Our History

Kodaikanal International School History

Kodaikanal International School has a rich history and tradition spanning well over a hundred years! 

In the early 1880s, there was a great need for an English-medium school in South India, due to an ever-increasing Christian mission community in the area. Having a school at a hill-station would allow the children of missionaries to escape the tropical diseases that were claiming the lives of so many, and provide a cool and open atmosphere that stimulated learning.

In the early months of the year 1900, a woman by the name of Margaret Eddy came to visit her son, who lived as a missionary in Tamil Nadu, India. Eddy was an educator and a remarkable administrator, who also had ample experience of India and the Indian culture. Seeing the need for a school, she decided to begin the process. She held the first Kodaikanal Conference on 1 June 1900, in which she established a Committee whose duty it was to find teachers and a building in which schooling would be held.

After commissioning The Highclerc Hotel as a building more than a year later, under the leadership of Mrs. Margaret Eddy, the Founding Principal, "Highclerc School" was opened to students on 1 July 1901. Mrs. Eddy served as principal of the school that was eventually named the Kodai School, without salary, from 1901 to 1905, when she was forced to return to America due to a sickness. 

By 1930, the school had fully expanded into a high-school accommodating students from preschool through grade twelve, and that same year, Tracy Manley became the first student to receive a High School Diploma from Kodai School. In 1944, Dayavu Dhanapal became the first Indian woman staff member to join the school. The school's boarding facilities and education program gave it a grand heritage, and a reputation for a fine education, allowing its students to return to their home countries to pursue professional education and higher studies.

In the 1970s, Kodaikanal School adopted the IB program, making it the first IB school in India, and only third in South Asia. Kodai School was later renamed Kodaikanal International School. Since then, the international community has expanded the horizons of students that enter through its gates.

Way back in 1974, our foundation document was created with this goal: “to develop Kodaikanal School into an autonomous, multicultural, multinational, Christian school in mission as a Christian service to children and parents of all communities of Indian and international society, providing an opportunity for a quality education coupled with a specially designed opportunity for deepened spiritual development.” As you can see, we were a truly international school right from the beginning! However, as our current successor long range planning document, “Design ’18, says:

‘What we continue to envisage is a residential school where students and staff of various nationalities, cultural backgrounds, and diverse experiences can learn from one another while they live and study together. The fact that the school is set in an Indian context provides a particular focus for the learning process.’

Kodaikanal International School Archives Website

Kodaikanal International School takes great pride in the rich heritage and history it has witnessed over the past 120 years. Much of that history can be attributed to the wonderful alumni, who have walked through the school gates. The history of the school is closely linked to the history of Kodaikanal, and KIS has played an important role in the formation of the Kodaikanal community and in documenting much of its early history. Indeed, many of the town’s well maintained historical buildings and homes are on the Highclerc campus, situated in the heart of town. 

The KIS Archives is happy to present the public collections of our school history to you on our special website.

Kodaikanal International School (KIS) Archives Website

Archives Website