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Old 31st January 2021, 17:42   #1
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Default Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Driving to Kodaikanal in my own car has always been into my bucket list. Though we've tried making our plans earlier too of visiting Kodaikanal when we were in Chennai but, some reason or the other all the plans were cancelled. Last year, we did plan to visit the Queen of hills but then the whole world was brought upside down by Covid-19. Somehow, with great 2020 approaching it's end, I decided that we should try to visit Kodaikanal during the Christmas holidays. And this time we got lucky enough to address this beauty,
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-kodaikanal_panaroma.jpg

And just like always our ride was going to be our beloved Shadowfax,
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-shadowfax_1.jpg

Earlier we had planned to do a 3 days (2 nights) trip only but later on we decided to stretch it for one more day. And I'm glad that we took that decision as we both were visiting for the first time and after seeing the rush over there, especially during the Christmas holidays it was good to have one more day. So, we had no idea of places in and around Kodaikanal plus I did not do much research as we wanted to enjoy and relax for these 4 days, driving in hills, breathe some fresh air and have some good food with scenic view if possible. And just like always on our long road-trips, I had kept below items as well,
  • Thorough check-up of my car and since it completed it's one year service 3-4 days prior, this was all sorted.
  • I had a check-list from my last Gokarna travel which included items like extra coolant(about 1 litre), tyre inflator, tyre-puncture kit, pressure measuring gauge, couple of extra fuses, wiper-washer tank at full, a torchlight.
  • Also some dry food like - chips, dry-fruits, couple of cans of Red Bull etc. Since we were visiting the hills this time so we had in mind to buy fresh-fruits from there and have a taste at those

Day 1 :
Our plan was to start early as usual, around 5 AM from Bengaluru and try to reach Kodaikanal by 4 or 5 PM after couple of rest and food stops. Just like every other time this past year, we had our breakfast and lunch packed a night before. Though we couldn't find a place with scenic view but a restroom stop at a highway petrol pump led us to unpack our breakfast and we took a short 10-15 minutes break. We soon crossed Salem and then merged onto the awesome Kanyakumari highway. I've always found this route one of the best in our country and I was driving on it this time almost after 3 years, and what a pleasant experience it was.

Somewhere on the Kanyakumari highway:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-kodaikanal_highway_1.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day_1ontheway.jpg

While climbing up the Kodai hills:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day1_on_the_way.jpg

We managed to reach Kodaikanal by 3 PM and our first stop there was at Silver Cascade waterfall. To my surprise, it was a beautiful waterfall and the best part it was right on the way to the main city. We stopped there for a while, had our lunch which we had packed with us and then set-out for our homestay.

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-silver-cascade.jpg

And finally we reached our homestay and it was quite hard to locate though. Also, the road was in pretty bad shape but, thanks to Shadowfax we scaled it without much difficulty. We didn't plan much to roam out for the day but the view for our place was a delight. I think the last time I saw so much of clouds was in Nandi Hills, near Bangalore. The stay was pretty comfortable and we enjoyed the homemade food very much.

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day1_balcony_view.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-homestay-day-1.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-homestay_day_1.jpg

Day 2 :
After enquiring from our homestay owner, we planned to visit Mannavanur lake the next day. Since, we didn't plan or enquire much about the places to see in Kodaikanal this time we thought it was better to ask any local. Also, we wanted to enjoy our staycation as much as we can so we thought of avoiding any crowded places and better see the ones which aren't much visited. So, after having our breakfast we set-out for Mannavanur lake around 9:30 AM and as soon as we merged from our homestay road to the main Kodaikanal road we were shell-shocked to see huge traffic jam. We then came to know that Kodaikanal every year is a major visit by people of nearby states during Christmas Holidays. We knew, it was going to be a long day with bumper-to-bumper traffic ahead of us. As soon as we kept crawling, the traffic intensity kept on increasing and once we crossed Kodaikanal lake, we were stuck in the jam again for almost 1 hour and we even saw many taxis and older cars giving up on the way. I've had it and I didn't want my car to go through a burn-out at about 500 Kms from my home. We decided to take a u-turn and visit Kodaikanal lake instead. Also, that day was Saturday and it also added to the huge amount of traffic and crowd gathering in huge number. Later that day, we came to know from our friend that almost 10,000 cars of outside registration entered Kodaikanal that very same day . Never mind, we turned back and reached Kodaikanal lake and luckily we found a good parking spot as well. If you'll observe closely, even though it's a man-made lake but, it's very beautiful. Especially the scenery around it is very peaceful. We didn't want to do boating in the lake as there was a huge line for that. Instead, we decided to walk around and the lake covering about 2 KMs in total. And that helped us even in taking more pictures without much crowd.

