While the north has Himachal Pradesh and its notoriously famous hasheesh destinations, the south of India is also not devoid of fun. I am talking about Vattakanal, the land of magic mushrooms.
Vattakanal lies 7kms south of Kodaikanal in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu. Vatta in the Tamil language means circle, and Vattakanal derives its name from its horseshoe-like shape. The town sits at the edge of Palani hills which stand 2000 metres above the plain meadows of Periyur, in a semi-circular shape. Thus they block the clouds moving from Kerala further into Tamil Nadu and bring a high amount of rains to Vatakkanal and Kodaikanal. The heavy rain, in return, sets the fertile ground for a dense forest that is known to produce magical mushrooms. These mushrooms have psychedelic quality and attract tourists from different parts of the world and especially the Israelis.
Already got a reason to visit Vatakkanal? The following weekend itinerary will help you plan your journey to this beautiful, magical land:
Reach Vattakanal and check in to a beautiful homestay or hotel overlooking the valleys below. After relaxing for a while, you can begin exploring:
Altaf’s Cafe – The name Altaf’s Cafe is almost synonymous to Vattakanal. The cafe offers an elaborate Israeli cuisine and is the favourite destination of hipsters and insta-age millennials.
Pear Garden – Just next to Altaf’s Cafe is a large pear orchard where the clouds settle down. If you are lucky enough to visit in the fruiting season (August-September), do take a walk here.
Dolphin’s Nose – A little trek from the town will bring you to Dolphin’s Nose that stands tall among the hills with a steep drop below.
Echo Point– You can find the Echo Point a little further of Dolphin’s Nose. As the name suggests, you can shout out your name here, and the far-off mountain will reflect your voice.
Ensure that you return back in daylight.
Vattakanal Waterfalls – An hours walk from Vattakanal town will bring you to the waterfalls. These are a series of 7 cascades nestled in a beautiful forest. If you are lucky, you can spot mushrooms too.
Coaker’s Walk –Closer to Kodaikanal, the Coaker’s Walk is a half-kilometre paved street at the edge of a hill. You can have a wide view of settlements atop the hills of Kodaikanal here.
Kodaikanal Market – What could be fancy about a market? What if I say chocolates! Chocolate is made locally in Kodaikanal, and you can buy it in kilograms here. The market also has locally produced organic exotic fruits, vegetables and spices too.
There are many cafes and the regulars like Cafe Coffee day and Dominos in the Kodaikanal market.
By evening, take a bus for the onward journey.
How to reach:
The nearest airport to Kodaikanal is at Madurai (100 km). You can take a bus your cab to Kodaikanal from here. The journey takes about 4 hrs.
The nearest major airport is at Bangalore (420 km) . You can get a self-driven cab, taxi or a bus to Kodaikanal from here. The journey takes about 8 hrs.
Direct buses to Kodaikanal are available from Bangalore, Trichy, Madurai, Palani and Coimbatore,
You can either walk from Kodaikanal to Vattakanal or take a local cab.
There are no rail-routes connecting Kodaikanal.
Places to stay:
Some of the fascinating stays here are:
- Woodhouse Kodaikanal
- Vattakanal Homestay
- Eva’ Guest House
- Zostel Vattakanal
- Wildhome Backpackers’ Hostel
There are many small homestays too, which you can find offline.
Places to eat:
- Altaf’s Cafe
- Misbh’s Restaurant
- Jacobs Cafe
- Selva Restaurant
Go ahead, and plan your trip to Vattakanal on the weekend to beat the summer heat.