Perched on top of the Palani range, around 120km northwest of Madurai, Kodaikanal, also known as Kodai, owes its perennial popularity to its hilltop position which, at an altitude of 2133m, affords breathtaking views over the blue-green reaches of the Vaigai plain. Raj-era bungalows and flower-filled gardens add atmosphere, while short walks out of the centre lead to rocky outcrops, waterfalls and dense shola forest. With the more northerly wildlife sanctuaries and forest areas of the Ghats closed to visitors, Kodai’s outstandingly scenic hinterland also offers south India’s best trekking terrain.

After a while in the south Indian plains, a retreat to Kodai’s cool heights is more than welcome. However, in the height of summer (April–July) when temperatures compete with those in the lowlands, it’s not worth the trip – nor is it a good idea to come during the monsoon (Oct–Dec), when the town is shrouded in mist and prone to heavy downpours. From January to early March the nights are chilly so the peak tourist season runs from April to June, when prices soar.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook