Visiting Sai Baba Ashram at Kodaikanal
This page last updated:30 April 2011
History of Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal is a former Christian Mission Station transformed to a famous hilltop resort that usually has rain ten months of the year. This is called off-season. Season is generally April-June, and that's when most tourists visit. (That's when the Hotels and Accommodations put the prices up.) Kodaikanal is a lovely place, free of dust and mosquitos, and has plenty of tourists attractions and places to visit!
Boathouse on Lake Road, Kodaikanal - en route to Sai Sruti
Here we will give you an overview of visiting Sai Baba, and some important information to get you well prepared!
Generally, Sai Baba resides at Prashanti Nilayam at Puttaparthi. This is in South India, approximately three hours drive from Bangalore.
During the hot summer months in Puttaparthi, (Rayalseema area is one of the driest areas of South India) Sai Baba generally travels from Puttaparthi for Bangalore, where there is an ashram located at Whitefield, some 27 kilometres out of the city of Bangalore.
Occasionally, Sai Baba visits a small residence called Sai Sruthi, located in the hill resort town of Kodaikanal, which is quite some distance south of Bangalore in the adjoining state of Tamil Nadu.
Main street which goes towards Sai Sruti
Travelling to Kodai
The only direct way into Kodaikanal is by road. It is possible to take a train from Bangalore Majestic to Kodai Road Railway station, and then travel by bus.
View of Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal is connected by road with Chennai (520-km), Ooty (264-km), Trichy (197-km), Coimbatore (175-km), Kumili (160-km), and Madurai(120-km). Additional buses ply during the season. Taxis and vans are available for local transportation. There are no auto-rickshaws in Kodaikanal, and taxi fares are set by local authority. All must pay to enter the National Park entrance, some kilometres out of Kodaikanal.
It is a hilltop town, and the roads narrow and winding. Those travelling for the first time, best not look down when looking out the window!!!
Darshan at Kodaikanal, 2005
Planes fly to Madurai and Coimbatore. Then a two hour taxi journey.
By Rail ...
The nearest railway stations are the Kodai Road Railway Station (80-km) and the Palani Railway Station (64-km).
Luxury Buses ply between Bangalore Majestic and Kodaikanal. Bus travel takes approximately 12 hours.
Taxis from Whitefield to Kodai will cost between Rs 6000-8000/- and you would be advised to share a taxi if you do this. Travel time to Kodaikanal would be approximately 11 hours.
It is never known in advance if Sathya Sai Baba will visit Kodaikanal in any year. Kodai is cool at night, oft times raining overnight, and generally mild, up to 23 degrees in the daytime. Fog, clouds and rain can be expected on any day at anytime.
Residence of Sathya Sai Baba, Kodaikanal, called Sai Sruti
IF Sathya Sai Baba visits Kodaikanal, then the following are suggested:
umbrella, thin light jumper, thin winter clothes as you would wear in a sub-tropical winter, thin plastic macintosh like that you can get in Woolworths or Wal-mart for $5 to have in case of rain.
Kodaikanal is flat where Swami's house is, there is one driveway to walk up (steep), then flat sitting area for darshan. If you were to stay in town at the Hilltop Hotel, Carlton Hotel or around the corner from Swami's place at the Sterling Hotel, then it is largely flat walking to Sai Sruit.
One entrance to Sai Sruti, very steep walk
The remainder of Kodaikanal is hills, hills, hills and incredibly narrow roads. A taxi to darshan is the usual practice if staying in one of these other Hotels. Be mindful that Seva Dal or Police block the road approximately 300 metres away from the darshan lines, and you will have to walk the remainder distance...
Lake Road, Kodaikanal. Travel this to get to Sai Sruti
There are Western Hotels at Kodaikanal with charges somewhat similar to Hotels in western countries. The top two are the Carleton and Sterling, (Rs2200/-) standard Hilton Hotel type accommodation. Hilltop is very good and somewhat less, approx Rs800/- to Rs1100/- per night.
There are many other hotels and guesthouses available in Kodaikanal. Many devotees group together and hire a guesthouse. Here is one suggestion:
Lilly's Valley Resort on Sivanadi Road (ph. 04542-240558). Lilys Valley Website There's a wonderful kitchen that can cater to Western taste buds. We have our own water source (spring) that trickles (or flows depending on the season) into a holding tank and that's the water that's pumped to the kitchen and rooms. We drink that water boiled. Here is a comment from the owners of this resort:
In the days that Swami used to come every year for weeks, our hotel felt like an ashram filled with devotees in satsang and singing bhajans and sharing taxis to and from darshan (it's about a 8 min ride to darshan). Swami has taken two different letters from me requesting that He personally visit Lilly's Valley and although He hasn't physically as of yet, He surely visits. We had a singing group formed in 1997 of devotees staying in Lilly's Valley and He allowed us to sing on May 4th in the afternoon. Lilly's Valley is an enclosed, three acre land which feels like a garden or park.
Sathya Sai Baba Darshan, Kodaikanal
Darshan is in the mornings; you can walk from the township, around the lake to the darshan queue, which is on Lake Road itself. Men line up on the footpath adjacent to the lake, Ladies line up on the other side of the gate, on the grassy side of the road. Ladies often sit in chairs by the roadside. Of late, seva dal have stalls either side of the gate, and as you pass, you put your shoes in and receive a chit.
