Agasthyakoodam Trek is a detailed travelogue based on my trekking experience to Agasthyakoodam. Agasthyakoodam is one of the highest peaks in Kerala and is famous for it’s rare medicinal plans and herbs. This peak is part of the Western Ghats and towers to a height of 1868 meters above sea level. Agasthyakoodam (commonly known as Agastya Mala / Agasthyamalai / Agathiyar Malai and Agastyarkoodam) is also a famous pilgrimage center know after the sage Agasthya. The pilgrimage involves a trek of 56km (28km one side) from Bonacaud/Bonaccord making it a trekker’s paradise.
The main attractions of Agasthyakoodam are it’s evergreen forests, grasslands,rare herbs, biodiversity, mind blowing scenic beauty and the chance of seeing wild animals. Other places of tourist importance include Bonacaud Estate, Meenmutty Falls and Ponmudi .
Agasthyakoodam is located 50kms north east of Trivandrum and in-between Trivandrum and Ponmudi. It is accessible via road. KSRTC operates regular bus services from Trivandrum and Neyyatinkara to Bonacaud, from where the trek starts.The minimum duration for Agasthyakoodam Trek is 3 days, which needs to be completed in two phases.The first phase of Agasthyakoodam Trek is the trek to the base camp which is around 20 kilometres from the Forest checkpoint at Bonacaud, there is a small shelter (dormitory like arrangement which stands dreaming and gasping for some maintenance) where you can stay overnight, and a canteen where you would be served dinner and breakfast.Bathroom facilities exist and are well maintained. The second phase involves a steep and tiring trek of 10km to the peak of Agasthyakoodam and return to athiramalai an next day from Athiramalai camp back to the Forest checkpoint.
Agasthyakoodam is open to public only from January to April.You need to take prior permissions from the wild life warden’s office in PTP Nagar, Trivandrum for the trek to Agasthyakoodam, by submitting an application form along with photostat copies of two valid ID cards and an amount of INR350/person. They have a limit to the number of passes they issue an year for Agasthyakoodam Trek, so make sure that you contact the wildlife warden’s office in advance.Females are not allowed for this trek /pilgrimage. For more information call up assistant wildlife warden’s office at +91-471-2360762.
Trivandrum-78km | Bonacaud-28km | Vithura-198km | Quilon-123km | Palode-56km | Nedumangad-33.6km | (This includes the trek distance of 28kms).
The main activities you can indulge in are adventure, photography and trekking. You can also spend time in the small streams at the base camp.
- Food /Snacks / Chocolates (Take care not to litter the place with food stuffs and plastics. Alcohol is banned and you can get into trouble if you are carrying it)
- Salt (To fight leaches, though I dint have any issues)
- Thick socks and shoes
- Bed sheets and towels for your stay in the base camp
- Cap/Sunscreen lotion
OUR TREKKING EXPERIENCE IN AGASTHIYAR PEAK
my first expeirnce fromTamilnadu route 1985
I have been treking to Agasthiyar peak trek from 1985.My first trek was throuth Tamilnadu route from papanasam upper dam.We need to cross the dam to the otherside by boat and start the trek.We have to reach first inzhikudi and from there start to trek and we stayed there in estate and started our trek,The final day even the kannis missed the route.So with great diffiucltly we reched a open place from dense forest and it was getting dark.We could see the peak .but we were from the wrong side from the peak.So our leader pradipna told now we we have to climp from he other side of the rock to reach the peak.,First estate owner vijayavel mama started the climb.The rock was 60 -70 degree incllned and very slippery.Mama was just trying to keep the foot on the rock and there was no place for hand to grip.I was only 22 yrs that time.My first trek and was thinking if i could make it.So some how mama was helped by kannis to climb and now it was my turn.It was about 200 meter very steep and our leader pradipna told ,now naren its ur turn to climb.So i started to climb in the slipper rock,just i started to crawl in the rock.it was very steep and dangerous.Pradipa shouted and told Naren dont look back and jsut go ahead.Just a blink i turned back a second and it was a very dangerous climb i could understand.From there i did not turn back.just concentrated my mind only to climb frong inch by inch and somehow i dont know how i reached up the peak,Totally adventorous trek.Nite it was horrible to stay in the peak.We had some fire wood and had fire to give some warmth,It was very cold in the peak and breeze was also fast.I could see the tuticorin light house from there.it was memorable nite.Morning we offered prayers for agasthiya saint and started down from the peak.We were almost sliding down in steep rocks.we heard noices of elephants eating bamboo and all.By 8pm we reached the other side of papanasam dam and it was pitch dark.Some how by boat we went to other side of the dam and reached back home.Very adventerous trek.GAve me a lot confidence to do things in future.Life is always insecured anytime.We dont know what happens next minute.Let us take a lot of calcualted risks and enjoy the life with little pain also away from the comfort zone.These treks gives a lot of strong mind to us to face any situation in life.This was my first successful trek which helped me to go a lot of treks all over india.At present now agasthiyar koodam trek can be done throught only Kerala.
AGASTHIYAR KOODAM TREK FROM KERALA ROUTE
Usually we plan for 3 days trek to AGasthiyar peak.We travel from Tuticorin which takes about 6-7hours and we get some of our freinds near thiruparapu and continue to reach before 10 nite to banacaud forest.There we have little rest at nite,We try to start as early as 6.00 from the Banacaud and our first point is a pillayar kovil and we offer our prayers .
