Off beat places that you can't miss when in Kodaikanal

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Photo of Off beat places that you can't miss when in Kodaikanal 1/1 by Sushma Neeraj

It may have taken a while to gain popularity, but thanks to good roads and Ooty becoming super populated, Kodaikanal is finally shining on. While it has also become a bit crowded, it’s still serene and beautiful during off-season. Naturally, you know about the Bear Shola falls, the Kodai lake and Bryant’s Park, but here are few things just a bit off the beaten path. Go on, explore The Gift of the Forest {the translation of Kodaikanal in Tamil}.

Lesser known to most, this amazing observatory is the property of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. And when we went in April of 2017, over 100 years of analogue data was being digitised, slowly but surely. In fact, the whole system of processes was {and for the most part still is} analogue. There is a museum and library on campus too. So if you want to learn about the solar system, check out photos of the sky, and read up on astronomical literature of astronomical value, then put this on your To-Do list. My favourite part is the refractor though. They open it out sometimes at night to look at the night sky.

Photo of Kodaikanal Solar Observatory, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Sushma Neeraj

A little outside the main Kodai town, Pillar’s Rock should be on your itinerary if you like trekking and a bit of adventure. Three giant rock pillars stand out of the mountain, and the space between the two of them, called Devil’s Kitchen, is a fine spot for photos. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a clear view from a distance, to take epic photos. And if you’re luckier, there will be a bit of mist surrounding the area to give you a magical view of the mountains — just like the Chinese Floating Mountains at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. See, no need to spend oodles of money to travel to the Orient.

Photo of Pillar Rocks Viewpoint, Pillar Rocks Road, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Sushma Neeraj

One of the best kept secrets of Kodai, the Kookal Caves {sometimes called Kukkal Caves}, it’s about 40kms out of the main town. The trek down to the caves is rather steep {and of course, on the way back up, worse}, but when you reach the dwellings of the Paliyan tribes, then you’ll forget your aching muscles. Known to be one of the earliest tribes who inhabited the area, the caves are actually hanging slabs of charconite and granulate, both metamorphic rocks. To get to the caves you need to trudge through pine and wattles forests, and in the monsoon, a whole lot of leeches, so be careful. Gum boots really save the day, but that doesn’t mean you should not be careful. Oh, and take water, a torch, and stick to the path.

Photo of Off beat places that you can't miss when in Kodaikanal by Sushma Neeraj

A precarious walkway on the outside edge of the mountain, this kilometre-long pedestrian bridge is the ideal spot to get gorgeous photos of the valley and the surrounding mountains & its called Coaker's Walk. Further along the bridge, there is a telescope house to get a closer look of what you can’t see with the naked eye, but if you’re not interested in the details, just marvel at the larger picture of the landscape. Those who are up for a cycle ride, you’re allowed to do so on the walkway, but know that it’s usually pretty crowded.

Photo of Coaker's Walk, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Sushma Neeraj
Photo of Coaker's Walk, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Sushma Neeraj

Sure the Kodai lake is cool, but what if we told you there was a more serene and less crowded one just 8 kilometres from the Kodai Train Station? Ah ha, you’d love it, wouldn’t you? So go on over to the Berijam lake that is really a reservoir in the Palani hills. Overlooking a lush landscape, it is a man made lake, that has pristine blue waters {no, really it does}, pack a picnic to sit by the banks and enjoy. Boating is prohibited, though you’re free to walk around as much as you fancy. This spot too gets shrouded in mystery, or rather mist by mid-afternoon, so if you want a clear view, head here as early at 8.30am. Kids will also enjoy seeing bison, elephants, languor and deer around the lake.

Photo of Berijam Lake, Tamil Nadu by Sushma Neeraj
Photo of Berijam Lake, Tamil Nadu by Sushma Neeraj
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