NOTE: No lengthy info about the places visited, plenty of them available on net
So we picked the wrong time of the year to visit a hill station, more on that later. It was an impromptu suggestion by a friend to visit a hill station in the south and I had been planning on visiting one for months, only that it was being marred by things galore. Not wasting any more time, I went ahead and booked a certain budget “Hotel Gurupriya” on cleartrip looking at the good reviews and it having Wi-Fi** connectivity as bonus. The way from Bangalore to Kodaikanal is a highway throughout, so it was a no-brainer, we would take our motorcycles no matter what. And since we weren’t expecting any surprises on the way, our non-existent planning went down the drain, much like water in the waterfall below.
We both set out early morning at around 5.30am, and stopped only for breakfast, lunch and butt-ache breaks. It was a beautiful sunny day, the roads were brilliant and the scenery was breathtaking . Our pointer to Kodaikanal was Salem-Karur-Dindigul and the big signboards throughout guided us to exactly where we were headed. In short, a bland ride but a beautiful one. The entry to Kodai is a mere Rs 5/-, infact most of the other attractions carried an entry fee of either Rs 5/- or Rs 10/-. Kodai greeted us with silver casade waterfalls where we stopped for a few pictures. Now, as much as I love riding, I did wish for something to break the monotony. We had ridden for 5 hrs straight and hence decided to get some refreshments, and as we were about to leave, a guy approached us from behind, asking if we were looking to buy some “shrooms” aka Magic mushrooms. These shrooms which grow in the hilly region of Kodai induce a hallucinating effect and is quite popular with youngsters wanting to try it out. We flatly refused though and he did something that I would never have expected, handing us a card with his number incase we changed our minds, now that’s interesting. Or just plain stupid considering that selling it is illegal. Nevertheless, after riding for an hour more through the picturesque hilly roads, tiled at certain stretches, we found our hotel in no time. The transition from a sunny noon to a cold cloudy one did not go unnoticed. After resting for a while, we headed out to Kodai Lake and on the way got scammed Rs 300/- for a couple of rotis and biryani at a hotel in the city. To make matters a bit difficult, I had forgotten to pack my warmers which made me happily retire to my warm cozy bed pretty early that night.
We covered pretty much everything Kodaikanal had to offer the next day. A wrong turn made sure we went around Kodai Lake and the roads reminded me of a street circuit, it was THAT brilliant. We plotted Dolphin Nose, Observatory, Guna caves, Pine forest, Suicide point, Bryant Park, Bear Shola falls, Coakers Walk and Pillar Rock on Google maps and having our bikes made it that much easier to visit these places at our own pace. Please note that the Observatory is open for public only on Fridays. Call us lazy, but we decided to skip Berijam Lake and other places which required Forest Departments permission. Now about the wrong time to visit Kodai, the thick fog made it impossible to see anything beyond 50 mts, AT NOON, and this made our visit to Pillar Rock and Suicide point futile, all we could see was fog and more fog. I was pretty disheartened though, to see almost every other place littered with plastic despite the warning signboards and the adequate bins provided to discard waste. Also a turn-off was the fencing of openings, which took away the natural beauty of the place, though it made sense after hearing stories of stupid people falling off cliffs and open trenches, some trying to retrieve their cellphones after dropping them. With our stomachs grumbling, we headed out to a much recommended Royal Tibet for lunch, and not to take away anything from the place, but the food was OK, not worth the hype. The old man there was courteous though and the Tibet Bread was surprisingly different. We spent the evening by visiting Coakers Walk though I suggest others to go there during mornings instead. The open ambiance of Tredis tea room tempted us into trying out the place, OKish again. Our day ended with us watching Ind-WI ODI on TV where India lost *sigh. As we geared up the next day to complete the 470 odd kms trip back to Bangalore there was nothing much to take back, though I loved the ride back home with the CBR happily cruising along the highway without any complaints. I reached home to some concerned parent advice about safe riding as I reached an hour early *sigh, not important.
To sum it up, I find it hard to understand the appeal of Kodaikanal. It’s a bountiful of nature alright, beautiful even, but is way too commercialized and the place is littered with plastic. I saw a bunch of couples, probably on their honeymoon and felt a little sad seeing them struggle to get the background in their pictures, with the fog and all, talk about it being memorable. Maybe what I heard was right, youngsters come here for the “shrooms”, couples for you know what and families for the picnic like ambience. To me, it was just the way up the hill and around. I suggest others who are planning to visit Kodai for more than 2 days to book a nice resort/cottage overlooking the hills instead, You can cover the other places within a day unless you decide to go trekking.
**Note to anyone getting swayed by the reviews and considering booking rooms at Hotel Gurupriya, Wi-Fi connectivity is for deluxe rooms only, not executive (wrong advertising by cleartrip) and the hotel is quite some distance away from the main attractions.