The trek is up and down little.We reach our first water point within 1hrs.Normally we take a short break with some snacks and take a fast move to the 2nd water point where we dont stop and continue. Our leader pradipna who motivates us all
We stop at 3rd water point and we take some time to take our breakfast and loosen our shoes and feel the water in our foot.AFter a short 15 min brake we continue our trek to a grass valley and its open to sun and the trek starts litte tiring.AS we walk in the grass lands we can feel a lot of heat of son and we trek slowly through grass lands.
Agasthiya peak view from distance during trek
There are 2 uphills and its really tiresom with very little shades on the way.AS we finsih the sandy uphills we slowly reach a place where we tell it in our name “MUttu thatti” means its a steep climb gradualy and continous sleep and inside evergreen forest with shady trees.But i really love these place so naturaly steep and going gradual for about 45 minutes.It is always move normal slow but without much rest so that we can reach a junction up.Normally we have a rest in the junction and its a great relaxed feeling.We know that the Athiramali camp is near to us.
From the junction the trek is very normal and gradullay up and down and it amost takes 30 min to reach the Athiramalai camp.Before we reach the camp we offer prayers to tree .Then we have our late lunch and relax at athiramali camp.Now actually athiramai camp is in repair and alternative temperory sheds have been put now.There is toilet and bathroom facilites..
Next day we Start out trek to agasthyar peak early by 6-7am..Carry just a bottle of water and better to take a raincoat.It is the most diffiuclt part of trek,Its about 8km.First the trek starts with up and down and we cross a water point.It is advisable to take water.AS we move from the waterpoint we reach bamboo forest,we need to trek with big rocks.Withi 2 hrs trek we reach a rock point where we can see athiramali camp and see agasthyar peak also.
Agasthiyar peak view from pongalam parai
From there its gradually steep and shady under bamboo.The path is very small.Then we reach the kerala-tamilnadu border point.AFter making a little climb we reach a open point where if there is good rains we get water.Then we need to climb a little in rocks for about 30 minutes.We can get good view in this open spot.WE get network connection also in this area and we can talk to our closed ones.
AS we move through the rocks we then reach a place called pongal parai (name given to our group) where we take rest and have breadfast of some fruits and bread.normally we carry jam and milkshake and with bread its really great food.Then starts the difficiult part of trek with slowly becoming steep and adventerous with mostly rocks.AS we move the path becomes steeper and steeper and its very shady.We start to feel tired.take only sip of water,dont gulp.Then we reach a rock where we take rest and we have given a name rasna parai (our name).
rasna parai(our name)
General we start to tire in that and we know the trek is still going to be more adventerous as we move on,Within 15 to 30 min we reach a rock.just a view of seeing a big thread and steep rock many become panic.Every year i know i would be going to that slipper rock a open place.Mostly i crawl in the rock slowly or about 10 mintes to come up of the rock,But its advisible u can use rope or if we are confident we can walk carefully up also,But iam used to the crawling in rock.Then within short trek we teach another steep rock and ther is also a rope and again i crawl in rock continoslu not seeing the steep part from back.Just we have to push of the way which is comofrtable to us.It is not going to be easy. climb by rope
Once the rock is climbed a little relief and we get ready for the final climb to the peak,its more steeper.As usual more crawl in rocks,i get panic when i see steep rocks,some trek very normally.Some years i get stranded even in crawling,since its a very steep climb.But all these efforts have a great end reaching the peak and just we fell in the feet our agasthya statue,its a rare blissful experince reaached peak.I cannt explain throgh words,its a heavenly feeling.Many readers may feel why these fellow having so panic in climbing in rocks why again and again is doing it.Tthat the passion towards nature and self confidence that we will reach our goal.
steep climb in waindy and rainy conditions
Inthalai pothigai taken from agasthya peak
view from the agasthya peak
Then we offer prayers,clean the area,it takes a long time to dispose bottles and plastic papers.As a part of the trek we do this cleaning work.Who will do this work?We all as team take time to clean the area first and start preparing for the pooja,we bring flowers,fruits and all. we start with singing songs and sloga and do pooja.We spend 2-3 hours depending upon the rush and climatic condiitons.Some time there will be heavy wind and rains and that time we cannt spend more time.
prayers in agasthya peak
Then is the down aprt of the trek.I continue to do my crawling in rock slowly ,Its better use ropes in rocks like in rappling to come down,Its also a wonderful experince,It takes another 3-4 hours to reaach back Athiramalai camp.WE stay in the camp and next day start to mvoe to Banacaud.It takes about 5-7hrs to reach back to banacaud,Normally final areas are Elephant belt and we need to be careful in that areas.2 Years back jsut 15 ays before our trek 2 people were killed by elephants in this belt who has tried flash on to take pics and ended in fatal death.
In Athiramalai camp t
Then we reach Banacud forest office,Then we go to the estate part,have a nice bath and start our journey back home.Hope with blessing of AGasthy still many times if there is gods grace we shall trek and get the blessings of AGasthya.AGasthya is immortal and always he guides in each part of trek in differnt forms as people who help and many more.And wishing you all with best wishes
BE BLESSED BY THE DIVINE