6 Offbeat Places to Visit in Kodaikanal
Explore the Unexplored
Kodaikanal is one of the most popular hill stations in Tamilnadu, and its major sight-seeing attractions need no introduction. Kodai lake, Coaker's walk, Pillar Rocks, Guna caves, Golf Club, Bryant Park and Silver Cascade are all great places that most travelers are already aware of. In this article, I will talk about some of Kodaikanal's lesser-known attractions.
The six offbeat places to be covered are as given below.
- Berijam Lake
- Pine forest
- Private waterfalls inside a resort
- Cycling around Kodai lake
- Bajji stalls
- Hot chocolate shops
1. Berijam Lake
This secluded lake is not known to many regular travelers. It is located inside a reserve forest and entry is restricted by forest officials. Even then, permission is given only for daytime visit with a strict condition that we should leave the forest area well before the arrival of dusk.
It takes a couple of hours by car to reach Berijam lake from Kodai town. We can expect peace and solitude there, as there is never much of a crowd. One can soak in the virgin charm of this place with its lush greenery and pristine surroundings.
There are numerous stories of bison sightings around Berijam lake and how threatening they can be when they get aggressive. Leopard sightings are rare, though the big cats are known to be present in this region. One should remember not to venture deep in the woods, as that is the big cats' territory.
One should remember not to venture deep in the woods, as that is the big cats' territory.
2. Pine Forests
Mild adventure seekers can plan a minor trekking session around the famous Guna caves. Guna caves are the natural caves that became more popular after this became the backdrop for a namesake Tamil movie made in the nineties. This is probably the only cave to be named after a movie title in the world. The caves are now off-limits to tourists and the entry is sealed with grilled gates. Such restrictions became essential as the caves had a history of numerous suicides and accidental deaths.
The path leading to the cave is in the middle of a pine forest, so one should consider the pine forests as the main attraction. It offers plenty of photo opportunities, and one can walk for hours in the vicinity. It is certainly not a strenuous trek, and any reasonably healthy individual can enjoy the walk.
3. Private Waterfalls
The Kodai International hotel where we once stayed had a waterfall landlocked within its premises. Only the guests of the hotel can access this waterfall. Is it not amazing to sit and spend time with your near and dear ones near a private waterfall?
Please make sure that the hotel or the resort where you stay has adequate space and facilities for sports activities like table tennis or badminton. It is an opportunity for one to get some physical exercise considering our sedentary lifestyle.
Sterling Lake View, Carlton, Club Mahindra and Sterling Valley View are some of the other stay options worth considering. The first two are located closer to the lake with a nice view and the last two are located near a valley away from the main town.
4. Cycling Around The Lake
Everyone loves to go boating on the lake. But Kodai lake is even more special because of the very long road that surrounds the lake. The entire road is at a uniform level with no slopes, making it ideal for cycling. Hundreds of bicycles are available for rent around the lake.
Hire a bicycle for as much time as you want and enjoy the ride around the lake. There is a small stretch where most shops are located, and this section of the road is always crowded. Other than this stretch, the ride is enjoyable for most other parts with an unhindered lake view. You may be greeted by an occasional shower that comes without a warning, but the act of cycling would keep you warm even if you got drenched.
5. Bajji Stalls
The one food item that should not be missed is a snack called bajji. It is a popular snack in South India made by deep frying a vegetable slice dipped in batter. It is an indulgence worth having, but in moderation.
Bajjis can be made from various vegetables like plantain, potato, chilli, onion and even bread. The chilli bajji, or the milaga bajji as it is called in Tamil, is the most sought-after one. It is hot and spicy, just the kind that you would love in the cold weather.
Bajji is a great street food, so I don't have to refer a specific place. Look for any Bajji stall on the streets surrounding the lake or market area. Choose the one with the biggest crowd, as it is an affirmation of quality.
6. Hot Chocolate Shops
A few good chocolate shops can be found closer to Hotel Astoria in "Anna Road". The calorie boost after taking this drink will help one stay warm in the chilly weather. More importantly, it is yummy. If you wish to enjoy true South Indian vegetarian cuisine, you should also step into Hotel Astoria. This restaurant is usually very crowded. Once you taste the food here, you will know why it is always crowded.
Note: I am off sugar for more than four months, and there has been a noticeable positive impact on my health. I used to enjoy hot chocolate on my earlier trips to Kodaikanal but will not have it again. I am sharing this only as a piece of information about a local specialty that some of you may like.
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© 2019 Mohan Babu