Kodaikanal, a hill station’s name that we all have heard all the time since we were kids. Taking a trip to Kodai in 2019, I expected to be heavily commercialized and not connect with nature. But, I am glad that I was wrong! This Kodaikanal budget guide will be the only guide you will need. It covers things to do, how to internal travel apart from cabs, where to stay and eat, etc.!
Kodaikanal literally translates to ‘The Gift of the Forest’ which I could clearly visible and was overwhelmed to see it.
The ‘Switzerland of the East’ and the ‘Princess of Hill Stations’, nestles at an altitude of 2133 meters, on the southern crest of the Palani hills in the Western Ghats. The road to Kodaikanal winds up through coffee plantations and thick forests giving a perfect introduction of this lovely hill.
This hill station which is on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala had a path of 40km to reach these states. Thankfully, the government of Kerala and Tamil Nadu agreed to close the road leading to saving a plethora of flora and fauna.
Languages spoken and the best time to visit Kodaikanal
The day temperature from June- Sept (monsoon) is 20°C, from Nov to Feb (winter) is 10°C, and 10-25°C from May to March (summers).
I travelled during early July and thankfully, did not face heavy showers to be locked down at one place. Monsoon is the reason why I’d suggest avoiding late June to August.
Tamil and Malayalam are predominantly spoken here. But I could easily manage with Hindi and English languages with the locals here.
How to reach Kodaikanal?
Air: The Madurai airport is located at 120 kilometers away from Kodai town.
Road: There is a direct bus from Bangalore to Kodaikanal which takes 6-8 hours and it costs in the range of INR 500 – 1200 one way depending on seater/sleeper bus option.
Train: There are no direct trains since Kodaikanal is a hill station. The nearest railway station is Kodai Railway Station from where you can take a cab.
Internal Travel for Kodaikanal Budget Guide
Since Kodaikanal is a hill station, the only option of internal travel is cabs, walking, and shared buses.
None of the blog posts I had read covered the option of shared bus travel and none of them was a Kodaikanal Budget Guide.
My options for internal travelling were:
- I could be a wayfarer but I was low on time
- I could have picked a cab for solo travel but did not want to spend ~INR 6,000 just for 2 days
- Then thankfully, that’s when I bumped into my third option of shared buses.
However, if you love slow travel:
- ponder over a lake for a few hours straight
- or you can hire a cycle/private cab for a full day . You will get a cycle on rent from Lake Kodaikanal.
- You can hire cycles from Lake Kodaikanal for as low as ~INR200 / day and cabs from the bus stop or the lake for ~INR 2000/day
Bus Tour’s rates, circuits, and spots:
I chose to travel with Cresent Tours and Travels’ shared minibus for four reasons –
- Lesser carbon footprints from my travel
- We get a guide
- They are approved by the Tamil Nadu government and
- The rates fit my Kodaikanal Budget Guide (cost-effective) perfectly!
A shared minibus of 10 people has comfortable seats. You can contact them on 04542244944, 244955, +91 9842174411, +91 9842288984, or 9842185973.
There are 3 circuits in which you can see entire Kodaikanal which are:
Cost for a share bus is INR 300 and a private cab is INR 2000.
Coaker’s Walk, Green Valley view, Golf Course, Pillar Rocks, Devils Kitchen, Pine Forest, Moier Point, Upper Lake View, Shopping, and drop at Kodai Lake
Cost for a share bus is INR 300 and a private cab is INR 1800.
La Saleth Church, 500 year old tree, Dolphin’s Nose, Mountain beauty, Pambar falls, Echo point, Lion cave, and drop at Kodai Lake
Cost for a share bus is INR 350 and a private cab is INR 2700.
Silent Valley view, Fire Tower, Berijam Lake View, Berijam Lake, Caps Fly Valley, Mathikettan Forest view, and drop at Kodai Lake
Doesn’t this option fit Kodaikanla’s Budget Guide perfectly? 😀
Read: 48 hours in Kochi
Things you can do with my Kodaikanal’s budget guide:
I chose ‘Wild Ways’ for Day 1 which took me to:
Berijam Lake View
The season added to the beauty of this space. The gorges, fog, and the trees- these 3 simple things made up a scenery that I will never forget!
To top this up, Berijam Lake glistened like a gad-damn delicious diamond!
Berijam Lake is a reservoir near Kodaikanal town and was artificially created in 1867, when Sir Vere Levigne, Collector of Madurai, donated part of his personal retirement funds for building the dam.
Subsequently, the dam and reservoir were enlarged and a pipeline was built to supply drinking water to the Periyakulam Municipality by 1912.
In addition, the latest news are about HUL’s mercury break out in the lake and other parts of Kodaikanal since 2010. Damaging and killing A LOT OF flora and fauna and crippling a lot of their workers.
Followed by shamelessly denying the outbreak of mercury in our beautiful lands! The workers are STILL battling this case for compensation at least in the Court of Law!
Silent Valley View
The 90° slope give a 3000 meters view from the edge! The views go cascading way further down where the tribal people reside.
