Kodai, as it is otherwise known is 7500 feet above sea level, and is about 520kms away from Chennai. On our second day of stay at Kodaikanal, the hotel had organised an local sight seeing
tour for us. The tour was chartered for an entire day, with a short break for lunch at the hotel. Following this, we would then proceed on our back to Chennai.
These were the list of places we were supposed to cover:
Coaker's Walk, Green Valley View, GOlf Course, Pillar Rocks, Devil's Kitchen (Guna Caves, Pine Forest, Moier Point, Uppler Lake view, Bhadra Kaliaaman temple, Kurunji Andavar Temple, Chettiar park, Silver Cascade, Bryant Park, Kodai Lake and the Natural Science Museum.
Since the tour fell on a Sunday, a visit to the Museum was out of question since it was closed on Sundays. We had to skip the GOlf COurse, the Kai temple and Bryant Park for want of time. Since this was not my first visit to Kodai, and I had on earlier visits covered the important Kodai spots, I was not too disappointed. I had not yet fully recovered from the Forest Tour from the
Most of the places were covered in fog and we could not afford the long wait for the fog to clear up. But the pleasant weather dnd the enjoyable company overshadowed any disappointment any of us would have felt.
On place not listed in the itenarary was the Shanthi valley View, which the tour guide
surprisingly took us too. From the valley, you can see the village of Vellagavi, where there is no electricity and the people there are illeterate. The village thrives on the home-made chocolate industry, working on the cocoa plantations given by the government.
Further, the village cannot sell its chocolate outside and can only trade with the government authorized bodies. Pretty neat, I thought.
The Pine Forest is breathtaking, with its endless rows of rusty brown pine trees. Ahead of the pines, the trees are inhabitited by a bunch of monkeys. Throughtout my stay, I saw monkeys runnig around everywhere, with carrots stuffed in thier mouth. Apparently, fresh carrots are found in abundance and that explained that orange blotch on a red-faced apes. Beneath the Pine forests, are Forest Reserves, obviously government protected and is not open to the public.
One of my favourite spots in Kodai, is the Kodai Lake, situated in the central part of the town. During my college days, when I visited this hill-station with my friends, we hired cycles and went cycling around the lake. In between, we stopped to purchase the famous home-made chocolates, eucalyptus oil, and spices like cardamom and cloves that are believed to be fresh and are produced at the hill-station. These days, one cannot be sure, so tourists, be warned!
This time, instead of cycling, we decided to walk around the lake and enjoy the moment, while basking in the sunshine. However, all that changed when Prabhakaran, a boatman, started calling out to me, coaxing me into taking a ride in the boat. After much thot and bargaining, we took the ride. The boatman was both educated and articulate.
For a man covered in filthy clothes, it was quite a story. It seemed that he used to own a library and that fell into bad times due to some political wrangle. TO support himself, he started taking tourists' out on boat rides on the lake. It's a tough life and an unpredictable one at that. It was a
fantstic ride and I loved every moment of it. At the end of the journey, I promised
Prabhakaran, that I would return and take some rowing lessons from him!
I was exhausted, but happy. I was ready to pack-up, head home and share this awesome
journey with my friends!