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Get Lost in the Wilderness: Top 10 Jungle Retreats in Kodaikanal

Last updated :
March 10, 2024

minutes read

Are you ready to embark on an enchanting journey to the "Gift of the Forest"? That's right, we're talking about Kodaikanal, a mesmerizing hill station nestled in the heart of Tamil Nadu. This place is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and thrilling adventures. So, buckle up and let's dive into the magical world of Kodaikanal!

Brief Overview of Kodaikanal

Located in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal is a haven for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. With its name translating to "The Gift of the Forest" in Tamil, Kodaikanal lives up to its name with its lush greenery, serene lakes, cascading waterfalls, and majestic hills. But that's not all! Kodaikanal is also rich in cultural heritage, being home to the Paliyan tribal people, and has a fascinating history that dates back to the early Christian era.

Why is Kodaikanal Famous?

Kodaikanal is often referred to as the "Princess of Hill Stations", and for good reason. Its main claim to fame is its breathtaking natural beauty, which includes the iconic Kodaikanal Lake and the awe-inspiring Pillar Rocks.

But there's more to Kodaikanal than just its scenic landscapes. The town also offers a plethora of activities for visitors, from boating and horse riding to trekking and cycling, making it a perfect destination for both relaxation and adventure.

Best Time to Visit Kodaikanal

Wondering when to pack your bags for Kodaikanal? Well, the good news is that Kodaikanal is a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit is from October to June when the weather is at its best. The winter months (December and January) can be a bit chilly, but they offer a unique charm with the misty hills and cool breeze.

On the other hand, the summer months bring out the most vibrant colours in the flora of Kodaikanal, making it a photographer's paradise. And let's not forget the monsoons, when Kodaikanal turns into a picturesque wonderland with its glistening waterfalls and lush greenery.

Getting to Kodaikanal

Now that you're all set to explore the wonders of Kodaikanal, let's figure out how to get there. Whether you prefer the convenience of air travel, the scenic views of a train journey, or the adventure of a road trip, Kodaikanal has got you covered!

Travelling by Air, Train, and Road

Getting to Kodaikanal is a breeze, no matter where you're coming from. Here's a handy table that breaks down your options for reaching this beautiful hill station by air, train, or road:

Mode of Transport Details
Air The nearest airports are Madurai (120 km away), Trichy (150 km away), and Coimbatore (175 km away). From these airports, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Kodaikanal.
Train The nearest railway station is Kodai Road, about 80-90 km from Kodaikanal. Major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, and Madurai have trains passing through this station. Once you reach Kodai Road, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Kodaikanal.
Road Kodaikanal is well-connected by road to major cities in Tamil Nadu. The drive to Kodaikanal is a visual treat, with winding roads surrounded by lush greenery and panoramic views of the hills.

Local Transportation

Once you're in Kodaikanal, getting around is a breeze. While local buses don't ply the streets of Kodaikanal, taxis are readily available, though they can be a bit expensive. For the more adventurous, bike rental services are also available, offering a fun and flexible way to explore the town at your own pace. Just remember to wear your helmet and follow the traffic rules!

Exploring Kodaikanal

Now that we've arrived in Kodaikanal, let's dive into the heart of this enchanting hill station and explore its many wonders!

Kodaikanal Lake

At the heart of Kodaikanal lies the shimmering Kodaikanal Lake, a man-made marvel that adds a unique charm to the town. This star-shaped lake is not just a feast for the eyes, but it's also the hub of many exciting activities.

Special Features of Kodaikanal Lake

What makes Kodaikanal Lake special is its serene beauty that can soothe any weary soul. The lake is surrounded by lush greenery, making it a perfect spot for picnics. The lake is also home to a rich variety of birds, making it a paradise for bird watchers. But the most unique feature of this lake is its shape - it's star-shaped! This unique shape gives the lake its distinct identity and adds to its allure.

Activities around Kodaikanal Lake

There's never a dull moment at Kodaikanal Lake. Here are some activities you can indulge in:

  • Boating: You can rent a pedal boat or a rowboat and enjoy a leisurely ride on the lake.
  • Horse Riding: Fancy a horse ride? You can do that too around the lake.
  • Cycling: If you're into fitness, you can rent a bicycle and take a ride around the lake.
  • Walking: A peaceful walk around the lake, especially during the sunrise or sunset, is a must-do.

Pillar Rocks Viewpoint

Next on our list is the Pillar Rocks Viewpoint, a place that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and valleys.

The Story of Pillar Rocks

The Pillar Rocks are a set of three massive rock pillars that stand shoulder to shoulder, reaching up to a height of 400 feet. These rocks are not just a natural wonder but also hold a fascinating story. It's said that an Englishman named David Gelli, who was smitten by the beauty of Kodaikanal used to visit these rocks frequently. The chambers between these rocks are known as the Devil's Kitchen, adding a touch of mystery to the place.

