Here is a story Lieutenant Ward, an Englishman, who climbed up from the Kunnavan village of Vellagavi to Kodaikanal in 1821 to survey the area on the hilly ranges of Palani. In 1834, the Madurai collector climbed the hill from Devadanapatti and built a small bungalow at the head of Adukkam pass near Shenbaganur.
In 1836, Dr.Wite visited Kodaikanal and recorded his observations, and these were very useful to botanists later. In 1845, American Missionaries built the first two bungalows “Sunnyside” and “Shelton”. Later, six American families came up the hill and stayed for the first time in Kodaikanal. Following this, the British also built houses here. The hill station Kodaikanal was created to serve the needs of the British and Europeans in India. The 20th century saw elite Indians enteri Kodaikanal to enjoy its charm and beauty and to harness its natural wealth for development.
Stages of development In 1875, the Indian railways extended its line from Chennai to Tirunelveli and a station was created at Ammaianayakkanur and this was later renamed Kodai Road, to provide a gateway to Kodaikanal. Tourists started their journey at Ammaianayakkanur Railway station upto Krishnamma Nayak Thope. This trek was undertaken to Kodaikanal, 18 kms distance away using horses and palanquins, with coolies for assistance.
Today, the charm of Kodaikanal lies in its wooded slopes and gigantic trees. The mighty rocks, bowers, creeks and slopes captivate the visitors. The meadows, the long stretches of forests, beautiful spots and the flocks of sheep grazing on green pastures are a source of joy, delight and thrill to onlookers. The climb to the various jutting rocks at Kodai is rewarding. The arduous climb to the Pillar rocks, to a height of 400 ft, is a must for every visitor to this hill resort.
The Lake The 24-hectare lake skirted by a 5 km long black tar road, is the focal point in Kodai. This lake was created in 1863 by Sir vere Hendry Levinge (1819-1885).He was previously the Collector of Madurai, who retired and settled in Kodai. He constructed the bund to form a lake and stocked the lake with fish. He brought the first boat from Tuticorin. In 1890, a boat club was formed and members of the club set sail. In 1910 a new boathouse was constructed. The boat service was opened to the public and tourist as well in 1932.
Bryant’s park This park is situated on the eastern side of the lake. It is noted for its flowers, both hybrids and grafts. Cut flowers are exported from here. A glass house which shelters fine varieties of flowers can be seen here. The Flower Show conducted every year during May, as part of the Summer Festivals, should be seen by everyone.
Solar Physical Observatory It is situated 3.2 kms. from the lake. This observatory was founded in 1989, and it is located at an elevation of 2343 mtrs. This observatory is the highest point in Kodai. Visitors can observe the stars and the planets.