A tripper’s guide to Kodaikanal: 10 things you need to know

It’s a well-known fact that Kodaikanal is famous for it’s magic mushrooms. And during season time, you can quite literally pick them yourself from the forest! Here are some things you need to know if you are going for this reason. You don’t want to land up there and end up getting scammed, poisoned, or stuck in tourist traps! Because Kodaikanal can be an incredibly beautiful experience if you do it right. And remember to subscribe to my website for more articles and information on these topics.

How To Score

So it’s pretty easy to score mushrooms from Kodaikanal town centre. You can ask people, or people may even come up and offer you them. But due to police patrol in the main town area and also Vattakanal, you have to be very careful. However, there are a number of scam artists trying to pass off fake mushrooms as psychedelic ones; so the first tip is – NEVER score from someone you don’t know! It’s a both a risk and also a complete waste of money! If you need to score from a person, then the best way is to go through contacts of people who have first-hand experience. Who can vouch for the quality of the contact. Otherwise, you are most likely in for a disappointing outcome.

Be Safe Plucking

There is no doubt the best way to get magic mushrooms is to pluck them yourself from the forest. There is no police issue with this, if you just pluck them and trip in the forest. And there is no middle man or drug dealer trying to scam you with ridiculous prices. HOWEVER – this is also dangerous if you cannot identify which mushrooms are psychedelic and which are poisonous. So the second tip is – do NOT simply pluck and eat mushrooms from the forest just because you think they are magic or look similar. Always, always take local guidance from someone who knows their fungi; or someone who has real experience plucking them. Also – many people trip on Muscarias, those white and red toadstools that look so trippy. DO NOT just pluck and eat these as they are extremely poisonous. There is a way that people process them, but still I would not recommend scoring these. Just don’t poison yourself. You just want to trip.

The Right Timing

The monsoon period is generally considered the best for magic mushrooms. They grow shortly after rain, in grassy areas commonly near cattle dung. They spring up after the rain and then disappear quickly after! So the best time to pick is the very next day after it has rained. The best season for rain is just before winter, from August to November (this is also the peak season for marijuana harvesting in Himachal). Having said that – remember that rain is TOTALLY UNPREDICTABLE! Yes that’s right! If you just land up there by chance in October when it’s meant to be season time, there is absolutely no guarantee you’ll get to pluck. Both times I went there this year (October and November) I did not get to pluck myself. So your best bet is to check the weather forecast (which can still be unpredictable) or ask someone local. If it hasn’t rained in a few days and it’s meant to rain, you have a good chance. Make sure you take a local guide for plucking, like someone who knows the spots and how to identify the psychedelic ones.

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Get Out And Explore

I guess the majority of mushroom tourists in Kodaikanal stay right there or head to Vattakanal which is also fully commercialized. Personally I could never trip there (though I don’t know if there are some cool spots inside Vattakanal as people do report good things). But for me, that’s not ACTUAL nature. When I say nature I mean wild and dense forest. I mean expansive green views. I do not mean clusters of guesthouses, people that invade your space, or rando tourists. If you are a peaceful person like me, you’ll have a much better time if you go to the more secluded areas like the villages above Kodaikanal (Poombarai and Mannavanur being the main ones). Airtel connection is really weak in both places so be prepared to cut off from the world. Poombarai is a really beautiful village with a 3000+ year old temple bang in the middle with some super super potent vibes (some pretty mysterious things happened there when I visited with my mum). So if you are going all the way there to trip – do it right. Find a good spot. Get first-hand recommendations from actual trippers. Don’t settle for booking.com chewed up shit.

Fresh versus Dry

If you are scoring from a dealer, then fresh mushrooms will always be more expensive than dry mushrooms. And even if the dealer calls them fresh, if it hasn’t rained in a few days they will still be pretty dry. If it hasn’t rained since a while the mushrooms will be more expensive too (I wouldn’t pay more than 600rs for a dozen fresh ones). You might have heard that fresh mushies are more potent than dry ones, which is in general correct. But whether or not the dry ones are worth buying depends on how they are dried. In Kodi, a lot of the dry mushrooms you’ll get are actually really mild because they haven’t been dried properly (they are not meant to be dried in the sun which is what most people do). So remember that with dry mushrooms you might need double or even triple the amount to trip properly. (The best is to try a few first, see the potency, and then double the dose after half an hour if you feel like it).