Views from our balcony in morning,
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day_2_morning.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day2_morning-sky.jpg

Few clicks of the beautiful Kodaikanal Lake,
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day_2_kodai_lake_1.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day_2_kodai_lake_2.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day_2_kodai_lake_3.jpg

So, we were looking for a place to eat once we finished our around the lake walkathon and it didn't come as a surprise that almost every restaurant in Kodaikanal was either full or out of car parking. We gave up as it was already 3:30 and we decided to head back to our home-stay and enjoy the view from the balcony instead. And again, I must say that it turned out to be a good decision and the view I bet was way better than few of the tourist places in Kodaikanal.

Evening again, clouds were back:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-day2_evening_homestay.jpg

Day 3:
So, this day since it was a Sunday and we were hoping that most of the people would have left maybe after a long weekend. We decided to visit Mannavanur lake early in the morning itself. We started around 7:30 and as we expected, there wasn't much traffic. So far the roads have been good and only bad patches which we have encountered was in the area where our homestay was. But drive to Mannavanur lake, I must say was very scenic and I really enjoyed it. When you are visiting Mannavannur lake, right after we cross forest check-post there is a sharp right turn which takes you down-the-hill towards the lake and Rabbit farms. But we missed that turn unfortunately due to our over-confidence on Google Maps. And instead we reached Pillar rocks thinking that this is the right way forward to the lake as well. But luckily we reached Pillar rocks well before it would have gotten crowded that day and I was awestruck after watching the beauty of those mammoth like structures from the view point,

Shadowfax on the way:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-shadowfax-day-3.jpg

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-pillar-rocks_1min.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-pillar_rocks_2.jpg

After spending about 15 mins there, I enquired about the way to Mannavanur lake and somebody suggested me to continue moving ahead as that was the only way. By that time we hadn't realized that we've missed our turn long back and to our surprise we reached Kodaikanal city again after the full whole circle . I didn't realise this until my wife pointed out the place where I stopped last time to check the tyres. Nevermind, we went back the same road, took the right turn and then after completing almost 40 KMs downhill, we reached the lake. The roads were okay and there were few bad patches and there wasn't not much traffic also that day. Before coming here we were thinking that this was going to be one of those man-made lakes with lot of shops around it and someplace like other tourist destinations. But, we were completely wrong as the pictures will do more justice then me putting down words here,

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-lake_1.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-lake-2min.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-lake-3min.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-rabbit.jpg

I was patting myself by this time that our decision to stay in Kodaikanal for one extra day proved to be of total worth by coming here. This was a very beautiful place and the scenery around, I could never believe that this was in India . Close to lake, there is one sheep and rabbit farm which is the other main attraction. We decided to go straight up there since somebody had suggested the view from there would be much better as compared to the lake itself. By the time we reached there, it wasn't very much crowded since it was early as 11 AM in the morning. The fun part was, by paying 10 Rs. they were allowing visitors to hold cute little bunnies and click photographs with them. We spent almost 2 hours over there as the scenes all around were so beautiful and relaxing. Post that, since we were already hungry we started from the Rabbit farm. While coming, we had spotted one very cool cafe on the way and had decided to stop there for lunch on our return journey. This was "Passiflora Art Cafe" with an artistic vibe and soon as you enter, you'll be greeted by two cute labradors. We ordered tea and some food and I must say if you are in this area, this cafe should be on your must visit list. Not only because of food but also for the view from there.