What Makes Pillar Rocks Special?

What makes Pillar Rocks special is not just their towering height, but also the breathtaking view they offer. From the top of these rocks, you can get a bird's eye view of the surrounding lush greenery and valleys. The place is also known for its serene and peaceful environment, making it a perfect spot for those seeking some quiet time.

Other Attractions and Things to Do in Kodaikanal

But that's not all! Kodaikanal has much more to offer. Here are some other attractions and activities you can explore:

  • Visit the Bear Shola Falls, a beautiful waterfall located in a secluded corner of Kodaikanal.
  • Take a walk along Coaker's Walk, a man-made walking plaza built on the mountains.
  • Explore the Pine Forest, a preserved heritage of Kodaikanal.
  • Visit the Kurinji Andavar Temple, a sacred abode dedicated to Lord Muruga.
  • Experience the thrill of trekking to Dolphin's Nose, a flat rock projecting over a breathtaking chasm.
  • Visit Bryant Park, a beautifully maintained botanical garden.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Kodaikanal has a lot more to offer. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey!

The Natural Beauty of Kodaikanal

One of the things that make Kodaikanal a paradise for nature lovers is its abundant natural beauty. From cascading waterfalls to dense forests, Kodaikanal is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Let's explore some of them!

Waterfalls in Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Tamil Nadu. Here are a few you should definitely check out:

  • Bear Shola Falls: A seasonal waterfall that comes alive during the monsoons. It's also a great spot for short treks.
  • Pambar Waterfalls: Also known as the "Grand Cascade", this waterfall offers a breathtaking view.
  • Thalaiyar Waterfalls: Also known as the "Rat Tail Falls", it's one of the highest waterfalls in Tamil Nadu.
  • Silver Cascade Waterfalls: This waterfall is a result of the overflowing of the Kodaikanal Lake.

Vellagavi Forest Reserve

Located close to Kodaikanal, Vellagavi is a village known for its rich biodiversity. The village, which is home to about 300 people, is perched on a hilltop and is not connected by road. The trek to Vellagavi village, also known as Old Kodaikanal, is a challenging yet rewarding experience. The path is laden with rocks, and while the descent might not be too challenging, the return journey certainly is. But the breathtaking views and the unique experience of being in a village cut off from the rest of the world make it all worth it.

The Flora and Fauna

Kodaikanal is a haven for nature lovers, thanks to its rich flora and fauna. The region is home to a variety of plants, including the unique Kurinji flower that blooms once every 12 years. The last bloom was in 2018, so if you're planning a trip in 2030, you're in for a treat!

As for fauna, Kodaikanal is home to a variety of wildlife. The forests around Kodaikanal are teeming with life, from barking deer to wild boars, and from giant squirrels to a variety of birds. If you're lucky, you might even spot a leopard or a bison!

Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a wildlife lover, or just someone looking for a peaceful getaway, Kodaikanal has something for everyone. Come, explore the natural beauty of Kodaikanal and create memories that will last a lifetime!

The Cultural Heritage

While Kodaikanal's natural beauty is undoubtedly enchanting, its rich cultural heritage adds another layer of charm to this beautiful hill station. Let's delve into the cultural aspects of Kodaikanal.

Castes and Tribes of Southern India/Paliyans - Wikisource, the free online  library
(Source: Wikisource)

The Paliyan Tribe

The earliest residents of Kodaikanal were the Paliyan tribal people. The Paliyans, also known as Palaiyar or Pazhaiyar, are a group of around 9,500 formerly nomadic Dravidian tribals living in the South Western Ghats montane rain forests in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Here are some interesting facts about them:

  • They are traditional nomadic hunter-gatherers, honey hunters, and foragers.
  • Yams are their major food source.
  • The Paliyans have a rich cultural heritage and have contributed significantly to the cultural fabric of Kodaikanal.

Historical Significance of Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal has a rich history that adds to its allure. Here are some key historical facts about Kodaikanal:

  • The name Kodaikanal means "The Gift of the Forest" in the Tamil language.
  • Modern Kodaikanal was established as a hill station by American missionaries in 1845, as a refuge from the high temperatures and tropical diseases of the plains.
  • In the 20th century, a few elite Indians realized the value of this place and started relocating here. Kodaikanal is sometimes referred to as the "Princess of Hill Stations".
  • The year 1853 is a landmark year as Kodaikanal witnessed social and religious reforms in the city. The American and British missionaries brought about further development in the region in the field of education and medicine.
  • The earliest specific references to Kodaikanal and the Palani Hills are found in Tamil Sangam literature of the early Christian era.

Kodaikanal is not just a place of natural beauty, but it's also a place steeped in history and culture. A visit to Kodaikanal is like taking a step back in time, where you can experience the charm of the old world while enjoying the comforts of the modern world.

