It’s vacation time, and we’re finally back from a much needed break… not that I’ve ever heard of any other kind of break! We often do short trips to hill-stations in the summer, just to escape the stifling Mumbai heat. And more often than not, we choose hill-stations down south. This is because (a) They’re easier to reach (a 3 hour drive from the nearest airport vs a 6-8 hour drive up north!) and (b) They’re cleaner and less crowded. This year we decided on a Kodaikanal vacation.
The holiday was a perfect mix of everything and we truly had a great time. We had enough time to laze around, spend time with each other and just be. And enough activity to keep us from getting bored. So here’s what we enjoyed the most.
Things You MUST Do On a Kodaikanal Vacation:
(1) Stop Over at Madurai:
We almost didn’t. The plan was to fly in to Madurai and drive straight through to Kodaikanal. Till Hubby suggested that since we’re going to Madurai we might as well stay a night there too. So at the last minute, we added 1 night in Madurai, and am I ever so glad we did!
We stayed at the Taj Gateway Hotel
And if we had done nothing else in Madurai, the stay would have been worth it just for this.
This Main Building was built in 1890 and the whole property is gorgeous.
The bedrooms are housed in these beautiful cottages.
And they have the perfect old English charm.
They are extremely comfortable, with all the modern amenities and none of the modern look.
The bamboo and cane finished furniture, with an aged patina on the paint and the olive green used in the furniture and furnishings adds to the old English feel.
I loved the choice of paintings above the bed and the different textures and patterns on the cushion covers. It was all understated and perfectly luxurious.
There was a small study-cum-dressing table opposite the bed.
And a large sitting area by the bay window, with a fabulous view of the gardens, and the city beyond.
Don’t miss the cane table… it’s always all the little details which add up to make a big difference.
In the evening step out for a leisurely walk and you’ll come across some beautiful corner like this…
And a peacock or two might join you in your stroll…
There are peacocks roaming about the entire property all the time. We went to feed peacocks in the evening, and one suddenly spread out it’s feathers and burst into dance.
I agree, that picture looks totally unreal. But I promise you it’s not! I took that pic myself. The experience though, WAS unreal. You must check out this video we got of the peacock dancing.
He continued to dance, while she continued to ignore him. And we finally left him dancing (though I could have watched forever!) because we didn’t want to miss the show at the
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal
The palace is beautiful, and I have a weakness for sound and light shows. So we had to go. It was totally worth it for the palace… though not for the show.
The palace looks absolutely stunning lit up, but the show itself is not too exciting. They narrate short, disjointed stories. It’s a little abrupt and doesn’t build up the excitement or interest.
We had a lovely dinner on the Moon Deck at the hotel that night. Even though it was really really hot in the day, the evening was cool. We had dinner in the gentle breeze with a view of the entire city of Madurai below us. Madurai was a perfect start to our Kodaikanal vacation!
A Visit to the Meenakshi Temple
Was planned for next morning. We went early in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds. The carvings all over are amazing, and I have always wondered how they use so many colours all together without making it look gaudy.
We had a guide along who gave us interesting bits of information. Like the fact that each of these pillars is carved from a single stone.
Once you’re done with Madurai, you can move on to the actual Kodaikanal vacation!
(2) Have Lunch at Club Mahindra:
Club Mahindra has 2 properties at Kodaikanal. It has a tie up with ‘Le-Poshe’, which is where we stayed. This is a large property with some 70 odd rooms.
They have simple, row house type structures with a paved pathway in front of them, which looks especially nice at night. We took a whole lot of evening and after-dinner walks on that pathway.
But the must-go-to is Club Mahindra’s own property at Coaker’s Walk.
It used to be the Mahindra family’s personal guest house which has now been converted into a mini-resort. It has just 11 rooms and is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been to.
The day we went was misty and we literally took a walk in the clouds there.
The flowers look almost like they’re growing wild, but are obviously being very well looked after.
