Trekking in Agasthyarkoodam

Agasthyarkoodam or Agasthyamala is a pilgrimage centre in Kerala. It is 1868 metres high peak within Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Western Ghats of South India. There exists a belief that a Hindu sage Agasthya used to do penance in the hill. Hence the hill got the name ‘Agasthya Mala’. In the Hindu Puranas, it is said that, the sage possessed divine powers to drink entire oceans. Here you can offer pujas yourself before the full-sized statue of Agasthya at the peak of the hill. [caption id="attachment_1301" align="alignnone" width="276"]agasthya Agasthyarkoodam[/caption] Pilgrims can reach the peak of Agasthya Mala only by trekking. This is one of the highest peaks in Kerala and is also famous for its rare medicinal plants and herbs. The Agasthya Mala pilgrimage involves a trek of 56 kms from Bonacaud. I along with my friends planned a trek to Agasthya Mala last January. The first thing we needed for our trek was a pass or a permission letter from Wildlife Warden, Forest Department. We got our passes from the office of the Wildlife Warden at PTP Nagar, Trivandrum. The passes cost Rs 500/- per person excluding food. As the trekking path is very dangerous and tiresome only people who are physically fit except women and children can get passes. We were accompanied by a forest guide appointed by the Eco-Development Committee. The trekking path was all surrounded by eye-catching scenery, meadows and streams, and small trees clinging to the hillsides. With the help of the forest guide we could recognize some of the rare medicinal plants and herbs in the lower elevation of the peak. The trek duration was two days with two phases for completion. The first phase ended in a base camp at around 20kms trek from the Forest Checkpoint, Bonacaud. There was a small dormitory like arrangement in the base camp. From the base camp we could see the peak of Agasthya Mala. We were served with dinner and also had a good sleep. The next day morning after having breakfast we started our second phase of trekking. The second phase was a little more tiresome as we had to trek through a steep path for about 10kms to reach the peak. Even though the trek was tiresome we enjoyed watching the most beautiful views of the forest and the sunrise. The beauty of the nature we witnessed there was beyond any description. We had to crawl through the bushes and slide past the rocks to make our way ahead. After two and a half hours of walk we reached a point where the trek path ends. From there we had to do adventurous rock climbing at an inclination of 80 degrees with the help of ropes dropped down from the peak. [caption id="attachment_1302" align="alignnone" width="300"]agasthya1 Sage Agasthya Statue[/caption] After completing the adventurous rock climbing we reached the peak of Agasthyarkoodam. There was a statue of sage Agasthya. We offered prayers and performed rituals as our co-trekkers did. We got a bird’s eye view of the valley from the peak. That was really amazing. After having enough rest we started our trek back to the Forest checkpost. Our trek back was a bit easier compared to the trek to reach the peak. Agasthya Mala is a place where nature is at its best. This was really a life time trek for us.

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