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Kodaikanal Travel Guide:

Kodaikanal is a city in the hills of the taluk division of the Dindigul district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Its name in the Tamil language means "The Gift of the Forest". Kodaikanal is referred as the "Princess of Hill stations" and has a long history as a retreat and popular tourist destination. It's a lot cooler in temperature than lower elevation cities such as Chennai.

Kodaikanal was established in 1845 as a refuge from the high temperatures and tropical diseases of the plains. Much of the local economy is based on the hospitality industry serving tourism.

The earliest residents of Kodaikanal were the Palaiyar tribal people. The earliest specific references to Kodaikanal and the Palani Hills are found in Tamil Sangam literature of the early Christian era. Modern Kodaikanal was established by American Christian missionaries and British bureaucrats in 1845, as a refuge from the high temperatures and tropical diseases of the plains.In the 20th century a few elite Indians came to realise the value of this enchanting hill station and started relocating here.

Tourism has been impacted by industrial pollution issues including the closure of a mercury factory owned by Unilever's Indian subsidiary Hindustan Unilever after evidence of widespread mercury pollution. to date no proper clean-up operation has been mounted.

Kodaikanal is renowned for the Kodaikanal International School, Zion Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Brindavan Public School, St.Peter's Matriculation Higher Secondary School and the Kodaikanal Public School The other schools are: Bhavan's Gandhi Vidyashram, Brindavan Matric Higher secondary School, St. Joseph's Public School , St. Xavier's High School and St. John's Girls Higher Secondary School.

The main colleges here are (American University of India (AUI) / Kodai International Business School (KIBS) which is an elite Business school offering MBA & BBA programs in USA & India located in Ugarthenager, Kodaikanal Christian College, and Sacred Heart College. Mother Theresas University is distinctive as India's only university devoted to exclusively women's issues. In 2005 a new engineering college specializing in Information Technology, Kodaikanal Institute of Technology under Anna University, has been established 22 kilometres (14 mi) below Kodaikanal town. It has a 25 acres (10 ha) Wireless networked campus including of state-of-art Laboratories, Digital Library & Learning Management System, 24/7 high-speed 8 Mbit/s Internet facility and a Hostel.

Since Kodaikanal was founded by the American and European Missionaries, Christian churches are abundant in Kodaikanal. They include Church of South India - opposite Bryant Park, Gorapur, Lake End, La Salette, Lutheran Mission, Sacred Heart - Munjikal, Saint Antony’s - Antonyar Kovil street, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Joseph's, Saint Mary's and Saint Peter’s - Cockers Walk road. Amongst the most popular is Union Church with a large Tamil congregation and Margaret Eddy Memorial Chapel at Kodai International School with lively services in a typically American style and distinctive stone architecture.

There are many Hindu Temples in Kodaikanal including the Durgai Amman Kovil, Kurinji Andavar Kovil, Mariamman Kovil, Observatory Murugan Kovil and Vinayagar Kovil. The Muslim mosques are Ellis Villa and Munjikal. There is an active community of Tibetan Buddhist refugees.

Almost all distances from Kodaikanal are calculated with the lake as the central point of reference. The nearest airports are Madurai (135 kilometres / 84 miles), Trichy (200 kilometres / 120 miles) and Coimbatore (170 kilometres / 110 miles). The nearest Railway stations are Palani Railway Station (64 kilometres / 40 miles) north, Kodai Road Station (80 kilometres / 50 miles) south east and Dindigul Railway Junction (100 kilometres (62 mi)) east.

The 2 to 3 hours drive to Kodai via the steep and winding Ghat roads from Batlagundu or Palani is a memorable experience. Travelers may stop at turnouts on the road and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Palani hills. There is a 28 km shortcut from Periyakulam to Kodaikanal via Kumbakarai . Bicycle rentals, taxis, vans and limited city buses are available. Auto rickshaws are not available.

It is not known who first used this name or what they intended it to mean.

However the following explanation makes some sense. By pronouncing with long Tamil 'O' as ko...dai means the summer and kanal means to see, which means a place to see in Summer. Kodaikanal is actually a summer forest.

The other interesting explanations are, the Tamil language, has four versions are defined to the name "Kodaikanal". It is interesting but it is not known who invented this name. The word Kodaikanal is classified into two words as Kodai and Kanal. Here "Kanal" means in Tamil that the dense forest or the closed forest. Then "Kodai" has four different meanings. With its meanings Kodaikanal meant in four ways. By pronouncing with long Tamil 'O' and KO....DI means "the end". So that KO...DI KANAL means "The End of the Forest" in the bygone days, Kodaikanal is situated at the end part of the thick forest. Nowadays it is developed but the beauty is still kept.

By pronouncing with short Tamil 'O' as KODI means "The Creepers". So that Kodaikanal means "The Forest of Creepers". "The Forest of Creepers" is also thought to be the English language meaning given in 1885 during the early western habitation of the place, and is still accepted. They called like this with its beauty.

By pronouncing with long Tamil 'O' as KO....DAI means "The Summer". So KO...DAI KANAL means "The Forest of the Summer". Kodaikanal is actually a summer forest. By pronouncing with short Tamil 'O' as KODAI means that "The Gift". So that "Kodaikanal" means "The Gift of the Forest" Kodaikanal was created by the forest and it surroundings. So it may be called as the gift of forest.