They barter for groceries with natural resources like clove, eucalyptus, etc. to help the urban. These locals make oils out of these and sell in shopping areas.
Caps Fly Valley
If you throw anything in this valley, it is said to return to you. Obviously, only lightweight objects like caps, leaves, etc. Unfortunately, the pressure is best in August for this science miracle to happen. We tried this with leaves but no luck.
We could smell Nilgiri everywhere because Eucalyptus is found everywhere in Kodaikanal! The guide handed us some eucalyptus leaves and asked us to smell it(if we have a cold) or stick it on our temples (if we have a headache), trust me, my headache disappeared in 5 minutes!
We were taken to a marketplace in the city where we purchased different kinds of oils for muscle pain, dandruff, hair-fall, etc. All of them were of course a 100% natural.
I have not included the cost of shopping in this Kodaikanal budget guide.
Aby’s Cafe is an amazing place to indulge in fast food. We loved the pasta, fries, and pancakes here! Nachos was so-so but still good!
I love this place because it is ZERO PLASTIC! Bags for a parcel is made of used newspapers, cutlery of wood, plates of banana leaves, etc.
This food joint fits my Kodaikanal Budget Guide perfectly with fries, pasta, etc., starting just from INR 100 !
Tip: Kodaikanal sleeps around 7 pm and hence ensure you have packed your dinner or informed your hostel/hotel for one beforehand
Kodaikanal Budget Guide Day 2 : ‘Valley Tour‘
I started my day at 8 in the morning since I wanted to visit Kodaikanal Lake. The ‘Valley Tour’ started at 11 am, which did not cover the lake.
Cycling/ Boating around Lake Kodaikanal
Two new friends from Zostel who hired a cab for their day, dropped me at Lake Kodaikanal. Cycling and boating in/around the lake is not a part of any itinerary of any tours and I’d highly recommend this experience!
The lake opens around 9 in the morning and shuts at 5:30 pm, so make your plans accordingly.
Boating charges range from INR 100 -500 depending on if you take a rower along or a peddling boat. Cycle rent is INR 50 for single-seater and INR 100 for a two-seater.
Kodaikanal has a lot of churches since 33% of the population follow Christianity.
This beautiful Zion Church (2km from Zostel) is in the city center. I was wandering around the church and found an adorable arch gate of climbers and ventured inside.
I was happy to land here because I felt I was transported to Hogwarts! There were two tiny houses that resembled hagrid’s home with benches inside, and an owl statue!
I met the tour’s bus around 11 am at Coaker’s Walk
Coaker’s Walk – a man-made 1km path amidst the misty valleys and mountains of Kodaikanal.
It’s 7400ft above sea level from where you have jaw-dropping views of the green valleys, unseen birds, blue skies, white gorgeous clouds, and fog!
I stood there for half an hour gaping at this breathtaking view.
Moir’s point is another place where you can capture the breathtaking views of the valleys. Hence, I really recommend visiting the point.
Guna Caves aka Devil’s Kitchen
These caves get the name from a famous Tamil movie ‘Guna’ shot here.
It is also known as the Devil’s Kitchen since it is believed that Pandavas stayed here for a bit during their exile.
There are a lot of not harmful monkeys in this area. In addition to this, they are scared all the time, so please do not shoo them away!
Kodaikanal doesn’t stop to surprise us with its greenery. One of it is the 700-acre pine forest which will leave you gobsmacked for sure.
I left for the bus station to catch my bus in the evening to Bangalore.
Where to stay in Kodaikanal?
The accommodation had to be hostel for the cost to fit in this Kodaikanal Budget Guide.
Therefore, I stayed in Zostel because I was travelling solo, wasn’t worried about my safety since it is a renowned chain, would be meeting many people and making friends on the way!
Another alternative, for instance can be Greenlands Youth Hostel. Above all, I met someone who stayed here and told me it is a little less expensive, less crowded, and closer to the city center compared to Zostel.
Is a guide mandatory?
If you have a cab driver with you, I think you should be sorted. But this also depends on your luck if he REALLY is a driver-cum-guide.
However, if you’re a group of 2-3 people and choose to hire a cab, please consider hiring this guide- he’s an old uncle who stands near the Viking board signal near Lake Kodaikanal. Other tour companies get their source of income, but let’s help the locals who are trying to make their ends meet.
If you choose a shared bus, the cost covers a guide too!
Costs for this budget guide to Kodaikanal
To and fro bus from Bangalore cost me INR 1200, stay INR 500, food INR 1000 for 2 days, internal travel and misc. expenses INR ~1000, totaling my weekend trip to ~INR 4000.
Please note these costs are as on July, 2019.
I hope you have had a fun journey in history with this Kodaikanal budget guide. Let me know if you’d like to know anything else and stay connected to read about more places!
Other blogs you might enjoy reading:
- Pondicherry- things to do in 3 days. Read here.
- A guide to Instagrammable Cafes in Kochi. Read here.
- Meeting the Human Gods to experience Theyyam. Read here.
I hope this blog helps you plan your travel easily, making it possible to share it with your travel companions!