Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bangalore to Kodaikanal by Road

It has been a dream holiday. Just back from a road trip to Kodai. And in spite of burning a big hole in my pocket by staying for 5 days and 4 nights at the Carlton, I would love to repeat this holiday in about 3 years time. Why? Read on.

The Route

A search on Internet reveals that there are multiple routes from Bangalore to Kodai. A route that is highly recommended is

Bangalore - NH7 - Toppur - at which point you get off NH7 and take Mettur - Bhavani - Perundurai - Kangayam - Dharmapuram - Palani - Kodiakanal

Personally I prefer the National Highways. So I took the following (slightly longer, but faster) route:

Bangalore - all the way on NH7 to Dindigul Bypass - Vattalkundu - Kodaikanal

NH7 is under construction but it is not like that the entire stretch is dug up or something like that. Throughout the trip there is at least one lane that is operational. So the speeds drop a little but you should still be able to manage about 70 kmph on an average.

CAUTION: You will know when you will need to take diversions to the other lane but you will never know when the traffic from the other side gets diverted to your lane. So, try not to ride on the faster lane. I would advise that you stick to the left.

I would like to think that the NH7 will be fully operational in about 2 years time. I would therefore love to drive down again in 3 years time.

Yeah! I just love to drive my Scorpio over loooong distances.

We covered the entire stretch of the 455km in approximately 10 hours. This included one break for a heavy breakfast and an hour's stop at a field, where the farmer climbed up the tree to get us Tender Coconut Water - no straws.
tender coconut - straight from the tree

Drinking Tender Coconut - no straws
We managed our return trip in 9 hours, with one stop for lunch.

(I drive slow with kids in the car - never exceeding 100 kmph. Other cars were zipping past me. So it is possible to make the distance in shorter time, say 7-8 hours. The road is that good.)

We took breakfast (onwards) and lunch (return) at Ghar. This chain of eatery belongs to Adyar Anand Bhavan (Who inspired them to shorten the name to the moronic A2B, I say?) Very neat and clean. The toilets were clean and so were the wash basins. There is one 'Ghar' just after Hosur and one after Krishnagiri (as you go from Bangalore to Kodai). Very convenient.

The 'Spicy Spoon' at Sulagiri (where we had breakfast on my last trip to Mahabalipuram) was not prepared to receive visitors at early hours. SO I missed out on their Ghee Roasts.

The Stay

The Carlton

We stayed at The Carlton. Yes it is expensive. But if you are willing to splurge here's what you get.

(i) A view to the Kodai lake. So you open you eyes and you are instantly transported to heaven.
(ii) Complimentary breakfast and dinner, every day. The spread is sumptuous and you will not need to have lunch.
(iii) A half-day trip to the tourist spots.
(iv) A complementary shikara ride. (If you are staying for a longer time and you bargain you will get another).
(v) The hotel has its own Boat House. No need to stand in long queues waiting your turn.
(vi) And all the other features that a five star hotel is expected to have (Billiards, Bar, Games room, Library ... stop ... this is not an advertisement for The Carlton.)

Recommendation: Ask for room no. 422. It has a huge balcony (none of the other rooms have this) apart from a sit out. So you get two different views to the lake. The room is strategically located and nearest to the lake (as measured by crows). I would prefer this room to the cottages. This room also had a bathtub. The adjoining room (#421) did not.

The stay was extremely comfortable and that is an understatement.

The Routine

Get up at 6 a.m.
Go for a walk around the lake - at a moderately brisk pace, it should take you about 45 minutes
Have breakfast.
Go visit the tourist spots (On the first day, take the conducted tour. Revisit the places you like on your own) - I loved the Pine Forest. The Suicide Point is breathtaking. Croaker's Walk is hyped.

Pine Forest

Have another round around the lake in the evening at a more gentle pace. The milieu completely changes in the evening.
On some days go horse rising. (The rates are fixed by the authorities, so the pain of haggling is eliminated).
Go to the main market, adjacent to the bus stand.
Have dinner.
Enjoy the rest of the evening - late into the night - on the lawns looking out at the now dark lake (a few flood lights glitter - this adds to the charm.)

The Surprise

What is a vacation without a surprise pack. We had two.

Just next to the Carlton, there is the Kodai International School (KIS). My wife teaches. So obviously she would love to see the school from inside. One evening as we were returning from the main market, we met a couple who became very friendly with us. Turned out that they teach at KIS. They invited us to visit KIS the following day. It was a delight.

Second, one morning when we woke up we saw a bunch of Tibetans / Tibetan looking people at the hotel lawns. There was also a film crew. We were told that this is some sort of Tribal Shooting. By evening it was clear that Surya (non-Tamil cine-lovers would know him as husband of Jyothika who is Nagma's sister; aaah, now it rings a bell), Nayantara, Saroja Devi, and a host of Tamil film stars were staying at the hotel and this was a proper commercial film shooting. I always wanted to see a film shoot. I expected the shoot to be very noisy. It wasn't. It was a nice experience to watch the entire film crew working out. But after a few takes and retakes, it becomes quite boring.

Film Shooting

Do not miss these

Do not miss out on ...

Lotus in Kodai Lake

... the beautiful birds that frequent the lake - the best time to see them is in the morning
... the wild flowers that cling to the rocks on the mountain
... the lotus in the lake
... Danish Display - a curio shop in the main market; they have some amazing stuffs
... Chilli Bhajjis, Home Made Chocolates, Masala Puri and Masala Tea sold on the track round the lake

To summarize, we had a ball.

having a ball

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ARJuna said...

Really Sir, you must travel more often, you write great Travelogs!!!
Thank you for all the info, will surely visit kodaikanal atleast once in my lifetime, I know this sounds vague and stupid but I am at a stage in my life where the future is mostly unpredictable, planning anything is just an addition to the equation of uncertainty.

Unknown said...

Hi, I enjoyed your comments about the Kodai trip. It is indeed a breathtaking place. I simply love the hill station.

By the way you had mentioned that you met a couple from KIS.

Just wondering if you can share their contact email / tel nos (with their permission)as I plan to relocate to Kodai soon and would like to seek admission for my children at KIS.

I am currently domiciled in the Middle East.

You can email me at

Thanks and warm regards,


Unknown said...

Hii...Nice One. I liked it very much and felt beneficial for all..I am panning to visit br hills resort and also bandipur resorts this weekend with my family. because their facilites,sevices offered at low cost,Wildlife Safari really really awesome..

Dimpy Roy said...

Nice trip. Thanks for sharing your trip experience. The various wonderful places to visit in Kodaikanal have lured generations of tourists who flock to soak in the delight of these Kodaikanal places to visit. Some of the must visit places in Kodaikanal are Bryant Park, Kodai Lake, and Berijam Lake. Similarly, other spots such as Pillar Rocks, Coakers Walk, and Guna Caves also make for some great sightseeing in Kodaikanal. These are just a handful of the enticing attractions in Kodaikanal. Check out all best places to visit in Kodaikanal.

Anonymous said...

here is one beatiful video of kodaikanal

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