In fact, we were told that the entire landscape here is looked after by a single garderner.
It’s a good thing we didn’t stay here, because the kids would have got bored with lack of company and activities. But if I had to take a Kodaikanal vacation with just hubby, this is where I would want to stay!
(3) Take A Walk Down Coaker’s Walk:
Coaker’s Walk is a kilometer long walk along the slope of a mountain with a stunning valley view.
We took a leisurely stroll, ate ice cream, shot at balloons with air rifles and took lots and lots of pictures.
(4) Go Boating in Kodaikanal Lake:
We got ourselves a pedal boat for 4 and had great fun pedaling around the lake. We tried to go under the branch of a tree along the edge and almost grounded ourselves. But we recovered, enjoyed the beautiful lake and got back in 1 piece!
While you are at the lake, there are lots of other things to do too. The life of the city is around the lake. There is loads of street shopping, of which I find local food the most exciting. Saw this mango sliced and decorated so beautifully at one of the street stalls. I simply loved the colours!
(5) Eat Homemade Chocolate:
And if you are shopping for food in Kodaikanal, homemade chocolate is a must! Available at every second shop on every street in Kodaikanal, we couldn’t resist it for too long. We packed a 250 gm box of fresh chocolate at the end of each day to carry back to our room with us. We would replenish our stock again the next day!
Though we tried a few shops, the yummiest chocolate by far was from Danish Display.
(6) Shop At Danish Display:
We loved this little shop in the market place, ‘opposite the SBI ATM at the bus stand’. It has lots of handicraft and something for everyone.
Source: Just Dial
Usually the kids hate shopping, but this shop had enough to hold their interest too. From handmade soap to brass statues, it had a little bit of everything. Amongst other things, the kids got themselves a slingshot while we got a beautiful carved panel and this vintage-looking telephone for our home.
(7) Go Horse Riding and Cycling Around the Lake:
This became a daily routine for us. Whatever else we did, my daughter had to have a horse ride every day, while my son had to cycle. An entire round around the lake is about 6 km and goes through the markets and the city too. Which is what the kids enjoyed most. My daughter has learnt a bit of horse riding, so she would canter through the city herself while the horse-owner followed her on his bicycle. While hubby and son loved the double cycle.
I tried a bit of both for a couple of days and then, thanks to a sore backside, stuck to shopping and photography during this routine.
(8) Walk Through Bryant’s Park:
This too, is very close to the lake. And a special tip for all, it’s the only place around there with a loo. So on the first day we went in just to use the loo! But it’s big, green and pretty and makes a lovely walk. Also, there is a short cut through it from the lake to Coaker’s Walk. So we ended up walking in the park quite a bit. It made for lots of pretty pics with tons of flowers.
Even this broken down gate looks pretty with the wild flowers around it!
(9) Have Coffee at The Carlton:
And when you’ve walked through the entire city and are tired and need a break, you must go to the Carlton for a cup of coffee.
And burgers, sandwiches and fries, all served on this beautiful lawn, overlooking the lake. They have a lovely restaurant too, which serves a proper meal, but we so wanted to sit on the lawn.
They’ve used lots of wood in the interiors here. The wooden floors, beams, wainscoting, all keep it warm and cozy and looking rich. I loved the carved trim at the edge of the wainscoting.
But most of all, I loved the gorgeous view of the lake.
The clouds, trees and mountains in almost perfect weather made for an absolutely perfect Kodaikanal vacation. The kids didn’t miss their iPads and we managed to keep off our phones for the most part. (I was the biggest culprit here, trying to make sure I post daily to my Instagram account… oh well, you’ve got to put in that little extra when you’re start something new!)
And when the kids are happy and exhausted and completely out on the way back, you know you’ve done well!
So that was our list of things to do on a Kodaikanal vacation. I’m sure we couldn’t have covered it all in 4 days, so add on with any we might have missed. We’ll aim at covering those when Hubby and me go on a honeymoon trip on our own…
Until next time,