Kodaikanal is a hill station in the Dindigul district of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The town is located in the Palani Hills, on the Western Ghats range of mountains. It has an average elevation of 2,133 meters (7,000 ft) above sea level and covers an area of 18 km². Kodaikanal is well connected by road to other major cities in Tamil Nadu but does not have an airport or a railway station. The nearest airport is at Madurai, and the nearest railway station is at Palani.
How to reach Kodaikanal by air
The nearest airport to Kodaikanal is the Madurai Airport. It is located about 120 km from Kodaikanal and is well-connected to major Indian cities by domestic airlines. Other airport options include Coimbatore (170 km) and Trichy (200 km). The TNSTC and private operators run bus services between Kodaikanal and these airports regularly. You can also take a private taxi if you want to get there faster.
How to reach Kodaikanal by train
Train stations serving Kodaikanal include Palani, Kodai Road, and Dindigul. Kodaikanal is 65 km from Palani, Kodai Road is 80 km, and Dindigul is 95 km.
Palani is a great place to start from, as there are frequent buses between Palani and Kodaikanal. It takes about an hour and a half from Palani to Kodaikanal.
When traveling from Bangalore to Kodaikanal, Dindigul is a good option. However, you need to take an auto (3-wheeler) from the train station to reach the bus stand, which is about 3 km away. There is not a lot of direct bus service from here to Kodaikanal, so you will have to take a bus to Vathalagundu and then another bus to Kodaikanal. It takes about 2 hours.
Kodai Road is the last option but quite expensive. Only a few buses run between here and Kodaikanal. Most buses go via Vathalagundu, which is a longer route. Taxis are the only option, but they cost upwards of Rs. 2,000, compared to the bus fare of about Rs. 100 from Dindigul or Palani.
How to reach Kodaikanal by road
Direct bus services are available from major Indian cities including Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Bangalore to Kodaikanal. The Kodaikanal bus stand is located right in the center of the town, and all the places are easily accessible by auto or taxi. This is the most economical option for budget travelers to Kodaikanal.
There are two main routes to reach Kodaikanal, one is via Palani and the other via Vathalagundu. Both these places are well connected by various National Highways depending upon which place in South India you are driving from. A 70-kilometer stretch along the ghats is scenic but can be challenging unless you have relevant driving experience.
I have outlined some of the most popular ways to get Kodaikanal, so take your pick and enjoy this beautiful hill station. Please share your experiences if I have missed out on an option or if you have a better alternative.