The Himalayas we know are magnificent. What one didn’t know or imagine was the immensity & panoramic sweep of the ghats. Until I got there that is.
Kodi was a delightful surprise.
At 6998’ in the Palani hills – the southern most section of the Western Ghats- it was green & serene despite not having had rain in the last three years. (It normally has 2 monsoons)
It is July end & all the waterfalls are dry. Be it Silver Cascade, Bear Shola or Pambar of Liril advt fame. It was here that Karen Lunel had frolicked nymph like. The waterfall, now reduced to trickles of sludge & grime.
Rain or no rain gardens are in full bloom & the day pleasant & cool with evening temperatures going down 12 – 15 C. Mist clouds the sky then melts down the mountainside. There is sometimes, what passes for a drizzle. A faint drizzle.
Kodaikanal is a 5 hour drive from Coimbatore. Giant windmills dot the flat, windy & dusty countryside. The hill section of the road starts only at Palani 60 kms short of Kodi. It is a steep treacherous climb with several hairpin bends & turns that set the stomach churning.
1008 steps lead to the Murugan Karthikey temple at Palani. There is a cable car facility & the rare Kurunji tree that blossoms every 12 years. The next flowering expected in 2018.
We are booked at the Kodaikanal club (Estd 1887) bang on Seven roads junction, beside the lake & in the heart of town. What seems like the height of the unexpected is a working fireplace inside the bedroom, a box of matches & dry wood stacked in a corner. What’s more there is even an attendant to – start the fire. Steaming hot chocolate serves as nightcap. The linen is crested & it smells of lavender. Everything around appears to have either a monogram or crest. Even the tissue paper. The entire town an epitome of ‘colonial’ at its best
Kodi kids are everywhere, especially on a Sunday. These are children from Kodaikanal International School. They actually are known as Kodi kids. No brats these, unlike what have you …….but a global conglomerate, here to have an education.
Besides a stunning campus of architecture in stone & landscaped gardens the school boasts a charming little chapel, a local attraction within its precincts.
What is your idea of a great holiday? Mine simply is doing nothing worthwhile. Like sleeping, eating, reading, walking & taking in the scene. All worth the while.
Locals from surrounding villages bring in their ware for Sumthal – the daylong Sunday market. This includes a produce of exotic fruit, flower & vegetable. Shops are laden with spices, herbs, oils & home made chocolate & there is ‘Cloud Street’ for the best wood oven pizzas. It has free Wi-Fi too. Or try the Pot Luck café.
There is Bryants Park with 325 specie of plant & shrub & an 1857 Bodhi tree. A 5 km walk skirts the lake & there are cycles to be hired. The best walk is at Coakers where one walks on one side of the mountains’ edge in a valley, facing the opposite hill with a gorge in between.
Mansions of the rich & famous enliven the surroundings. Everyone from Mani Ratnam to Alagiri Scam of 3G fame is there. Black money also needs a home. No?
In the end as always, it is the people that make the place. So shall Kodi be remembered. For all the wonderful people. Foremost being the entrepreneur philanthropist Mr. Mani or Cheez Mani as he is popularly known for his cheese making skills.