Lady Slipper Orchid
View of Unnamed Peaks drenched in Mist
View of AgasthyaMala Peak from Athirumala
Monday, 10 June 2013 22:14
An Adventure Pilgrimage
Western Ghats is known to be the most bewitchingly beautiful region in the province of South India. There are many mountain peaks that have been explored by thousands of tourists in the past years. Holiday makers seek to fulfill every deep urge of tourists and provide with an adventure tour that not only is comfortable and affordable but also is an experience of a lifetime. Western Ghats is a home to rich and deep green grasslands, gorgeous mountain peaks, rare species of flora and fauna along with a special collection of medicinal herbs. Tourists from every age group can unravel the mystic aura of the beautiful Western Ghats. One such location in the Western Ghats is Agastya Mala near Trivandrum in Kerala.
Situated at an altitude of 6,129 feet above sea level, it is a famous destination for pilgrims and a paradise for adventure tourists. It is one of the highest peaks in Kerala and is extremely popular for medicinal plants and herbs. About 2,000 different varieties of Ayurvedic medicinal treatment ingredients are found in the area. Tea gardens commissioned by British during their rule in India are commonly found at the base stations of the mountain at Bonacaud, Brimore and Ponmudi. The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is a home to the rarest collection of flora and fauna. The Reserve is mostly open for tourists in the month of January and February and prior permission from the forest department is required to visit this region.
Agastyamala offers its visitors the best combination of beautiful dense forests, calming grasslands, spectacular scenic beauty and an opportunity of coming face to face with wild animals. Major attractions around the area are the soothing Neyyar Dam (located at a distance of 23 kilometres from Bonacaud), the beautiful Karamana River, Neyyar River, shimmering Meenmutty Waterfalls, huge estates of Bonacaud and Ponmudi. You can add few more days to your trip and visit these nearby areas to get the true feel of Agastya Mala region and the marvellous Western Ghats.
The purple peak of Agastya Mala is also known as Agasthyarkoodam and is a pilgrimage centre for devotees of the Hindu sage Agastya. According to Hindu Puranas, there are seven sages (Saptarishi) and Sage Agastya is one among the Saptarishis. There is a statue of Sage Agastya at the peak of Agastya Mala and devotees are free to offer puja to the statue. It is believed that Tamil language originated as a boon from Sage Agastya.
This amazing trekking experience will start once you reach the capital of Kerala, Trivandrum. You will be driven to Bonacaud, a small village located at an altitude of 570 metres. This is the starting point of your trek. Agastya Mala peak is about 23 kilometres from Bonacaud but the trekking trail is about 35 kilometres. There are stunningly beautiful hills in this region including the Pandipathu and a few others. The fort like formation close to Bonacaud is another delight for trekkers and travellers. You will be camping at Athirumala which is located at an altitude of 1041 metres above the sea level. Residing in this gorgeous base camp will be one of the most exciting bits of your trekking experience. You can catch a view of a portion of Agastya Mala from here. The vertical rock-face beautifully covered by dense forests in its base. The noticeable hill named Viluvarai stands at the left of Agastya Mala. The junction of Agastya Mala and Viluvarai hills is called Pongalappara. The hill at the right of Agastya Mala is called as Sanghu Muthirai. There are other groups of hills around Agastya Mala including the Ainthuthalai Pothigai. The misty sight of these breathe-taking green hills is enough motivation to continue on your trail further.
The calming waterfalls, densely populated forests, mind-numbing grasslands, narrow pathways, adventurous activities, remarkable streams and rocky trails during this tour will entice your mind and relax your body. One visit to this place and you will forget the need for spas and salons. You will also pass through Pongalapara, situated at an altitude of 1,460 metres above sea level. Seetha Kulicha Kulam and Muttidippara are also famous stops along your way. The elevation of this trail is so steep that a trekker can feel his knees hitting his nose with every step he takes especially in the Muttidippara region.
The summit of Agastya Mala is located at a majestic altitude of 1,868 metres. The glory of standing at this great heights while being surrounded by the most spectacular creation of nature is truly a once in a lifetime moment. The peaks that surround Agastya Mala welcome you with open arms. Anjila Pothi is a notable group of mountains standing close to Agastya Mala peak. These five breathe-taking mountains located at an altitude of 1,800 metres never miss to captivate the by-standers.
There are many trekkers and holiday makers who have organised adventure games in the region. You can co-ordinate with our representative for details regarding some of the on-going thrilling adventure activities. There are plenty of rope activities which are not very tedious to the mind and body of adventure trekkers. Therefore, you can enjoy these activities without any sort of prior training.
The best time to visit Agastya Mala will range between the months of December to March. Depending on the permission and passes provided by the forest department, you can plan your trip. The weather conditions during October and November are usually pleasant and light rain showers are occasionally observed during the period. The winter season kick starts from November onwards but even though the overall temperature does not drop below 18 degree Celsius.
Campsites of this region are well maintained by the government. There are a few small forts with rooms and restrooms which can be used for resting at night. Few campsites might not have markings on them but the camps near Vazapathiyar stream and Karamanayar extremely helpful during your trip. Trekkers require food which will give them instant energy during this trip. There might be times when trekkers might feel loss of energy especially during steep climbs. Our representatives usually carry emergency food for such instances. A trip among the deepest mysteries of nature that will awaken your every sense organ is exactly what you are signing on for with us.
The view of distant hills covered in mist and a glimpse of the river skirting through the deep valley is really a feast to the eyes.
Trekkers are all geared up for yet another trekking season to Agasthyakoodam (or Agasthyamala) that will commence on January 13. In accordance with the tradition being followed by the Kani tribal community in the region, the season commences on the Makaravilakkku day, which falls on January 13 and will come to an end on Sivarathri, which falls on February 24. All the 4,200 passes on offer were sold within two hours after the commencement of the online booking. The number of trekkers will be restricted to 100 persons a day and women and children are not allowed to trek beyond Athirumala, 6 kms away from Agasthyakoodam peak as the tribes are performing ‘poojas’/rituals during the period.
5735 feet. It is the highest peak in Coorg/ or Kodagu district of Karnataka.
Dense tropical rain forest with moderate inclinations.
Easy to moderate, no prior experience required.
It is a must to listen to the sound of Chelavara falls. It is on the way towards hill from virajpet. On the base of hill there is Nalaknad palace built in 1792 by Dodda Veerarajendra and also Padi Igguthappa Temple, of the deity Igguthappa, is one of the Oldest temples of the Kodavs build by King Lingrajendra in 1810.
All seasons have their own charm. The change in the colours of meadows, woods and rains always makes it appealing to the eyes of a trekker.
During Monsoons it is advised to be prepared to tackle leeches on the way. Apart from it this region is a part of Shola forests and there has been moments of Elephants. So it is advised to be very careful for camping.
Western Ghats of Karnataka
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Peppara Wildlife santuary of Western Ghats ; State of Kerala.
1,868 m (6,129 ft) Above Sea level
Evergreen Moist deciduous forest with steep descents and ascents.
Food & Accommodation
Forest Huts to stay at Athirumala.
40 km Bonacaud to Bonacaud
Herbs & Medicinal plants including Arogyapacha, a medicinal herb, Flora and Fauna.
Mid December to March.
Entry to Santuary
Available from Forest Department ; Trivandrum.
There are natural streams and waterfalls on the trail quench your thirst. No water available at the summit of Agasthyarkoodam.
Carry your personal Basic First Aid kit.
By Air : Trivandrum Airport ; Kerala
By Road : Reach Trivandrum and drive 70 kms to Vithura to reach Bonacaud Estate
By Rail : Trivandrum central railway station