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 to as the "Princess of Hill stations" and has a long history as a retreat and popular tourist destination.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 town of Kodaikanal sits on a plateau above the southern escarpment of the upper Palani Hills at 2,133 metres (6,998 ft), between the Parappar and Gundar Valleys. These hills form the eastward spur of the Western Ghats on the Western side of South India. It has an irregular basin as its heartland, the centre of which is now Kodaikanal Lake a 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) circumference manmade lake.Meadows and grasslands cover the hillsides. Gigantic Eucalyptus trees and shola forests flourish in the valleys. Mighty rocks and cascading streams. rise up from the valleys. There are many high waterfalls and ubiquitous gardens and flower beds in bloom.
Kodaikanal is known for its rich flora. Of the big trees, cypress, eucalyptus and acacia are the dominant varieties. Pear trees are numerous and the fruits are of high quality. Competing with the fruit trees are the flowering ones - mainly rhododendron and magnolia. Large dahlias of different hues are the main attraction of Bryant Park, situated close to the Kodai lake. Water lilies in the park's pond are another pleasing sight. The town abounds in a kind of beautiful yellow wild flowers.
The economy of Kodaikanal is predominantly run by tourism. The number of tourists increased from two million in 1999 to 3.2 million in 2009. The town's infrastructure changes every year in preparation for the peak tourist season. Major roads are converted into one-way lanes to regulate the constant inflow of traffic and special police are brought in for the safety of the tourists and protection of local businesses. Hotels are often fully booked during the high season, and remain virtually empty during the off-season. Due to the rapid development of nearby cities such as Madurai and Coimbatore, the town is starting to enjoy year-round tourism.
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.
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