February 15, 2015

The Devil's Kitchen or Guna Caves

Site Name: The Devil's Kitchen (popularly called as Guna Caves)
Site Type: Hill station, Cavern, Forest
Location:  Near Moir Point, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A unique tourist spot; a sad example for showcasing how a cinema can spoil natural heritage
Nearest Railway Station: Kodai Road - around 80 kms
Nearest Airport: Madurai - around 114 kms 
How to reach: Well connected by road from Dindigul and Madurai
Hotel: A lot of options are available in Kodaikanal and Dindigul
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian and non vegetarian; North Indian, Chinese, South Indian, etc. in Kodaikanal

I am writing this article with the deepest sad. It is about a unique natural heritage site called the Devil's Kitchen. It is located at the outskirts of Kodaikanal town and it can be reached from the popular Moir Point. The place, which remained little known and was rarely visited only by the hikers became very popular after a Tamil movie named 'Guna' was shot here in 1992 CE. Well, I generally feel happy when a little known site becomes popular. However, the story is different in this case.

The Devil's Kitchen is a group of caverns located between the three gigantic boulders called as the Pillar Rocks. Like many other sites in and around Kodaikanal, it was also discovered by an English Officer. An English Officer named B.S.Ward discovered this unique site in 1821 CE. It is situated at an altitude of 2230 meters. 

As the pillar shaped rocks protrude out of the cliff face, they are called as Pillar Rocks. These cliffs were covered by Shola trees and native grasses. Later, the Europeans and Americans introduced many non-native tree species to this area. Apart from the caverns, the gnarled Shola trees and their roots make this site as an interesting and favorite one. Nevertheless, the place remained unknown till early 1990s. Hardly, few hikers used to visit this site. The numerous caverns enclosed by dense vegetation was infact a dangerous trip. The highlight of the trip was to descend into the split between the third pillar rock and the main cliff face. It is the deepest cave which is actually called as the Devil's Kitchen. 

In 1992 CE, the Tamil movie named 'Guna' starring the popular actor Kamal Haasan was shot inside the Devil's Kitchen caves. It is believed that the film unit damaged and spoiled some areas. After the film was released, hundreds of tourists started visiting this place everyday. It became a popular tourist spot of Kodaikanal. Even, the people started calling this place as 'Guna Caves'. 

What more? The people started throwing rubbish in this beautiful forest and vandalized vegetation of the area. Few youngsters lost their lives in this cave. Ultimately, the deep narrow caves are closed to public forever. Now, we could only get a distant aerial view of the cave's entrance behind the iron bars. Whatever little vegetation and gnarled Shola trees that are still left are treat to the eyes.  

Happy travelling. 

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