Home is where one feels a sense of belonging, and the staff at Great Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels offered us just that. Their warmth and hospitality didn’t terminate at the boundaries of the beautiful resort. Enabling us with a guide and a comfortable ride, they gave us a pore over of some of the most amazing sights and experiences known to locals alone. And for us travelling like a local is the real deal; because, that it the only way to take trips that matter and experience what any place has to truly offer! So, do yourself a favour and see Kodaikanal through the path less travelled. Skip Kodaikanal Lake, Bryant Park and the usual and choose from a variety of experiences curated by Great Trails Kodaikanal.
The Great Trails Trek
I’m no early morning birdie, especially when someone suggests going on a trek. So I’m writing this segment purely from the eyes of Prashanth. The guided trek begins at 6 am from the resort and on your way up the hill you notice potato farms, lush green fields and local people heading to work. As you go along, the climb gets slightly steeper, offering you aerial views of the resort and private bungalows around. On reaching the view point (where the trek ends) you will be smitten with breathtaking views of Elephant valley. It’s a time-lapse galore for any photography enthusiast.
Strawberry Farm Experience
And you thought Strawberries were only grown in Mahabaleshwar? Nah! High altitudes and cool climatic conditions in the hills of Kodai, actually offer the perfect environment to grow these luscious red berries. Hence, the GRT Group created their own strawberry farm located 30 mins away from the resort. They seized the opportunity of being the only ones to do it in this region and they didn’t just stop at that. The farm today also cultivates organic vegetables like broccoli, capsicum etc. When we visited the farm (end of July) there were a handful of strawberries to pick and the workers had just planted a fresh batch. So we got lucky to see the first step of cultivation, along with tasting the end product of this process.
A treat for the eyes and tastebuds at Poombarai Village
A cluster of tiny houses married with lustrous green paddy fields, enveloped in clouds. This is one hell of a view you will get to witness on your ride from central Kodai to Mannavanur Eco Tourism site (with a slight detour of course). Poombarai village, located in the heart of Palani Hills is mainly famous for two things – Poondu (garlic) and Poombarai Kuzhanthai Velappar Temple, which is over 3000 years old. The people of this village are extremely friendly and the kids exude with innocence. The stash of garlic being sold on the roadside called out the curious foodaholics in us. They were unlike anything we’d seen. So robust and flavourful, we decided to buy a whole kilo and take it back home. We did put it to the test and Prashanth said “it was a catalyst in creating a smashing spaghetti aglio e olio.” Thumbs up for that!
Discover the unknown at Mannavanur Eco Tourism Site
What do you do when you are headed to a place you’ve never heard of, especially when it’s a government lead initiative? You mostly disregard it or hold very low expectations. But to our surprise the Mannavanur Eco Tourism site turned out to be a stunning hamlet comprising of five ecosystems. Unadulterated views of meadows and rolling hills instantly transported us back to hills of Scotland. The beauty of this place is so mesmerizing that you could sit here all day long not wanting to go back. The best part – hardly any tourists and you get to interact with horses, sheep and rabbits. The centers established here promote agro-tourism and offer you a chance to peek into their development programs.
Picnic on the banks of Lake Mannavanur
We’ve travelled long and far discovering so many lakes, but setting up a picnic spot in these serene locations never occurred to us. So when the folks at Great Trails Kodaikanal turned a picturesque location into a makeshift lunch spot, we couldn’t have asked for more. Imagine gorging on Biryani while you enjoy the vistas of Lake Mannavanur – just perfect! And once you’re done satisfying your appetite, you could give riding on a coracle a try too.
Explore Berijam Lake and it’s ecosystem
Berijam Lake is a scenic freshwater reservoir that is hidden amidst dense forests near the beautiful hill station of Kodaikanal. The area surrounding the Lake is rich in natural beauty and makes for a perfect photography haunt. Visitors can also take pictures of animals and birds, which are seen in the catchment area of this lake or the trail that leads to it. We spotted plenty of monkeys, bison and wild boars. The absence of sound and stunning landscape will surely have you coming back again. Located closer to Mannavanur Eco Tourism site, visitors are allowed through the forest to visit the Lake from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on all days. Entry is free, but ensure you’ve applied for permission through the forest department. But if you are visiting under the booking with Great Trails Kodaikanal you have nothing to worry about. They will take care of it all.
Planning a trip to Kodaikanal? Let us know if this helped. Also feel free to leave us a comment with your questions or doubts and we will do our best to make it as smooth for you as it was for us 🙂