Have Enough Time

If you are planning to score, trip, and come back all in a weekend then make sure you have at least 2 nights. Otherwise, you won’t actually get the full experience of disconnecting from what you normally know and having an immersive psychedelic trip. It is actually pretty hectic getting to Kodaikanal on a 10-hour bus from Bangalore. You need at least that day to score if you are scoring (or plucking), and then you need the next day to trip (a mushroom trip is on average 6-8 hours), and then the next day to enjoy the afterglow and then make your way back down to Kodaikanal to catch the bus back. With one night you will be terribly tight for time – I did this in October and ended up eating the fresh mushrooms I got at 3pm when my bus was at 7pm! But I really wanted to connect with the forest on my own and didn’t have an extremely high dose. So I walked into the forest when they started coming on, and then made it back to the bus, tripping in my little bunk. Don’t be me. Lol.

The Proper Dosage

The dealers generally tell you to take one dozen fresh mushrooms for a proper trip. Now, whether or not you will trip depends so much on what type of mushroom it is, how fresh it is, and also on your own physical constituency. It’s not like LSD that you know the blot is e.g. 250 mics. For example, the most recent time I went I took 6 ‘fresh’ ones (they were still pretty dry). When it kicked in I realized it was quite mild, I then took another 6. And then another four a little afterwards. And though I was tripping at that point, there were no visuals and it was mostly internal. It was still a beautiful experience, but with those particular ones I would have taken maybe 2-3 dozen. On the other hand when I went the month before I had only 6-7 really fresh ones and it was actually more intense. The thing is that you never actually know. So the best is to first take a few, see how they hit you, and then take more depending on your feeling. Always go with your intuition when it comes to psychedelics.

The Legality Situation

Quoting an article from the Times of India with a quote from a narcotics officer: “Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin which is banned in India but we can’t arrest people for having the mushroom because it hasn’t been declared illegal.” Though people have been arrested for possessing magic mushrooms, they could not be punished because the mushroom is not actually illegal; (it’s a bloody mushroom for fuck’s sake! We’ve been using them since the beginning of civilization, and in fact fungi even outdate humans!). Having said this, remember that India is CORRUPT as hell. So police will use it as an excuse to get money out of you. There is a police checkpoint in Vattakanal, and police hover around Kodai town as well. So don’t just walk around in the open with mushrooms. And be sure you hide it properly if you are bringing them with you. Legal or illegal, you do not want to have to deal with the local police when it comes to this in India. Period.

Disconnect For Real

The psychedelic experience is something seriously profound and can actually change your life. It can heal you from things that have long held you back, and help you process difficult emotions. Having said this, the way you do it is extremely important. If you are taking magic mushrooms for the first time you might already have heard of ‘set, set, and setting.’ In short, be sure that you are in a comfortable setting that you feel safe in (the forest is the best because you can actually connect), be around people that you are fully comfortable to express yourself with, that have a good vibe and are not fake. And make sure you are internally prepared for the substance. Don’t take strong doses of psychedelics when you are depressed or otherwise. (Psychedelics can be powerful healers for depression and other things but that’s an entirely different topic of discussion). So don’t take the substance lightly. Don’t just sit in your room with a few beers and think you’re going to have a good time. If you want to actually come back with something different – if you want to know the magic for what it is, then immerse yourself. Submit yourself. Be in the natural environment of the mushroom, so it can show you all it knows. Take a full dose and merge into nature (with full safety). Personally I find mushrooms a lot trippier than LSD and the 10 grams I once took in Netherlands was probably the most intense psychedelic experience of my life (though I can’t compare). To read about the difference between LSD and mushrooms when microdosing in day-to-day life check out my other article here.

Storage And Expiry

The best way to store fresh mushrooms is to keep them in some local honey. Make sure you don’t have a huge box of honey with the few mushrooms because it can dilute the potency. If you have just plucked or scored fresh mushrooms, try and eat them as soon as possible (given you have sorted your trip scene), and otherwise store them in honey for when you want to trip. There are conflicting opinions about when the mushrooms are no longer suitable to eat. Dealers have told me they can be stored like that for a year (and dried ones can be stored for up to six months to a year). But in all reality, I would consume dry ones within a few months and fresh ones as soon as possible. If anything, the potency reduces over time. So personally I wouldn’t store them more than 2-3 months.

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