Views from the cafe:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-art-cafe.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-view-cafe_1.jpg
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-view-cafe_2.jpg

So we reached Kodaikanal by 5:30 PM and on the way we purchased few Kodaikanal chocolates and couple of other items for family & friends. Again after reaching the homestay, we followed our daily routine from past 3 days, sitting in the balcony with some hot tea and enjoy the view.

Views from our homestay for one last time:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-homestay_view_with_clearsky.jpg

One can spot a beautiful waterfall also from here:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-waterfall_from_homestay.jpg

Night:
Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-homestay_at_night.jpg

Day 4:
We had planned to leave by 7:30 so that we can reach Bengaluru by 4 or 5 PM max. We decided to meet two of our friends(meeting after a long time) near Theni-Kodaikanal junction followed by some delicious Dosa and filter coffee for breakfast. We then headed straight to Bengaluru without making a major stop except restroom and tea breaks. We managed to be home by 5:30 due to the traffic we found near Electronic city but still we were on-time.

These 4 days as we had planned, were pretty relaxing, full of a lot more of driving, enjoying nature at it's best and some good food. This was my first experience with such steep and narrow hill driving(earlier being Wayanad, but that isn't very difficult) and we managed to get through with a trusted partner and it's power. There were couple of instances where we almost came through some good off-roading but Shadowfax is built to tackle such challenges and it has proved it's worth now and then. As it's the case with every traveller, who doesn't like to rest until the next destination - I'll be back with few more of my adventures, Ciao!

Below are the Google Maps links for the art cafe and homestay where we visited:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pa...7!4d77.4096278

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sy..._BIwD3oECBYQBQ

Last edited by pravarag : 22nd February 2021 at 11:52.
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Old 23rd February 2021, 04:10   #2
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Default re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 23rd February 2021, 18:52   #3
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Amazing travelougue pravarag! It just happens even I was in Kodaikanal in December, we might have passed each other :P

I was driving a rented Hyundai Aura Diesel. Getting this car was a courageous decision since I didn't have much driving experience except driving my cousins' GT TSI few times on cities and highways. Driving a manual, especially in ghats was kinda new to me, I was very careful while climbing up the Kodai ghats. During the 3 days we had the car with us, I got very comfortable with it since I was the only one driving it. We clocked considerable kms around the pillar rock circle because of us missing turns.

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-pxl_20201213_08081267001.jpeg

While coming back down on the Kodai Ghats, I picked up the speed a little since I understood the car better now. And man that descent on the Kodai ghats was quite an experience I'll never forget. When the twisties ended I was left feeling longing for more!
This feeling stuck with me and was something I brought back home. After some discussion in the family we finally decided to get a pre-owned car and I am proud to say we recently got ourselves a pre-owned Freestyle Ti-VCT in black
The Kodai ghats will always hold a special place in my heart. I'm now looking forward to driving my own car on these roads which helped me find my love for driving!
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Old 23rd February 2021, 21:34   #4
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by pravarag View Post
Driving to Kodaikanal in my own car has always been into my bucket list. Though we've tried making our plans earlier too of visiting Kodaikanal when we were in Chennai but, some reason or the other all the plans were cancelled. Last year, we did plan to visit the Queen of hills but then the whole world was brought upside down by Covid-19. Somehow, with great 2020 approaching it's end, I decided that we should try to visit Kodaikanal during the Christmas holidays. And this time we got lucky enough to address this beauty
You will never loose the love for the hills and the pleasure of driving to them. Kodaikanal is one such place and is very special and close to my heart. Since being in school I had frequented Kodaikanal with friends more than with my family. (I hail from Theni)

It is one of places that we frequent every other year ever since I got married. And the best part is my kids have started loving this place as well. They love the walk around the lake and going around the lake in the rental cycles while myself and my wife wait for them to return.

I feel very glad that you had a pleasant stay in Kodai after your trip recently to Gokharna. First the beaches, then the hills... What's next @pravarag?
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Old 23rd February 2021, 21:43   #5
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Kodai is a beautiful location especially in winter. We had an awesome Dec vacation here. Especially cycling along Kodai lake and having "chai" and "chili bajji" by 4PM which already felt late!

