Kodaikanal is a city in the hills of the Dindigul district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.[2] Its name in the Tamil language means "The Gift of the Forest".[3] Kodaikanal is referred to as the "Princess of Hill stations" and has a long history as a retreat and popular tourist destination.

The word Kodaikanal is actually an amalgamation of two words: Kodai and Kanal. And the Tamil language has at least four possible interpretations of the name "Kodaikanal". By pronouncing the first syllable of Kodaikanal with a long Tamil 'O', as in koe-dei, it means summer, whilst the final two syllables: kanal, in Tamil can mean to see, rendering 'Kodaikanal' as a 'place to see in Summer'. Kodaikanal is a summer forest, and it is also a place that the first missionaries to settle used as a refuge to escape the overbearing and mosquito-ridden heat of the plains - a place that they would have counted on seeing in the summer!

The earliest residents of Kodaikanal were the Palaiyar tribal people. The earliest specific references to Kodaikanal and the Palani Hills are found in Tamil Sangam literature of the early Common era.[8] Modern Kodaikanal was established by American Christian missionaries and British bureaucrats in 1845, as a refuge from the high temperatures and tropical diseases of the plains.[4] In the 20th century a few elite Indians came to realise the value of this enchanting hill station and started relocating here.

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.

Kodaikanal has a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate (Cfb/Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification). The temperatures are cool throughout the year due to the high elevation of the city.

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.[15] 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.