stations, this place has made me fall in love all over again. My first thought on reaching here was, this can't be in India.
This has to be a foreign location. Pristine surrounding, lovely people to talk to and spend time with and not to forget the bicycles that can be rented to take a ride or two around the famous Kodaikanal Lake.
Believe me this 5 kms path that goes around the periphery of this lovely lake is a favorite walk for the locals and tourists. Head up for an early morning walk or take a casual stroll in the evening and see the stars twinkle when they come; its all worth it.
Area is kept neat and clean and people make a conscious effort to ensure they do not litter.
We took a flight from Delhi to Chennai and then a Chennai - Madurai connecting flight . From Madurai airport its a close 3.5 hours drive for 130 kms all through Palani hills and its scenic. You can stop on way to relish a good coconut water break or just click some pictures while you are on the move.
While there are a whole lot of places that you can visit and drink and dine in while at Kodai , I am sharing my top picks for you.
Happy to help you plan your trip in case your visiting as I have other hidden gems as well .
1. Coffee at Cafe Cariappa: Enter onto the P.T. Road and tilt your head slightly up and you see a small coffee place. Its known all around as the place for a superb cappuccino and home made cakes. The one man show is run by Ms.Latha who is a delight to watch as she prepares your meal and in parallel chats up on your queries.
Try the Tosca and the Carrot cake.
And yes, you may meet some interesting travelers - solo or couple or group and they can be good buddies or spouses in the long run.
2. Sunday Market: There is a weekly market which happens on every Sunday.
You have to be here to catch the action.
3. Kurinji Andavar Murugan temple: For the religious you, this temple which is famous for its Kurinji flower which blossoms in the area only once every 12 years. The deity here is called Sri Kurinji Easwaran, who is in fact Lord Murugan.
4. Stay: We stayed at the heritage yet elegant, the only property bang on the Kodai Lake - The Carlton. Majority of the hotel's room overlook the blue lake and at times you may not want to step out only. The rooms, food and service are all very good and I liked the Silver Oak restaurant and the in-house bar called as - The End of The Road bar.
And this is not all .
5. KIS: The famous Kodaikanal International School (KIS), also known Kodai School is a proud neighbor of the Carlton and a landmark of Kodai. While you cannot enter as a visitor since its restricted, in case you can pull some strings, its worth a visit. The canteen and the global students are really good and will take you back to your school days.
6. Green Valley View: (formerly called Suicide Point) offers an excellent panoramic view of the plains overlooking the Vaigai Dam to the south. Its a picture perfect place.
7.Pastry Corner Kodaikanal: The ice-creams here are soft and melt in mouth kind.
There is a counter inside Spencers as well but I would suggest you visit the main outlet.
8. Cottage Craft Shop: This place sells incense, embroidery, hats, bags and other goods crafted by disadvantaged groups across India, with about 80% of the purchase price returned to the makers. Located on PT road . The cause caught our eye .
9: Sacred Heart Natural Science Museum: A little detour in the grounds of a former Jesuit seminary, this museum has an array of flora and fauna put together over more than 100 years by priests and trainees. Displays range over bottled snakes, human embryos, giant moths and stuffed animal carcasses. Not everyone's interest but done pretty neat.
10. Bhuttas ( Corn ): On the Kodai lakeside, you should drop by and grab a healthy bit of awesome corn done pretty fast in a way you may not have seen earlier.
Look forward for your own Kodai experiences.