Being wiser from our previous experiences, we first headed to Tourist Information Center after breakfast, to decide on day’s activities. The TIC at Kodai kanal is pretty well equipped with maps of almost all tourist sections of Tamil Nadu. We took opted for the English maps (there were some in regional languages too). Also we had a local tourist company’s day tour list. I find such day tour itineraries very helpful. Usually you can cover a full day taxi tour in a half day by private vehicle. Besides, as these tours are mostly linear, that is on tour covers points on one side of the town and doesn’t go crisscross; you can cover all the famous tourist spots properly.
The tour plan in Kodai kanal seemed pretty linear. There were countless taxis going to one direction only, evidently on a day tour. We followed them, and reached to the first stop, Telescope house. But it was closed on account of Sunday. There was hardly anything to watch either, because of fog. And a gang of monkeys was following us, so I didn’t dare to take out the camera. Running after a monkey shouting for my camera was not part of today’s itinerary.
After the view point, next stop is Fairy falls. The road to this water falls goes through an ungodly steep road. After climbing down a lot, you finally come to this waterfall. Surprisingly this had fair amount of water in it. Just after the monsoon, it would be grand, but then it would have a lot of competition from its neighbouring waterfalls.
The taxis were seen returning from this point, but when we checked the map, it showed an Apple Research Center just ahead. Seeing it market on the tourist map, we guessed it would be open to tourists, and headed that way. A big closed gate stopped us. Seeing that there was no guard, we quietly opened the gate, and entered. Some distance inside, there are lots of green houses, with various plants. These are seemingly not commercial ones, but government research ones, so cleanliness was not a point high on agenda. But the collection of plants was good. The atmosphere was so eerie in the green house with some twisted looking plants, that Nandinee refused to enter more than a step’s distance inside it.
We roamed around freely. The fact that we couldn’t communicate in their language was sometimes favouring us, like this time. We didn’t have to ask for permissions, and they didn’t feel any need to stop us for that. However, we were always in social limits, and never did anything that would mean too much on their accommodating nature.
There was a greenhouse where they were doing some research on Gerbera flower. We both like this flower a lot, and would have loved to hear or know a bit about the research. I am no botanist, so wasting a time of a research person would not be prudent, but having someone who could let us know what it was about would have been great.
We left the research center, and continued on random roads. Surprisingly, we landed on the road we were heading to, miraculously much ahead on it. So now we had to do the sight seeing in opposite manner.
There was a golf course shown on the tourist map, and we passed besides it. Except some patch on the ground, all the rest of the course was yellowed grass, and not the green maintained one. Guess it was not the season for golf!
Then came the Shooting point. It is said a lot of movie shootings are done here, and it might be truth. The area is dense with closely planted palm trees that are backdrop of romantic scenes. But the ground is at 45 degrees slope at this point, so how they manage to run around singing remained a question. Later we saw that the opposite part of this ground was on a flat level, and thus apt for dancing. This would be more suitable for a ‘villain-chases-heroin’ part.
Then it was the Guna caves. You have to walk some distance, for reaching the main point. Frankly, I did not get where the caves were. They seem to be behind a barricaded cliff. As usual, whenever people know there is something at height, they go and jump from it. Similar thing happened here too many times, and the government got bored of finding out the bodies from jungle. So they put up huge rails barring people to go near the cliff to see any cave, thus nullifying the reason to go there. Few brave souls were sneaking around and over the compound to go to Guna rails. Being married is adventurous enough for me, so I didn’t go for such heroics.
Next point was the Pillar rocks. These three rocks are many meters high standing solemnly, and are a tourist attraction. There is a nice point developed for seeing these rocks. From a telescope-wala there, we could see a big white cross fallen near the rocks, said to be fallen about hundred years ago. Couldn’t click the cross’s photo, because I couldn’t align camera’s lens with the telescope’s.
Last, there were two view points. First was Moir view point, that is strictly guarded by forest department. The guard gives you a grave stare if you ask anything. One needs permission from forest department for continuing tours inside the forest starting at Moir point. The other view point is Silent Valley View point. You walk up a good distance slightly upwards, and come to a dead end from where you can see the city, on a fog free day. This was not a fog free day, so we couldn’t see much. Thus no photos of this point either.
The roads around Kodaikanal are steep, twisty and non-crowded (in off season). Riding on them slowly was a pleasure, taking in the beauty of nature. Even the houses and hotels we spotted while riding were beautiful, and truly resembling a dream home.
After lunch, we went to Bryant’s Park. With a fair bit of entry fee and camera fee, we felt this park was an exaggeration of tourist spot. Almost whole garden was Work in Progress, with almost every area covered in newly potted plants, with zero flowers. There was only one interesting flowery area, the greenhouse in the park, which proudly displayed the sign ‘no photography’. There too, majority of the plants were ‘begonia’ a commonly found flower plant. The park was big and nice with the lawn, and seemed a local attraction too, but surely the claim of ‘740 variety of roses’ is to be taken with a bunch of salt. And so is the claim of some 140 years banyan tree, which is surrounded by much older looking trees. It seemed local authorities had gone bit overboard with the park.
Just in front of the park, there was Coaker’s walk, a paved walking path that goes besides the valley. The views are beautiful, and the ambience superb. It is very calming to stroll down the Coaker’s walk, looking backwards on your life and planning for future. Or some may find it apt just to sit in quite and connect to themselves. This is no point for music fanatics who can’t go anywhere without having blaring loud music with them, neither for some parents with cranky kids. This spot is of writers, poets, artists and lovers. This was the last point we saw on the day, and the one that made the biggest impact.
It was time for the customary shopping, and soon after dinner we were back at hotels. Tomorrow would be a lazy day, as the destination was Munnar, hardly 100 Kilometers from Kodaikanal. We figured that even on ghat roads, 3 hours ought to be enough for covering 100 clicks, so the departure time was set at 3.00 P.M. We had the Google map printout with us as always, and it showed a nice road connecting Kodaikanal and Munnar. Tomorrow we would have a lesson of our life because of trusting machines blindly.