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Overview

While hill stations like Shimla and Darjeeling offer a window onto the eccentric lifestyles of India's former colonial rulers, Kodaikanal was one of the few hill stations to be founded by Americans. The town owes its existence to a group of US missionaries who came here in the 1840s to bring education and Christianity to the tribal villages of the Palani Hills. Like other hill stations, Kodai has its share of historic churches, colonial villas and esteemed academies, but the main attraction is the chance to gaze out over the Tamil Nadu plains through the hazy morning light. The hills rise dramatically from the surrounding countryside, and ...

While hill stations like Shimla and Darjeeling offer a window onto the eccentric lifestyles of India's former colonial rulers, Kodaikanal was one of the few hill stations to be founded by Americans. The town owes its existence to a group of US missionaries who came here in the 1840s to bring education and Christianity to the tribal villages of the Palani Hills. Like other hill stations, Kodai has its share of historic churches, colonial villas and esteemed academies, but the main attraction is the chance to gaze out over the Tamil Nadu plains through the hazy morning light. The hills rise dramatically from the surrounding countryside, and dozens of walking trails offer a calm escape from the heat and crowds of the plains. The lake in the center of town (where kids can splash about in jolly boats and take pony rides along the lakeshore) is the first stop for Indian tourists, but foreign visitors make for the viewpoints and forest trails. Coaker Walk, with its observatory and telescope, is probably the most famous viewpoint, but the views are better from the rocky outcrop known as Pillar Rock. Should you tire of Kodai's charms, the nearby Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary boasts wild elephants, exotic birds and rare ibex.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Referred to as the "Princess of Hill Stations" Kodaikanal is a city in the hills in the southwestern state of Tamil Nadu.
  • Language: Tamil, English
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to June is peak season, but the hills are at their most verdant after the monsoon in September.