Local's Guide to Kodaikanal cover
Photo: R Serapandi, Cover design: Pia Alize Hazarika

Letter to the Readers, May 2022

Here is the first real edition of The Kodai Chronicle, in print! We have spent the last four months running a crowdfunding campaign, recruiting and hiring to transition from our test format as a team of volunteers to a team of part-time staff, and strategizing around format and approach.

Thanks to everyone who donated so generously, we have been able to plan for a one year run of print and digital, every two months. This is a valuable opportunity to reach more of you, while deciding how to make our venture viable, long-term.

There’s something for every kind of person who spends time in Kodai, in our May issue. For the perspective of the original inhabitants of this region, read about a Paliyan honey gatherer and learn about the rain rituals of the Palaiyars in a first-person account; for voices from an earlier Kodai, read about the American freedom fighter for Independence, Richard Keithahn, and then about Israel Bhooshi, who came to Kodai in the 1980s and created an alternative space for those excited by conservation and alternative living.

And, for the perspective of locals and tourists, read our ‘Local’s Guide to Kodai’, the theme of our issue and a gift from this hill station’s current residents to those who pass through, visit once, or keep coming back.

These pieces include popular spots as seen through intimate eyes as well as the Kodai that you might not immediately find; also, less-frequented Kodai, in Mannavanur, whose sheep are showcased on the cover, and Berijam, not on our lists but namechecked in ‘From Bombay Shola to Kilavarai’ (this guide also contains information for guides who can take you there).

In and around Kodai, you will still find a rich repository of natural wealth that must be protected. The sholas and grasslands around us were once rich with wildlife, sustained by natural vegetation and abundant water bodies. Over the years, these have dwindled thanks to commercial forestry, unchecked development, and poor management of tourist footfall. In 2013, the government of Tamil Nadu classified the Palani Hills as the Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary, thereby giving the area a modicum of protection from further degradation. We must do better.

At TKC, we aim to promote the kind of tourism that has minimal impact on fragile natural environments and focuses on providing nature-based experiences. We hope the experience we describe, a mix of fun, boundary-pushing adventure, and immersive learning, will give you a better understanding of this unique ecosystem–and why it is so important and natural to protect it. Thank you for reading, and please write in and tell us what you think!

Rajni George

Rajni George is an editor and writer at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre. She has worked at Penguin Random House, Granta and The Caravan. Her work has been published in The New Internationalist, The New York Times, and Mint Lounge.

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