First Published on April 26, 2019
With the rising mercury in the cities, it is not surprising to see families setting off for their favorite hill stations across the country. Down south in Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal remains a favorite and rightly so, given that it is the Princess of Hill stations. Besides the lovely things to do in Kodaikanal, what made my last visit here interesting was an invite by GRT Hotels. A stay at their property – GReat Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels, add that little zing to a relaxing break from the routine. While their property pampered me with their comfortable rooms and amenities, it was their Summer Chillers program that ensured that there was no dull moment. Here is why I think you should consider it -especially when you are looking at a short weekend break in South India.
Introducing GRT Hotels
GRT Hotels stands for G.R Thanga Maligai Hotels. They have been in existence for more than 50 years and have resorts across South India. The luxury hotels are set across the best locations in places like Mahabalipuram, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Vellore and more. Some of the key properties like the one in Kodaikanal have an interesting curation of activities that enhance your experience at the GRT Hotel.
Mahabalipuram is a beautiful UNESCO heritage site by the Bay of Bengal. Besides its heritage sites, there are quite a few adventure activities like surfing and deep-sea diving that you can engage in. Get your list of things to do in Mahabalipuram here.
This Summer, a few of the resorts like the one in Kodaikanal and Yercaud have a special package for their guests. Called the Summer Chillers, the guests can choose two of their exotic activities over their 2 nights stay at these resorts.
My room at GReat Trails by GRT Hotels, Kodaikanal
It was almost noon by the time I arrived at GRT Hotels in Kodaikanal. The resort seemed quite cozy with its brown wooden homes. Most of their rooms face the valley around. The interesting part of the whole set up was that these cabins were all at different levels. Currently, the only way to get there is to either walk it up or take their buggy. There is a bit of construction going on in the center for the elevators to make these cabins accessible to the guests who would like to avoid the steep walk or the buggy.
With a quick check-in, I opted to trek up to my room instead of riding in a buggy. The short hike up allowed me to admire the pretty trail leading to the wooden villas. Accompanied by the cheerful chirping of the winged residents, I was soon in front of my room.
A step through the wooden door and I knew that I might just not want to leave the room. The warm ambiance of the room and the pretty view from the window was just the beginning of it. The plush comfortable bed in front of a TV was already tempting me to sprawl on it. I could see the coffee maker by the side along with a fresh basket of fruits and sweets. And then, there was the little writing table which I happily ignored for the rest of my trip. The bathroom was quite spacious with a large mirror, a hairdryer, complimentary dental kits and a shower cubicle. All that I required was in!
Food at GRT Hotels
Lunch during my stay was a-la-carte as the buffet spread was limited to the morning and evening meals. The reason for the same being that noon was when most guests set off to explore Kodaikanal. Having tried a variety of dishes here over my stay, I can say that you are in for a gourmet treat. With a refreshing drink, you can start your meal with scrumptious pappads, salads, and soups and then dig your way through the mix of Indian and continental dishes. My favorite here would be a local dish called Kothu Parotta with egg. The entire dish is a meal in itself. And the spread of desserts – I definitely added a pound or two during my stay. There was no denying the fruit custard and chocolate brownie 🙂
The best part of the whole dining experience was the view of the valley. I even loved the floral wall at the other end of the restaurant. The whole ambiance definitely added a unique spin to your food experience.
Amenities at the GRT hotel
The GRT resort in Kodaikanal has several amenities that promise to keep – both the kids and the adults engaged. Their Bodhi Spa has a very interesting menu of therapies. From beauty regimes to relaxation services, you can pick one and book yourself in for a pampering session. I picked their signature Body massage and actually managed to catch up on my sleep during the session.
The Indoor games room has a plethora of activities for adults and kids. I found some unique games like Othello and Chinese Checkers in addition to the regular resort ones of Carrom and chess available here. For those who like a little more action, there is a Table Tennis table as well as Foosh Ball. And if that bores you, you can always head out for some adventure within the resort.
The kids have a friendly in-house pony to entertain them while the teens and the adults can take up a challenge of steering through the resort – on a ropeway. The outdoor rope activities is a course that starts with a zip line, followed by a spider’s web and some Burma loops. There is also, a moving bridge for those who can cross over with ease. The best part of this is that there are enough safety precautions being taken by the resort official. You are well harnessed with belts and helmets before you start.
Daily Activities at GRT
Every day, the resort has a set of pre-decided activities for their guests. This is charted out at the restaurant every morning and the guests are free to participate in them. During my stay, they had the following –
- Carnival games
- Morning nature walk
- Movie Time
- DJ and Dance around the bonfire
It was fun seeing the kids engage in the carnival games. The greed to win that colorful gift led to so much excitement that even I could not resist joining the cheerleaders on the sidelines. The simple games did get me to try out my hand but only to see if I had still got a winning touch. 😉
The Pottery class was quite intriguing. The art is quite deceptive. It looks like a piece of cake until you get your hands dirty. It takes a skillful touch to mould that delicate piece of ware. A little extra pressure or a slight nudge collapses your entire creation. I definitely had a blast watching people trying it out.
