Our plan called for a three-night stay in Kodaikanal that included a day-trip to Berijam Lake. As it turned out, we had to skip the trip to Berijam Lake, as they were not giving permits to enter the area due to reconstruction of the road - normally, for a visit to Berijam Lake, one has to get a permit the previous day from the Forest Department Office (location - on the left as you approach Kodaikanal on Laws Ghat Road around 3KM before 7-roads junction) - some travel agents and hotel front desks can arrange this for you as well.
We had reservations at the Kodai Resort Hotel next to Coaker’s Walk. It is a good choice for families with children - there are play areas for kids (both indoors and outdoors) and the cottages have plenty of space and a huge balcony. They have around fifty cottages designed in such a way that all of them have good views on to their private garden area. Access to the balcony is from the living room by climbing a few stairs at the farthest corner. The cottages have a refrigerator, TV, and coffee maker along with hot water service from 6-11 AM and 6-11 PM. They do not have other amenities such as room-heater, AC, and lockers. They smoke the cottage at night-fall to deter mosquitoes and also offer a huge campfire in the private garden area (between 7:15 PM and 8:30 PM), weather permitting. The reception area in front is a heritage building dating back to 1888 with the rest of the cottages constructed in 1984. The included BF has a very good spread and variety every day. The restaurant is also good for lunch/dinner although there are better options within walkable distance, both in terms of quality and price. The location is good although it is not a lake-facing property: it is on the other side of a hill that faces the lake. For good lake view, one option is to go with the Carlton property which is a five-star facility - they have more amenities as well including a swimming pool.
The Lake, Coaker’s Walk, and Bryant Park are all located very close to the hotel. Coaker’s Walk is a 1KM paved scenic walkway with sweeping views of the valley below. The one catch is that the area may get covered with fog obstructing the view - the best time to avoid the fog is between 5 and 6PM. There are street vendors and monkeys on the walkway. A word of caution - the monkeys are known to snatch food from visitors. Bryant Park is adjacent to the Lake and you can enter the park from either the lake side or from just outside the entrance to Coaker’s Walk. It is a flower park with a large open area running through the middle - they have a large variety of roses and lilies - entrance is Rs 30.
The Lake is the main center of activity in Kodaikanal. There are three boat-houses (Kodaikanal Boat Club, Tamil Nadu Tourism Boat Club, and the Carlton Boat Club) spread around the 5.5KM Lake Road. The road is shared by city traffic, horses, and bicycles and so can get quite messy when crowded. The activities available at the lake include boating, horse riding, bicycling, jogging, and pea-shooting. A four-person pedal boat can be rented from the main boat house for around Rs 100/- for half-an-hour. Single-bike rentals go for as low as Rs 20 per hour to around Rs 40 per half-hour based on the condition of the bicycle. Also, duo-cycles are available starting at around Rs 50 - they are good fun, if you are going as a couple. Walking around the lake and jogging are also good options and there is a paved pathway covering the lake - although using the pathway is ideal for walking/jogging, it is sometimes more practical to just use Lake Road instead, as there are too many “obstacles” along the pathway. There are several street vendors around the lake and some of them offer games. The most popular option among them is “shooting” - the idea is to shoot balloons using an air-gun that use peas in-lieu-of pellets - pricing varies between Rs 10 for five rounds and Rs 30 for ten rounds - it is great fun, especially for kids.
Kodai is famous for home-made chocolates and that is a good shopping option to consider. The best, if pricey option is to go with Chocolate Factory (Anna Salai just off 7-roads junction a little up from Domino’s Pizza). They have a number of premium chocolates and also the ever-popular hot-chocolate (Rs 75) - they are melted chocolate served in a small cup - excellent dessert option. For authentic Indian handicrafts, Danish Display (Bazar Road off 7-Roads Junction) is a very good option - they have a good selection of jewellery and specialize in handmade craft made from Jute, Brass, Bronze, and Terracotta.
As far as moderately priced restaurants, the best options are Tava at 7-Roads Junction (below ground level) and Royal Tibet (Tibetan Bread and Honey Ginger Tea are not be missed) on the other side of the same road (PT Road). More uppity options include Cloud Street and Pot Luck, both on PT Road - they are both European style café’s that serve pastas, pizzas, and such. Astoria Vegetarian Restaurant (PT Road) and Rasoi (Annasalai) are other good options in the main city-center.