Monday, August 6, 2012


On January 4th, our old bus made its way safely up into the mountains at Kodaikanal. 

 Nice Man who Sat Across from Us on the Bus

 Group Photo, Always Popular in India, Taken on Route to Kodaikanal

As we arrived in the town, light rain was falling - the only rain of the entire trip. Our hotel was very basic; staff were helpful, but it was definitely a no-frills kind of place. Kodaikanal is set in beautiful mountains, but the town itself is not attractive.

 View from our Hotel Window

We had trouble finding a decent restaurant for lunch, finally settling for the one that looked best. It didn't leave us totally confident, though with vegetable curry you can't go far wrong. We walked around a bit, but it was the sort of cloudy, gloomy day only the mountains can produce, so we returned to our hotel.  For dinner and for all the next day's meals we went to the town's only five star hotel, the Carlton. It's website describes it as "old colonial charm" and I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed it.

On January 5th, we hired a very nice young driver called Raja to drive us around for the day to see the sights. First he took us to Coaker’s Walk. This was an amazing 20-minute paved walkway carved into the mountainside. We were up so high - more than 2,000 metres in elevation - that we were able to look down onto the tops of the adjacent mountains. The views were spectacular.

 Coaker's Walk
 View of Mountains from Coaker's Walk

In and around the town we also saw a large lake, two waterfalls, and some very attractive mountain scenery.

 Our Driver, Raja

Scenery near Kodaikanal

 Eucalyptus Trees near Kodaikanal

Mountains near Kodaikanal

For a number of years eastern India has had a problem with violence perpetrated by a revolutionary communist group called the Naxalites. We hadn't been aware of a Naxalite problem at Kodaikanal, and were surprised when Raja took us to see a small lookout tower which he said had recently been constructed for the purpose of detecting Naxalite activity. We thought this was a bit fanciful to say the least, especially as the tower was unmanned. Still, anything is possible in India, and it provided a good photo opportunity.

Naxalite Detection Lookout Tower

We had a good time with Raja and decided to hire him again the next day. Bryant's Garden which was quite beautiful was the highlight.

 Bryant's Garden

Flowers in Bryant's Garden

The people at our hotel were very friendly and helpful, but neglected to tell us on our first day that we could have a heater in our room. With the temperature barely above freezing, as the afternoon sun sank below the mountain peaks, we were becoming thoroughly chilled. We decided, instead of waiting for the heater to appear, that it would be a good idea to go for a drink in the lobby of the five star Carlton hotel where we had been having our meals. 

We found seats directly in front of a big, beautiful wood fire. What a wonderful feeling! And how we enjoyed the scotch and blush Zinfandel! Wine and beer are almost impossible to find in Tamil Nadu which is a dry state. Hotels in the temple towns we visited didn't have bars - not surprising when visitors were likely to be pilgrims. There was no diet Pepsi or decaf either, so we usually had to settle for mineral water.  Having suffered this deprivation and being chilled to the bone, we definitely felt a need to pamper ourselves.

On January 6th we left Kodaikanal for Kanyakumari, at the southernmost tip of India where the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean come together.

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