Nothing can come close to that feeling of bliss.
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Old 24th February 2021, 10:52   #6
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Had been to Kodaikanal in 2013 on a honeymoon trip, the pics shared here brings back all my memories. It is a beautiful place.
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Old 24th February 2021, 11:57   #7
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by cake View Post
I was driving a rented Hyundai Aura Diesel. Getting this car was a courageous decision since I didn't have much driving experience except driving my cousins' GT TSI few times on cities and highways. Driving a manual, especially in ghats was kinda new to me, I was very careful while climbing up the Kodai ghats. During the 3 days we had the car with us, I got very comfortable with it since I was the only one driving it. We clocked considerable kms around the pillar rock circle because of us missing turns.
That would have been some experience I would say and salute to your courage. I think Kodaikanal in all over southern India definitely has some challenging hill roads (though roads were in nice conditions). One lesson which I learnt this time was to always give pass to the cars behind you whenever possible, we need to respect that while on these type of roads. As they say, "we learn by doing" so good that we at-least have some experience now

Quote:
This feeling stuck with me and was something I brought back home. After some discussion in the family we finally decided to get a pre-owned car and I am proud to say we recently got ourselves a pre-owned Freestyle Ti-VCT in black
The Kodai ghats will always hold a special place in my heart. I'm now looking forward to driving my own car on these roads which helped me find my love for driving!
Wow, many congratulations sir and welcome to the club. Let's plan a meet-up sometime at someplace
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Old 24th February 2021, 12:02   #8
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

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Originally Posted by mailbalaji View Post
I feel very glad that you had a pleasant stay in Kodai after your trip recently to Gokharna. First the beaches, then the hills... What's next @pravarag?
Haha, definitely I've few trips planned in near future. The latest, I'm planning to do a day-trip to Halebidu and nearby places. Later, I'm planning to hit the beaches again, the place where everyone is visiting these days, i.e. Goa but planning to cover most of south Goa again this time. Let's see how everything goes and with number of Covid cases rising, I've learnt to not be so sure until last moment in past one year. But that's the life these days
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Old 24th February 2021, 12:07   #9
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Nice travelogue with clear pictures. Kodai is a wonderful town to chill out. Unfortunately, it is becoming crowded during weekends and holidays. The traffic inflow is huge and areas like 7 road junction are choked most of the time.

It is better to plan during weekdays during an offseason.

I suggest exploring this route also. BLR - Salem - Sankagiri - Perundurai - Exit NH 7 - Chennimalai - Kangeyam - Dharapuram - Palani - Kodai. This will be one of the shortest distance covering around 450 kms.
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Old 24th February 2021, 12:31   #10
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Beautiful travelogue. I always had that feeling that Kodaikanal is very far from Bangalore and never really planned it. Your travelogue has given me the motivation to visit this beautiful place. Kodaikanal is on my bucket list now. Cheers!

Last edited by ThatCarGuy : 24th February 2021 at 12:56.
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Old 24th February 2021, 12:45   #11
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

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Beautiful travelogue. I always had that feeling that Kodaikanal is very far from Bangalore and really never planned it.
Very true. But thanks to good 4-lane roads and an early Bangalore exit you can easily make it to Kodai in 8-10 hrs. Key is to start early and by 7AM be at Salem.
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Old 24th February 2021, 13:29   #12
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

I've been to Kodai at least 4-5 times but your pics do justice to this lovely place. Those shots of clouds are just heavenly. Your homestay has an awesome view. Hope you guys enjoyed Kodai as much as we did seeing your lovely travelogue and pics.
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Old 5th March 2021, 22:07   #13
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Default Re: Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving

Thanks for sharing this beautiful thread. It did bring back a lot of fond memories of our Kodai trip. Southern hills have their own charm especially in the monsoons.

Link to my TeamBhp thread.
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...uster-awd.html (Hyderabad - Kodaikanal in a Duster AWD)

Few pictures from the trip.

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-img_20181222_181124.jpg

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-img_20181223_070517.jpg

Trip to Kodaikanal | Zen of hill driving-img_20181223_171206.jpg

Keep travelling and sharing such wonderful threads.
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