Kodaikanal, meaning "The Gift of the Forest '' in Tamil is tantamount to the place. Comparing it to Hill stations in North India, it's relatively untouched and less crowded. Near Kodaikanal, is a small town named Vattakanal or well known as the 'Little Israel of India' because of its heavy Israeli tourist population. Along the eastern coast of the Western Ghats, this place has a lot to offer to explorers. Here’s a crux guide on How to explore Kodai in its true essence.
How to reach Kodaikanal:
The nearest airport is Madurai Airport and it will take you about 1.5hours to drive up to Kodai. The taxi should charge you between 2000-3000 Rs. There are buses also available from Madurai to Kodai as well.
(Taxi Number: 9942170604, Das)
Where to stay:
Kodai Heaven, with striking coloured walls and bright decor as decent rooms and open lounge areas with valley views to offer. It is situated within the main area of the town. There are aesthetic cafes within walking distance from the hotel and Kodaikanal Lake is 7Km far. The food served at the hotel was also good.
Where all to explore:
While there are a bunch of tourist places like Pillar Rocks, Pine Tree Forest, Dolphin Nose Viewpoint, Kodaikanal Lake, and Kodaikanal Solar Observatory Museum that the internet suggested to me. However having visited them all in one day as they are all very close to each other, I believe all the places are very extremely commercialised and won't suggest exploring them. Untouched interiors of Kodai villages are more scenic to explore.
Amongst the must-visit places off goggle, Guna Caves was worth visiting. You will have to climb a few flights of stairs to reach there but the view is scenic from the top. The huge roots of the pine trees are found everywhere outside the soil and promise a good scope for photography at this tourist spot.
This hippie cafe in Vattakanal, on the edge of the cliff, has great hummus and pita to offer. The vibe of the cafe is worth going to, there are quirky graffiti on the wall and you can play your own music. FYI, all cafes shut at 9 PM sharp in the town.
-Pastry Corner in Marattha complex:
This tiny shop on a corner in the bustling streets of Kodai has amazing pastries and coffee to offer. In order to get a pastry, you will have to go and stand in the line in the morning. By 12pm all of them are sold. They are famous for their ice creams and pastries.
Besides these places, a major tourist attraction is Magic Mushrooms. With suitable climatic conditions, Magic mushrooms grow in abundance in these hills. If you want to enjoy the magical mushrooms then the best time would be from September to November, during these months you will find big, fresh Magic Mushrooms. This recreational drug compounds Psilocybin and Psilocin as the main chemical, which can have effects such as Euphoria, altered thinking, and hallucinations too. Having said that, Shrooms are illegal in India and many mushrooms growing in the area are poisonous enough to be fatal. So getting access to the right mushroom is very important.