LUSH GREEN VALLEYS, terraced plantations and a pleasant climate make Kodaikanal one of Tamil Nadu’s most popular hill stations.  Kodaikanal, or Kodal as it is commonly called, was first “discovered” by American missionaries in the 1840s. Drawn by its bracing climate and clean environs, they created a sanatoriumcum- retreat here. They also established Kodai’s International School in 1901. This picturesque town is today spread out around the man-made, star-shaped Kodal Lake, created by the dam built by Sir Vere Henry Levinge in 1863. The 3-km (2-mile) long trail around the lake makes for a pleasant walk. On the shore is a Boat House, built in 1910. East of the lake is Bryant Park, famous for its plant collection and its annual flower show, held in May.

Beyond the city centre are a number of scenic areas, such as Pillar Rocks, Silver Cascade and Green Valley View (originally known as Suicide Point), which offer enchanting picnic spots and views of the deep valley. Kodai also has many opportunities for cycling, riding and long, rambling walks. A trail following the hillside, called Cooker’s Walk, provides a panoramic view of the hill station. The walk ends at the Church of St Peter, built in 1884, which has fine stainedglass windows. Nearby is a small Telescope  House. Some 3 km (2 miles) northeast of the lake is the Kurunji Andavar Temple, dedicated to Murugan. It is named after the amazing kurunji flowers  associated with the god. The Chettiar Park nearby, laid out along the hillside, is where the kurunji blooms every 12 years.

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