Accommodation in Kodaikanal

After a day of exploring the natural and cultural wonders of Kodaikanal, you'll need a comfortable place to rest and recharge. Whether you're looking for a luxurious resort or a cozy homestay, Kodaikanal has got you covered. Let's explore some of the best accommodation options in Kodaikanal.

Hotels near Vellagavi Forest Reserve

Staying near the Vellagavi Forest Reserve not only gives you easy access to one of Kodaikanal's natural treasures but also offers a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle. Here are some of the top-rated hotels near Vellagavi Forest Reserve:

  • The Xanadu Meghadootam: Located in Naidupuram, this hotel is known for its luxurious accommodation and lush green gardens.
  • The Tamara Kodai: This hotel offers a blend of luxury and heritage, and it's located near the Vattakanal Waterfalls.
  • Jungle Retreat Natural Stay Kombaikadu: This retreat offers a unique experience of staying amidst nature, and it's located close to the forest reserve.

Elephant Valley Eco Farm Hotel

If you're looking for an eco-friendly stay, the Elephant Valley Eco Farm Hotel is a great choice. Spread over 100 acres in the Palani hills, this hotel is located on an elephant migration route that is centuries old. It features an on-site restaurant and has its own IMO-certified organic coffee plantation and farm. The scenic city of Kodaikanal is just 20 km away, making it a peaceful retreat with easy access to the city's attractions.

Best Jungle Retreats in Kodaikanal

Choosing the right accommodation can make your trip even more enjoyable. To help you out, we've compiled a list of the top 10 jungle resorts in Kodaikanal, complete with their locations and suggested booking platforms. Take a look!

Resort Name Location Booking Platform
The Xanadu Meghadootam Kodaikanal Makemytrip
The Tamara Kodai Near Vattakanal Waterfalls
Jungle Retreat Natural Stay Kombaikadu Close to the forest reserve Agoda
Elephant Valley Eco Farm Hotel Palani Hills
Le Vanira Inn Kodaikanal Easemytrip
Villa Retreat Boutique Hotel Coakers Walk Yatra
Treebo Trend Kodai Kings Park Kodaikanal Makemytrip
Cloudwalks Kodaikanal Kodaikanal
Fabhotel Tranquil Heights Kodaikanal Kodaikanal Agoda
Vivera Highlands Kodaikanal Easemytrip

Remember, the best place to stay in Kodaikanal depends on your personal preferences and what you want to do during your visit. Choose the one that best suits your needs and enjoy your stay in this beautiful hill station.

Comparing Hill Stations

India, with its diverse geography, is blessed with a plethora of hill stations, each with its unique charm and attractions. In this section, we'll compare Kodaikanal with some other popular hill stations like Ooty, Coorg, and Munnar. So, buckle up as we embark on this exciting journey of exploring these beautiful hill stations!

Kodaikanal vs Ooty

Choosing between Kodaikanal and Ooty can be a tough decision as both hill stations have their unique offerings. Let's compare the two:

  • Location: Ooty is located in the Nilgiris Mountain on the Western Ghats, while Kodaikanal is situated on the Palani Hills, part of the Eastern Ghats. Despite being on opposite sides, they both enjoy similar climatic conditions.
  • Natural Beauty: Kodaikanal is known for its dense forests, picture-perfect valleys, splendid lakes, and refreshing waterfalls. On the other hand, Ooty is famous for its lush tea gardens, rolling meadows, and colonial charm.
  • Activities: Both Kodaikanal and Ooty offer a range of activities for tourists. While Kodaikanal is more about exploring nature and enjoying tranquillity, Ooty offers fun steam engine rides and a vibrant local market.

Ultimately, the choice between Kodaikanal and Ooty depends on your personal preferences. If you're a nature lover seeking peace and tranquillity, Kodaikanal might be the right choice for you. But if you're looking for a mix of nature, adventure, and local culture, Ooty could be a better option.

Kodaikanal vs Coorg

Next up is Coorg, also known as the Scotland of India. Let's see how it compares to Kodaikanal:

  • Location: Coorg is located in the Western Ghats in Karnataka, while Kodaikanal is in the Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu. Both offer stunning views of the mountains and lush greenery.
  • Climate: Coorg has a tropical monsoon climate and is known for its pleasant weather throughout the year. Kodaikanal, on the other hand, has a subtropical highland climate, with cooler temperatures, especially during the winter months.
  • Natural Beauty: Coorg is famous for its lush coffee plantations, stunning waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the Western Ghats. Kodaikanal, meanwhile, is known for its dense forests, beautiful valleys, splendid lakes, and refreshing waterfalls.
  • Activities: Coorg offers a range of activities like trekking, coffee plantation tours, and bird watching. In Kodaikanal, you can enjoy boating, horse riding, and exploring nature trails.

