Weekend Getaway to Palani Hills-Kodaikanal

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      Weekend Getaway to Palani Hills-Kodaikanal                         
Bangalore, the IT hub of India has become the shelter for several thousands of engineers, motherland for entrepreneurs and an inspirational city for the aspiring artists. Due to the increasing demand of extra-ordinary and responsive services, the working population are becoming proactive and even extend their business hours to meet high expectations of the clients. By the end of the day, they desire to spend some quality time with their friends or families too. During weekdays, they hardly find any energy to be with their family. They slowly couch themselves to bed. On the other hand, on weekends either they have household duties to finish or tired of driving to the malls.  In addition to this, currently Bangalore represents the topmost city for experiencing the highest temperature of approx. 39 degree Celsius. Personally, dwelling in the same above scenarios I finally decided to escape to the nature.  This tour one can enjoy with friends, family as well as one’s beloved. And believe me, this proved a perfect weekend gateway for me. To make this tour easier for you, I am going to provide you some general information and a short itinerary. I am sure you are going to love this!
General Information:
Point of Departure: Bangalore, Karnataka.
Destination:  Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.
Date of Journey: 08Apr2016
Time Taken:  9 hours (approx.) by road.
Temperature: 23 degree Celsius. (At present)
Duration: 1 Night, 2 Days.
About the place:
Kodaikanal is one of the best hill stations in South India. Surrounded by lush green vegetation, the place looks serene and heavenly. It sits on the upper Palani Hills and is also referred as “Princess of Hill Stations”. Why is it called so? To reveal the secret of its distinctive beauty one has to explore the place and smell its freshness.
Kodaikanal offers a scenic beauty to the nature lovers, Wildlife for the aspiring photographers and Trekking tracks for the adventurous. It also offers chocolates and eucalyptus oil to the excited tourists.
The Journey:
I started my journey from Bangalore on 08Apr2016, a Friday night, 10:45 P.M. by bus. I chose SAM Tourists, you can prefer any travels as per your convenience. The overnight journey was quite relaxing after the hectic day in office.  After a journey of almost nine continuous hours except where the vehicle halted for 10 mins for a service stop, I finally reached my destination without any difficulty. I reached Kodaikanal by 6.30 in the morning. The surrounding was pleasant and cool. It was fresh as if the city had a shower few hours back. I was picked by a cab which the resort people managed for me. I didn’t miss the chance of pulling down my window just to feel the freshness of the air. The wind was cold, refreshing and unpolluted. After 5 minutes of drive, I reached my hotel where I was going to stay for another 2 days as an honoured guest.
Place to Stay: I had reserved my stay in “The Villa Retreat” http://www.villaretreat.com/.  The best place I could ever get. The Villa Retreat is not only a place to accommodate but a perfect property to get the essence of Kodaikanal. The advantage of being in Villa Retreat is to have most of the viewpoints as neighbours which are just a walk away.  The place is away from the hustles and bustles of the city, traffic jams, crowd, and a perfect place to pamper oneself. I was lucky enough to soothe my eyes with the splendid view of the lush green velvety “Palani Hills” from my broad window.
The sight of a reading room right next to the reception delighted me from within. I found various handmade products displayed for sale too. As I am fond of scented candles, I picked up few from the displayed ones.
                                                             Villa retreat
It was 8 o’ clock by my watch and my stomach was roaring out of hunger. The dining area was just behind the entrance. I quickly made a move in the midst of the beautifully carved trees and creepers. But once I reached the point, I remained awestruck. It was a small lawn with different flowers viz, roses, tulips, marigold and many more. My eyes focussed onto a play card where it was clearly written with black ink “Plants for Sale” .For few seconds, I felt to laze around on the white wooden benches with painted metallic hands. I could felt the clouds moving and had the opportunity of gazing small adorable birds.
                                                            The Lawn
I was in dilemma over the breakfast table for choosing the platter which I really wanted to have. The menu was reflecting both Indian and Continental.  I had Masala Dosa with a fresh Water-melon juice. One can also opt for Poori-sabji, sandwiches and even Omelettes too.
Rooms and Tariff:The rooms are big enough to accommodate and are very clean. They have different rooms having varied tariffs.
To know more about Rooms and Tariffs, please follow the link: http://www.villaretreat.com/rooms.php
Day1: Once I was successful in satisfying my stomach, my mind geared up within a couple of minutes. I had my whole day to explore the place. My plan was to start my trip by local sightseeing which I felt a good way to know the city better. My cab was booked by the hotel in charge; however the places can also be reached through walking, if anyone likes to walk few miles. One can ask the hotel management to book a cab for the sightseeing. The cost would come around 800bucks for the whole sightseeing which covers almost 15 places. However, I decided to move by my own pace and chose only those that excited me.
  •   Coaker’s Walk: It is next to the gate of “The Villa Retreat. Timings for entry: 7A.M- 7P.M. It is a long walk of almost a kilometre or two.  One can walk by admiring the beauty of nature below. It has an entry fee of Rs.10. The walk is surrounded by various vendors who won’t fail to drag your attention. The vendors were selling carrots, colourful showpieces, sugar candy, puffed rice mixture, ice cream and clothing which is a means to their livelihood. There is a telescope house too by which you can have a panoramic view of the city. Entry fee: Rs. 5.
                         Coaker’s walk- entrance
                              The walk in Coaker’s walk
  • Bryant Park: The Bryant Park is just opposite to the entrance of the Villa Retreat. The Park charges are minimal, kids: Rs.10 and Adults: 20. The park has exquisite Dahlias, roses, cactuses making the surrounding colourful and magnificent. People of all the ages can be seen spending time with their dear ones. I also got mesmerised by the scenic beauty of the Bryant Park.
                                     Bryant Park
  •  Lake:Once I move out of the Byrant Park, I entered into a vast region all surrounded by an array of shops. One can taste Ginger Tea, Capsicum Pakodas, Corn, Raw Mangoes and chocolates. One can shop for apparels also. Don’t forget to visit the Tibetan corner which one can identify by checking the colourful prayer flags displayed high in the air. The area has a vast Lake in its centre which is Kodai Lake.  I desired to roam the lake in an eco-friendly way and hence hired a bicycle. I rode almost 7 kms.  And truly speaking I lived my childhood days once again. If you are not a person who enjoys the bicycle then don’t worry you can enjoy a ride on horses back.
                                    Horse Riding
                                     Bicycle ride
                       I got a bicycle too
  • Jain Temple: It is a small temple built in white marbles. It is the only Jain Temple in Kodaikanal.  It is situated in Presentation Convent Road, a low crowded place where one can sit and spent some quality time. Sri Vardhamana Mahavira is the main deity and most of the Jain festivals are celebrated here.
                                    Jain Temple
 