My favorite among all these was the morning nature walk. A 6 km trek around the GRT hotels allowed me to capture some gorgeous views of the valley and Palani Hills. Adding to the freshness, was the sight of pretty flowers and fruits like peaches. An avid bird watcher – Mr. Bala from GRT Hotels, was quick to point out the resident birds of Kodaikanal. From Bulbuls to wild mynahs and the Bushchats – there were plenty of them creating a melodious ruckus. Sharing it all in the slide show below –
Summer Chillers Package
There are a few paid activities that GRT Hotels offers at various resorts. In case of the Great Trails Kodaikanal, these are a few of them,
- A Signature Massage Therapy at the Bodhi Spa
- The Adventure trail on their rope course
- Picnic by Berijim lake
- Cooking with the chef. Learning 3 exclusive recipes
- Walking along with scenic sights near Dolphin’s nose and a few other locations
- Dining on a hilltop with the mountains by your side and the stars above you
- Half a day tour of Kodaikanal
Details on this can be found here. The Summer Chillers Package offers any two these complimentary with a 2 nights stay at the resort. As a treat, I got to try out the Spa and also, got a tour of the key places to visit in Kodaikanal. Along with my GRT host, in a comfortable taxi, I started my tour with a visit to Moir Point and ending at Kodaikanal lake. Here is the list of the key Kodaikanal tourist places along with a quick slide show of the same.
Things to do in Kodaikanal
- Moir Point – A point showcasing the gorgeous valley of Kodaikanal. This one is close to the road that leads to Berijam Lake.
- Pine Forest – A visit here will make you feel like a character out of your favorite Bollywood movie. Thousands of Pine trees stand strong on a large stretch of land.
- Devil’s Kitchen or Guna Caves – The caves enclosed within 3 rocks with a steep drop was a thrilling experience for the adventure lovers until it was closed following a mishap. You can still visit it for a lovely view of the cliffs around.
- Pillar Rocks – Two long pillars – basically cliffs rising sharply above the surrounding ones. The viewpoint allows you to spot not just these but also, seven other ranges surrounding Kodaikanal
- Green Valley View – This is also, called Suicide Point. With a steep drop of 5000 ft, this point offers you a lovely view of the valley and the Vaigai dam.
- Golf Course – Even if you don’t play the 18 holes, a quick visit to the Golf Course of Kodaikanal can really refresh you with its pretty layout.
- Coaker’s walk – Coaker’s Walk is called so after is initial patron – Lieutenant Coaker. The walk allows you to spot some interesting parts of Kodai, especially when you try out the Telescope here.
- Bryant Park – A 20-acre park with gorgeous specimens of flora. Perfect for a picnic
- Kodaikanal Lake – The man-made lake is a center point of Kodai town. Besides boating, you can also, go biking or horse-riding around the lake.
- La Saleth Church – The beautiful blue and white church was set up in the 1880s and is one of the rare churches to be dedicated to Lady of La Saleth. It is only one of the two such churches – the other one being in France.
- Kurunji Andavar Temple – Dedicated to Lord Kartikeya, a visit here is a must for its gorgeous architecture. You can also, visit the lovely viewpoint behind the temple as well as shop for the pretty tribal wares in the shops around the temple.
While I enjoyed getting to these places, I would like to warn you that they are extremely crowded. It would be best to do these on your own or book one of the regular Kodaikanal tour packages for it. Most of these tour packages include the above plus places like the Silver Cascade. I personally, would have loved to try out the Berijam Lake hike or the Dolphin’s nose one. However, the Berijam lake was closed owing its weekly holiday on Tuesday and I did not have enough time for the Dolphin’s nose trek. In any case, you guys can plan your outing in advance now that I have let you in on this secret. So, pin this to your board, check your calendars and start booking your Summer Chillers Package.
How to get to Kodaikanal?
- The closest railway station to Kodaikanal is at Kodai Road (100 km) while the closest airport would be at Madurai at 120 km. Coimbatore is the other options for getting here by flights. The Coimbatore airport is at 170 km from the main town.
- There are regular buses from all these cities and town to Kodaikanal. You can also, get here directly by bus from Bengaluru and Chennai.
- GReat Trails by GRT , Kodaikanal can be found here on your mobile map. It is around 4 – 5 km from the main town.
P.S: I was invited by GReat Trails Kodaikanal by GRT Hotels to experience their resort and facilities. However, the opinions in the blog are truly and honestly my own.