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. This misty hill station, 120km northwest of Madurai in the Palani hills, is more relaxed and intimate than its big sister Ooty (Kodai is the ‘Princess of Hill Stations’, while Ooty is the Queen). It’s not all cold either; during the day the weather can be more like deep spring than early winter. The renowned Kodaikanal International School provides a bit of cosmopolitan flair, with students from around the globe.

Centred on a beautiful lake, Kodai rambles up and down hillsides with patches of shola forest, unique to the Western Ghats in South India, and evergreen broadleaf trees like magnolia, mahogany, myrtle and rhododendron. Another of its plant specialities is the kurinji shrub, whose lilac-blue blossoms appear only every 12 years: next due 2018.

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

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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