Both Coorg and Kodaikanal have their unique charm and beauty. If you're a coffee lover and enjoy lush green landscapes, Coorg might be the place for you. But if you prefer cooler climates and love exploring forests and lakes, Kodaikanal could be your ideal destination.

Kodaikanal vs Munnar

Lastly, let's compare Kodaikanal with Munnar, another popular hill station in South India:

  • Location: Munnar is located in the Western Ghats in Kerala, while Kodaikanal is in the Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu. Both are nestled in the mountains and offer stunning views.
  • Climate: Munnar, known for its cool and invigorating climate, is a perfect escape from the tropical heat of the plains. Kodaikanal also boasts of a pleasant climate throughout the year, with temperatures rarely going beyond 20 degrees Celsius.
  • Natural Beauty: Munnar is famous for its vast tea plantations, exotic flora and fauna, and beautiful valleys. Kodaikanal, on the other hand, is known for its dense forests, beautiful valleys, splendid lakes, and refreshing waterfalls.
  • Activities: Munnar offers activities like tea plantation tours, trekking, and wildlife spotting. In Kodaikanal, you can enjoy boating, horse riding, and exploring nature trails.

Both Munnar and Kodaikanal are beautiful in their own ways. If you're a tea lover and enjoy wildlife spotting, Munnar might be the place for you. But if you prefer exploring forests and lakes, Kodaikanal could be your ideal destination.

There you have it! A comparison of Kodaikanal with some of the most popular hill stations in South India. Each of these places has its unique charm and attractions. But one thing's for sure, no matter where you choose to go, you're in for an unforgettable experience!

Planning Your Visit

Planning a trip to Kodaikanal? Great choice! But how many days should you spend in this beautiful hill station? And what are the best things to do in Kodaikanal with family? Let's find out!

Is 1, 2, or 3 Days Enough for Kodaikanal?

How many days you should spend in Kodaikanal really depends on what you want to see and do. Here's a general guideline:

  • 1 Day: If you only have one day, focus on the main attractions like Kodaikanal Lake, Coaker's Walk, and Bryant Park.
  • 2 Days: With two days, you can explore the above attractions and also visit places like Pillar Rocks, Guna Caves, and Silver Cascade Falls.
  • 3 Days: Three days in Kodaikanal allows you to enjoy all the above, plus some time for leisurely activities like boating on the lake, shopping for homemade chocolates, or just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful views.

Remember, these are just suggestions. Feel free to customize your itinerary based on your interests and preferences!

Best Things to Do in Kodaikanal with Family

Travelling with family? Kodaikanal has plenty of family-friendly attractions and activities. Here are some of the best:

  • Kodaikanal Lake: Enjoy boating on the lake, or take a leisurely walk around it. The lake also has a beautiful park nearby where kids can play.
  • Bryant Park: This well-maintained park is known for its variety of flowers and plants. It's a great place for a family picnic.
  • Pillar Rocks: The view from Pillar Rocks is simply breathtaking. It's a great spot for family photos!
  • Silver Cascade Falls: The sight of water cascading down from a height of 180 feet is something your kids will love. Don't forget to try the fresh fruits sold by vendors near the falls.

These are just a few of the many family-friendly attractions in Kodaikanal.


As we wrap up our virtual tour of Kodaikanal, let's revisit why this hill station is worth your time and what makes it so special.

Why Kodaikanal is Worth Visiting

From the serene Kodaikanal Lake to the majestic Pillar Rocks, from the rich cultural heritage of the Paliyan tribe to the lush greenery of the Vellagavi Forest Reserve, Kodaikanal is a treasure trove of natural beauty and cultural richness. Whether you're a nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, a history buff, or someone simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Kodaikanal has something for everyone.

  • Natural Beauty: Kodaikanal's natural beauty is its biggest draw. The panoramic views of the hills, the tranquil lakes, the refreshing waterfalls, and the lush greenery are a treat for the eyes and the soul.
  • Cultural Heritage: The rich cultural heritage of Kodaikanal, as seen in the traditions of the Paliyan tribe, adds an extra layer of charm to this hill station.
  • Activities: From boating on the lake to trekking in the forest, from exploring the local markets to learning about the local culture, there's never a dull moment in Kodaikanal.

Final Thoughts on the Famous Hill Station Kodaikanal

So there you have it, folks! That's Kodaikanal for you - a place where nature and culture come together to create a destination that's as enchanting as it is diverse. Whether you're planning a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure, Kodaikanal is a place that promises a memorable experience.

So why wait? Start planning your trip to Kodaikanal today and get ready to create some unforgettable memories!

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Shuaib Azam
Shuaib is a Marketing & Growth lead at Hubble. When he isn't working on growth initiatives, Shuaib writes fiction and doodles space monkeys.

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