Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kodaikanal - ‘Princess of Hill Stations’

We made it to Kodaikanal, a small hill station in Tamil Nadu, a little after lunchtime. The owner of our guesthouse, B’s Hive, sent a taxi to pick us up, and we were dropped off and shown to our room. Not only did only did our room give us a wonderful view of the hills and valley, but, since it wasn’t occupied, we were upgraded to a bigger room with a bay window and a veranda for free! Unfortunately, this turned out to be pretty much the only form of “service” we received during our stay. We never officially met the owner, and the staff was rarely anywhere to be found; therefore, whenever we needed anything, like laundry, food or a taxi, we had to call the owner who would then track somebody down to help us. When we finally were able to send out our laundry, it took forever and wasn’t ready when they said it would be, and when Scott needed change after paying for the room, it took them until our last day to give itto him. In any case, the room itself was very nice, clean and big (and even had hot water, since it was actually cold there), despite the slight annoyances of people playing loud music at night and dogs howling all night long. 

Steep AlleySteep Alley

Steep Alley
Being in a small town with less traffic and pollution, not to mention nice, cool weather, has been a welcomed change, which is why we extended our stay from the initial two nights to almost a week. We found some good restaurants with Indian and Tibetan food (though their hours seemed to be ever changing), and we browsed several of the local handicraft shops, a few of which supported good causes, such as helping disadvantaged children and empowering women from rural areas. 

During our stay in the mountains, we got some good exercise by taking walks into town, which was quite a hike from our guesthouse and ALL uphill, and we enjoyed walking around the lake and spending some time taking in the natural beauty of the area. One day, we even took a long hike up to a nice lookout point called Green Valley View, but, after pushing our way through a tunnel of sales 
Our Bay WindowOur Bay WindowOur Bay Window
people and braving the monkeys lining the railing, we decided not to stay long. Afterwards, we continued our hike to see some neat rock formations called Pillar Rocks. It was a really long walk, but very beautiful, and we were happy to be out of the city for the first time in awhile. On our way, we passed a few schools, some nice little cottages, and an interesting golf course unlike any I’ve ever seen in the states. Not only were there several people crowded around a hole at a time, but the hole was surrounded by netting, making us wonder how exactly one is supposed to go about putting…Dad, if you have any insight, let us know! 

Once we’d made it to Pillar Rocks, we were exhausted from walking, so we tried to catch a cab back into town. The man refused to give us a fair price – a problem we’ve encountered often in this country, as all drivers refuse to use their meters – but when a local saw us struggling, he offered to give us a lift on his motorcycle. We were a little wary to (a) accept a ride from a total stranger and 
View near Pillar RocksView near Pillar RocksView near Pillar Rocks
(b) attempt to fit the three of us on the bike, but the sun was about to set and we didn’t want to get stranded, so we went for it. The man was very nice and took us all the way to town for free, but when he dropped us off, a policeman reprimanded us for “triple riding,” which is apparently illegal even though we’ve seen entire families on motorcycles here. We thought he was going to give us a ticket (in which case we planned to plead ignorance), but luckily he just gave us a warning. 

One day we ventured over to Coaker’s Walk, a path that we’d been told had some great mountain views, but it turned out to be very short and cost money, deeming it slightly underwhelming. We also paid to walk through Bryant’s Park. This was a nice area with a cool greenhouse, but it didn’t appear to be very well kept up…the fountain in the pond was broken, and the water looked gross. And there was trash everywhere. We decided the lake was the best place to go for a walk, even if it did mean being frequently pestered by strangers to have 

our pictures made with them. Aside from eating, shopping and reading, we spent a lot of time just relaxing and enjoying our surroundings. All the shop owners we talked to were very nice and hospitable.

Kodaikanal was pleasant. Hill stations are generally quite similar from one another, but this is a great place for a short weekend trip. Head out and relax in the surroundings.

And its me,

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