  • Chettair Park: As the spring season arrives, the vibrant flowers bloom and spread their fragrance in the air. This season, Chettair park is a must visit to soothe your eyes with the beauty of nature.
                                             The purple beauty
  • Kurinji Andavar Temple: This temple is dedicated to lord Muruga. The temple gives you a splendid view of the Palani hills on one side and city on the other side. The temple is flocked by the tourists every year in the month of May as it is a venue for the summer festival and people seek the blessings of Lord Murugan.
                                            Kurinji Andavar Temple
     Food Availability:  In Kodaikanal, people prefer to eat vegetarian dishes. For Vegetarian dishes, I found restaurant Astoria https://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g303890-d1157151-Reviews-Astoria_Hotel-Kodaikanal_Tamil_Nadu.html. The place is decent and offers wide varieties of vegetarian dishes.  The South Indian meals are a hit here.
If you follow Non-Veg and would like to have some flesh then choose Hilltop Inn https://www.tripadvisor.in/Restaurant_Review-g303890-d1808662-Reviews-Hilltop_Inn-Kodaikanal_Tamil_Nadu.html  I like Mutton Biryani here which had the aroma of natural ghee served in banana leaf. The uniqueness of hotel Hilltop Inn is that all the employees are women; cleaning, washing and billing all will be done by trained women employees. This made me feel good about this place.
                                      My Mutton Biryani..Yummy!!
                                          Hill Top restaurant
Kodaikanal doesn’t have restaurants much other than in the city. One will get small dhabas or small stalls which will offer you snack such as Tea, Maggie or Bhajjis. Hence, it will be ideal if you pack your lunch or have it in the city before you start your journey.
Day 2: The moment I woke up, I could see rain pelting down. It was cold and I felt sluggish to get out from my cozy blanket. However, the spontaneous “Me” changed my mind and I leaped off my bed. Few minutes later, the bright sun shown up smiling and this boosted me for the entire day. I decided to go for the nature tour. Kodaikanal is a great way to retreat to nature and by any means I can’t miss the golden opportunity.
  •   Pine Forest:  The Pine Forest was one of the most dramatic places I had ever been. I wished to built a house in midst of the pine canopy. The pine fruits were all spread over the moors. After few meters of walking, I saw a small flowing water body known as “Neptune Pool”.  The water was as clear as crystal and was sparkling bright under the blazing sun.
                   Amidst the pine forest.
                                                   In the pine forest
  • Poombarai Village View: After the Pine Forest, I was being driven towards the Poombarai Village. Before proceeding towards the village, my cab driver stopped and showed me the village view from the highway. Wow! What a view! Numerous small houses were seen spread within a limited area and a road passing by with local buses loaded with various passengers.I finally reached the village hoping to have a glimpse of the deity for which most of the tourists and local people are eager about.  The temple is known as lord Kuzhanthai velappar temple. The inner space of the temple is a very small area where hardly 10 people can fit. The priest present there was attending the crowd and the brown lips of him were continuously chanting hymns.  He was passing holy water to the devotees. The water is so precious for the locals there that they carry it in their own urn.
                                         View of Poombarai Village
 Spotted a lady selling flowers outside the temple premises.
                                          Kuzhanthai velappar temple
                                                                Man selling Garlic

While enrouting, I found some pilgrims walking on bare foot with milk filled urn over their head. My cab driver informed me that they came all the way from Kodaikanal city to have a glimpse of the Divine. The unique way of devotion put me into a deep thought. The bare feet must have got burnt by the scorching sun, I thought.

  •    Mannavanur Sheep StationThis can be another place of interest. Stop by for a couple of minutes before you drive to the Mannavanur Lake.  The station works under the famous organisation of Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Delhi and offers diverse range of animals like sheep and rabbit. They are bred in the station for their wool and meat supply.
  •       Mannavanur Lake: After a drive of another 10 minutes, I checked in as soon as I bought the tickets at the entrance. I was mesmerized as I was thrown into a vast area of fertile land which was covered by patch of green grasslands. There were cows grazing in the field and finally I ended up stepping onto Mannavanur Lake. The lake was calm and peaceful. I felt like jumping into the water however controlled my excitement. My joy knew no bounds when I sat on a coracle for a ride. The person rowed the boat very smooth initially however he thrilled me by rowing the boat as a merry-go round.  The water sprinkled over me and the air was beating on my cheeks. It was a great fun!

I came back to my resort, packed my stuffs and got ready to catch the bus. Finally, I boarded the bus and started by 7:00 P.M. for Bangalore. I was feeling revitalized. Taking a break from the monotonous life provides you inner peace, happiness and in turn more productive to your business. After the trip to Kodai, nothing is more applicable to me than this -“Travelling– it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”.
Thank you for visiting the blog

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