Travel Magazine

Five ‘not So Touristy’ Things to Do in While in GReat Trails, Kodaikanal

By Rashmi Gopal Rao

Also known as the “Gift of the Forest”, Kodaikanal is situated on a plateau between the Parappar and Gundar Valleys.  Blessed with rich flora, Kodaikanal is bestowed with meadows and grasslands in abundance along with Eucalyptus trees and shola forests in the valleys.  With the lake being central to the hill stations’ attractions, Kodai has some stunningly beautiful view points, ubiquitous waterfalls and some rejuvenating walking trails.

During my recent visit to Kodaikanal with GReat Trails, I had the opportunity to see and do some off beat things in this lovely hill station.  The staff were kind enough to take us to some relatively less visited places and also showed us some “hidden gems”.  Here is a quick look at the activities:

GRT special hiking:  

An early morning trek in the hills replete with the sights and sounds of nature is all you need to rejuvenate on a holiday.  And this was exactly the purpose of the 3 kilometer trek we undertook after our  first night at GReat Trails.  Guided by activity manager, Bala, we climbed up to some picturesque views admiring the unique flora on the way.

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The Indian Coral tree
The Indian Coral tree

We were finally treated to an utterly scenic view of the Elephant valley and could also see the plains leading upto the famous Palani temple.  We were given to understand that the Elephant valley is home to about 80 elephants.

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View of the lush green Elephant valley

Some random captures from our trek below:

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A horse on the way
Village folk trudging to work
Village folk trudging to work

A visit to GRT’s strawberry farm:

After a refreshing and much needed sumptuous breakfast after the trek we visited the strawberry farm maintained by GRT.  While it was not the season of the fruit, the visit nevertheless was an insightful one and gave us a glimpse of all the hard work that goes into agriculture and farming.

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STRAWBEERY

Located close to the elephant valley, the area is conducive to the cultivation of fruits and vegetables.  The farm also had beans and the sight of almost 100 kg of fresh beans being harvested spoke volumes of the efforts it takes to grow fresh produce.

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It was surprising to note that the area has no power and workers operate from early morning to about 6 pm when lights starts fading away.  An apt lesson in socio-economic development and sustainability indeed.

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Vellappar temple, Poombarai

Located about 18 km from Kodaikanal and in the heart of the Palani halls in the town of Poombarai.  The town is famous for the Vellappar temple that dates back to a mind boggling 3000 years!  The temple is dedicated to Lord Subramanya or Lord Murugan and is considered to be extremely sacred.

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The idol is believed to be built by his holiness Bhogar who incidentally built the idol in Palani also. The same is made up made of nine alloys or ‘Nava Pashanam‘. The annual Ther Thiruvizha (car festival) for Lord Murugan is a much awaited event in Poombarai.

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Apart from the temple, the town is famous for its production of garlic which is locally known as “Poondu“.

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Mannavanur Eco tourism site:

This site about 30 km from Kodaikanal is a unique initiative by the Government to promote the essence of nature and its preservation apart from just sightseeing for tourists.  While in Mannavanur, there is plenty to see and do including viewing the rabbit and sheep breeding centers run by the Central Sheep and Wool Research Station as well as horse riding for children.

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You can visit the pristine lake set in the lap of nature enjoying some scenic views or even take a coracle ride into the interiors.

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We enjoyed a thoroughly delectable lunch that was thoughtfully organized by the GRT staff by the lake side.

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Apart soaking in the beauty of nature, you can also interact with the locals, sample some native produce like jackfruit, fresh carrots and enjoy a healthy lunch in one of the “Ecohuts”.

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Berijam Lake:

A truly spectacular and breathtakingly wonderful sight is the Berijam lake set amidst the Kodaikanal wildlife sanctuary.  A serene water body that is tranquil, the Berijam lake is surrounded by a striking variety of flora.

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In fact, from the lake is visible at least five different kinds of vegetation and ecosystems that is truly the USP of this place.

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The various facets and colors of Berijam lake

Entry in terms of the number of vehicles per day is restricted into this area and prior permission is required from the Forest department.  The staff at GReat Trails help with organizing this, in case one would like to visit.  A spot not to be missed, the drive through the forest is not only enchanting but also a haven to spot some wildlife including the wild bison and black monkeys.

Vignettes from the forest
Vignettes from the forest

Apart from this, GReat Trails does help to organize and conduct various other tours and treks including the Kodai nature tour, Wild Kodai tour, Kodai Heritage tour and even a Night safari.  So if you are an adventure junkie, Great Trails is the place to stay.  For more details and booking, visit their website here.  You can even check out and like their FB page here.

Disclaimer: This post was made possible by GRT group of hotels and Firebrand labs.  All views and opinions, as always, are solely mine.


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