Kodaikanal was established as a hill station by American missionaries 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 realize the value of this enchanting place and started relocating here. Kodaikanal is sometimes referred to as the "Princess of Hill Stations". Much of the local economy is now based on the hospitality industry, serving national and international tourists.
Kodaikanal is referred to as the "Princess of Hill stations" and has a long history as a retreat and popular tourist destination.Kodaikanal name in the Tamil language means "The Gift of the Forest".
Kodaikanal is a city and a Taluk division of Dindigul district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.The earliest residents of Kodaikanal were the Paliyan tribal people. The earliest specific references to Kodaikanal and the Palani Hills are found in Tamil Sangam literature of the early Christian era.
The Tamil language word kodaikanal, refers to a sanatorium at the top of Kodaikanal, the southern ridge of the Palani hills more than 7,000 ft. high. It is not known who first used this name kodaikanal or what they intended it to mean, however, in the Tamil language there are at least five meanings. The word is formed from the two separate Tamil words Kodai and kanal. kanal means a wood on a hill-slope, a dense forest or a closed forest.
Another Tamil meaning for Kodi is Valli, the honey collecting daughter of the chief of the Veddas mountain tribe. In ancient times the chief and his wife prayed to the Mountain God for a girl-child. Their prayers were answered when the chief found a new-born girl child during a hunting expedition.
As she was found among creeper plants, they named the child Valli and she grew up as princess of the tribe Kurinji and became the consort of lord Murugan The romantic traditions of Murugan in Sangam literature are thus claimed to be associated with the name Kodaikanal. By integrating these meanings, Kodaikanal is that place at the end of Valli's forest which is a gift in the summer.
There is archaeological evidence of human habitation in this area before the Current Era BCE. Megalithic dolmens dating from early Chera Dynasty times, earthen pots and other artefacts which have been found here prove that the earliest residents of Kodaikanal were the Palaiyar Pazhaiyar, "old ones" tribal people. Some local relics and artefacts of the Palaiyar can be seen in the Shenbaganur Museum.
Travellers going to Kodaikanal starting their journey at Ammaianayakkanur village travelled 50 kilometers 31 mi in 12 to 14 hours by bullock cart up to Krishnamma Nayak Thope. From there, the 18 kilometers 11 mi journey to Kodaikanal was undertaken by foot, horse, or palanquins with hired coolies. An improvised palanquin, called a dholie In 1854, an improved 16 kilometers 9.9 mi bridle path was built from Krishnamma Nayak Thope. In 1875, the Indian Railways extended its line from Chennai to Tirunelveli and a train station named Kodaikanal Road was built near Ammaianayakkanur village, to facilitate visits to Kodaikanal.
In 1863, Kodaikanal Lake was created by Sir Vere Hendry Levinge, who was then the Collector of Madurai District, by damming three streams flowing into a valley. He stocked the lake with local fish and brought Kodai's first boat from Tuticorin. He lived in Pambar House after his retirement. Pictures taken in Kodaikanal during the early years of its settlement show the area around the lake with very few trees and a marshy landscape. The man-made lake then had no bunds.
In 1890, the Kodaikanal Boat Club was formed. Today there are three boat clubs with a variety of boats available for hire. There is now an excellent 9 kilometers 5.6 mi lighted and paved sidewalk and bicycle path around the lake. There are strict municipal laws against construction near the lake.
The economy of Kodaikanal predominantly depends on 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 learning to deal with year-round tourism.
Plums, pears, chile peppers, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic and onions are cultivated by terrace farmers in surrounding villages. Most are trucked to other parts of India and some are sold in the local market. Popular tourist souvenirs include handcrafts, home-made chocolates, postcards and Eucalyptus oil. Due to its relatively unpolluted image, various locations within Kodaikanal are used for movie shootings as well. Some examples being Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar though depicted as Dehradun, the Tamil movie Guna, Manmadhan Ambu, Thenali etc.