:: Kodaikanal Settlement ::
Kodaikanal as a hill-station has a long and impressive history. It all started in the early 1820s. The ruling British elite and the Madurai based American missionaries were in search of a hill-station at an altitude where they would escape the dangers of tropical diseases in summer.

Lieutenant Ward, an Englishman, climbed up from kunnavan village of Vellagavi to Kodaikanal in 1821 to survey the area. 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 one Dr. Wight visited kodaikanal and recorded his observations, which were very useful to botanisits later. In 1844, Mr. Fane, another Englishman, built a godowns in Kodaikanal. In 1845, the first two bungalows, "Sunny-Side" and "Shelton", were built by American Missionaries with the help of Mr.Fane. Then, six Ameircan families came up the hill and stayed for the first time from abroad at Kodaikanal. They built houses along the lake area. From that day Kodaikanal, the hill-station was launched. First, it is served as a health resort and holiday center for foreigners. The first Anglican Church was built by the Bishop Caldwell in 1860. Major J.M. Patridge of the British Army introduced new species of trees like Eucalyptus and Wattle. Major Law was assigned to the task of planning and laying a motorable road from Batlagundu to kodai. When completed, the Law’s Ghat Road was opened to the Public from 1914 after a formal inaugural by Pentland, the Governor of Madras Presidency.

In 1875 the first steam cars were trickling into India. Major Law of the Madras Staff corps was asked to plan and build a road up to Kodai for motor vehicles. Work was started on the road and it was over by 1914. But it was not opened for the public use untill 1916. Public buses began to run in the road from 1916.

In 1970 a proposal for a new road northward to Palani was passed at a cost of approximately Rs. 75 Lakhs, and work was commenced. To avoid the impassable scraps slopes, the road will not go directly through vilpatti or Pommbarai from kodaikanal, but turn off from the Ghat Road at Perumalmalai and follow the collie path from there through the Varadamandi river system rather than the Kallar valley. The present 90 -mile route will thus be shortened to 22 - mile.


The retired British officers and missionaries found it more rewarding to settle down at kodai than returning to their native land. By 1850s, the practice of social calls was replaced by the funding of clubs. To them it was a social necessity. The English Club, the Golf Club and the Boat Club, all Started in the 1890s, were run on English tradition. Though membership was open to foreigners, a handful of Indian aristocrats were also admitted. Later developments include landscaped gardens, a lake reclaimed out of a pool of rainwater, the establishment of an International School in 1901 for the European children, an observatory in 1898 and a museum in 1895. The southern extension of Indian Railway in 1916 gave improved accessibility to Kodai. Kodai was thus spotted and developed by the English bureaucrats and American Missionaries for the benefit of the holidaying westerners.


Kodai was a beautiful and cloistered mountain peak until the Indian property developers entered the scene and turned it into a tourist center. Now, after Indian Independence, it has become a vacation center in the international tourist map. Kodai and its surrounding hills are famous for vibrant flowers, many of which find a place in the annual flower shows. It is the crisp mountain climate and the fresh air tinged with the smell of rain that attracts the tourists to kodai. Walking near the edge of a rock one can see clouds playing hide and seek, or a rainbow appearing from now here only to disappear suddenly or watch the melting of dewdrops from green leaves. Besides the chill weather and the all-around greenery.
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