Sathya Sai Baba Sign at Sai Sruti - the green colour is the canopy for rain
There are only 4 lines each side at Kodai, and numbers are in fact given out. Men on cycles or young boys with hot c canteens walk up and down the lines selling small plastic cups of tea. You can expect to stand in line up to about 8AM or thereabouts when the gates are opened and the lines called in. Lines generally begin to be formed around 6AM, and there is either silence of jollity in the lines ...
Sathya Sai Baba Darshan at Sai Sruti - you can see the green the canopy for rain
Like Puttaparthi and Brindavan, there is a small security check as you pass the gate; therafter, it is a dash or a sedate walk up the STEEP driveway, to the darshan shelters. Men to the left of the front of the house, ladies to the right, guests along the far right wall. Men must pass in front of the ladies to reach their allocated darshan area.
Sathya Sai gives Darshan, Kodaikanal
There are chairs for those who need. Darahan is a small affair under a simple canopy, and ladies also sit in an island in front of the garden.
Sathya Sai gives Darshan, Kodaikanal
Unlike Puttaparthi or Whitefield, all remain inside the compound, seated for darshan until its full completion. If individuals or groups are called for interview, all remain seated. By this time, pullovers, shawls and all the extra coverings are removed as the sun is out and quite warm. When Interviews are complete, Baba emerges, and goes inside the main building; thereafter, darshan is over. Sometimes prasad is distributed during darshan.
Sathya Sai gives Darshan, Kodaikanal
After morning darshan, Swami sometimes goes for a drive around Kodaikanal and environs; perhaps a leisurely drive, perhaps a visit to an orphange, or to a home, or to another venerable place. Sometimes, to a picnic! In past years, one would see a procession of cars leaving Sai Sruthi perhaps half an hour or an hour after darshan, with Swami's car in the middle.
View of Sathya Sai Baba Residence Sai Sruti at Kodaikanal
Afternoon Darshan commences with lines at approximately 2.30 or 3PM. As before, all line up around Lake Road. There is a small bhajan mandir on the top and right as you reach the top of the STEEP drive; if you see people going in, follow, for often there are spiritual talks, sometimes a divine discourse, or bhajans in that small mandir. For Afternoon Darshan, Swami may walk along the verandah of the residence, even if it is raining. From time to time, Swami has delivered divine discourses from the Verandah of the residence, to those outside.
Sathya Sai gives Darshan, Kodaikanal
General Information - Kodaikanal
Should you choose to visit Kodaikanal, then there is no ashram, you will need to organise your own accommodation and meals, and transport to Sai Sruti. When darshan is not on, you may wish to take in the sights of Kodaikanal. It is a tourist destination, and has beautiful sights, as has been seen by photos of Swami and students taking the delights of this location in years gone by.
Kodaikanal in the Tamil language means "The Gift of the Forest". Kodaikanal was established in 1845 as a refuge from the high temperatures and tropical diseases of the plains.
Main Street and Markets, Kodaikanal
The town of Kodaikanal sits on a plateau above the southern escarpment of the upper Palni 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 circumference man-made lake.
Looking across Lake Kodaikanal towards Sai Sruti
The economy of Kodaikanal is predominantly run by tourism. 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.
There are at least seven retail bank branches and five automated teller machines (ATM) in Kodaikanal. The Bank of India has a branch and ATM at S.G.J Thangadurai Building, Anna Salai. The Canara Bank has a branch and ATM at CLS book shop complex, Anna Salai. The Central Bank of India branch is at M M Street, Law's Ghat Road, Perumalmalai. The Indian Bank has a branch and ATM at Anna Salai. The State Bank of India has a branch at Anna Salai and also has an ATM on Lake Road, outside Kodaikanal International School
Anna Salai, Kodaikanal
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.
La Sallete Church, Kodaikanal
Places of Interest
Coaker's Walk, 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the bus-stand, constructed by Lt.Coaker in 1872, is a 1-kilometre (3,300 ft) paved pedestrian path running along the edge of steep slopes on the southern side of Kodai. Entrance fee to the walkway is nominal and it is open all year.
Bear Shola Falls, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the bus-stand, is a tall waterfall in a Reserve forest. The final approach to this quiet area is a gently climbing foot-path.
Green Valley View, 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) from the bus-stand and near the golf course, has an excellent panoramic view of the plains and a sheer drop of 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) overlooking the Vaigai Dam to the south. The stairway leading up to it is highly commercialized and lined with rows of shops to tempt tourists.
Pine forests: In 1906, with a view to growing valuable timber, Mr. Bryant started the Kodaikanal pine plantations in the south-west of Kodaikanal.
Kodaikanal Solar Observatory 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the bus-stand on Observatory Road, at 2,343 metres (7,687 ft) is the highest location near Kodai. The first observations were commenced here in 1901. It is open daily to the public during peak season, and a few hours each Friday the rest of the year.
Pillar Rocks, Kodaikanal
Pillar Rocks, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the bus-stand, is a set of three giant rock pillars which stand 122 metres (400 ft) high. Managed by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, The viewpoint can be crowded but is not commercialized. There is an excellent public garden adjacent to the viewpoint.
STD Code : 04542
120 Km From Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
Usual time of Bhagavan's visits:
Late March - Early May
Sai Sruti Entrance, Lake Road, Kodaikanal