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Introducing Kodaikanal (Kodai)

There are few more refreshing Tamil Nadu moments than boarding a bus in the heat-soaked plains and disembarking in the sharp pinch of a Kodaikanal night or morning. It’s not all cold though; during the day the weather is positively pleasant, more reminiscent of deep spring than early winter. This misty hill station, 120km northwest of Madurai in the Palni hills, is more relaxed and more intimate than its big sister Ooty (brochures call Kodai the ‘Princess of Hill Stations’, while Ooty is the Queen). The renowned Kodaikanal International School provides a bit of cosmopolitan influence, with students from around the globe.

Centred on a very pretty lake, Kodai rambles up and down hillsides with patches of shola forest, unique to the Western Ghats in South India, and evergreen broadleaf trees such as magnolia, mahogany, myrtle and rhododendron. Another plant speciality around here (in the grasslands) is the kurinji shrub, whose lilac-blue blossoms only appear every 12 years: next due date 2018.

Kodai is popular with honeymooners, who flock to the spectacular lookout points and waterfalls in and around town.