Trekking To Agasthyakoodam

Agasthyakoodam is one of the highest peaks in Kerala. This peak is a part of the Western Ghats and has a height of 1868 meters above sea level. It is a famous pilgrimage center after the sage Agasthya. It 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.




Agasthyakoodam is located 50kms from 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 two 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 22 kilometres from the Forest checkpoint at Bonacaud, there is a shelter where you can stay overnight, and a canteen where you would be given food. Bathroom facilities exist and are well maintained. The second phase involves a steep and tiring trek of 6km to the peak of Agasthyakoodam.

Agasthyakoodam is open to public 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 INR 500/person. Females are not allowed for this trek /pilgrimage.

I heard about the Agasthyakoodam in 2006 and was desperate to do a trekking. But due to time constraints I was unable to do it. I used to read lots of travelogues and my intention to do a trekking over there increased. It was during 2010 when i did a solo drive to Manjolai Hills, i saw the parts of Agasthyakoodam from there. It was breath taking.

Finally the dream came true when one of my collegue made a plan to go there. We applied for a pass in Jan 2014. Our slot to trek was scheduled on 22 Feb. So during the one month gap I did walking in the morning daily for about 6 kms just to make sure i can walk. I never had a habit of walking since i was used to drive car/bike. So in the one month my legs were almost got fit for the trekking.

So the D-Day arrives. We planned to go as a team of 8 members from our office. At the last minute one member has to cancel the trip due to some personal commitment. Our Boss joined us.

The team members were Thomas, Anil, Deepak, Vinu, Binoop, Jayadev, Hari and ofcourse MYSELF.

Day 1

We arranged a Innova to take us till Bonacaud estate. We started at 4:30 PM from Karyavattom, Trivandrum. After picking up members on the way we finally reached Bonacaud camp at 7:45 AM. We had breakfast from the canteen and we were all set to trek. We bought lunch from the canteen. Our passes were checked with the ID proof given during the registration. We had our baggage checked completely as carrying Liqour/Cigrettes are completely banned. We were assigned to a guide. The guide keeps on changing for every 3 kms where there is a camp located. We were the first batch for the day.

1-2-3-4 here we go.






Initial part of trekking is of ease. The path laid is easy to walk for some distance. It was full of trees. Slowly it began to change. I knew that the worst part is yet to come.







We had to take small breaks in between refreshed ourselves with sweets and fruits. We were not in a hurry as we got a time to reach the base camp before 5 PM. On the way we found a water stream.







We took a small shower over there. The moment when we dipped our legs, the pain in our legs were gone. We found lots of water streams on the way. Water in these streams were pure. By looking at the places i was thinking that God created the earth today. it was all fresh and pure.













Around 12:30 we reached in another water stream. We had our lunch over there. We took rest for 30 min. Till now were were travelling under the shadow of the trees. The next part is trekking in open grass lands.










Now the real test starts. The path was full of rocks in the way. I was swetting like a hell. At this point of time, i was thinking why did i come for this trekking. It was better that i could sit in my home and play with my son... hahaha.. But still i was thinking that this trekking is once in a life time. The path got steeper when we progressed. We saw some people who were returning back. They were saying that the base camp is near. But we kept on walking and nothing came.







inally the grass lands began to disappear and we can feel a cool breeze. We took some break and again started. Now the path got worse. It got steeper and steeper. At one point of time, i had to take rest after every 10-15 steps. The climate in this area is awesome. Sun light never touches the ground, it was really cool atleast of 20 deg.








We walked further and came in normal path. And in no time we reached the base camp at 4:30 PM.













It is the place where we have to take rest for the night and again trek to the peak the next day. We could see the peak from the camp. Legs were paining like a hell as we had travelled for 22 kms. We got a shelter to stay for the night. We ordered kanji for the night and went to a stream near by for a bath. we spent around 1 hour in water refreshed our selves. we had kanji and then ordered the breakfast and slept.

It was around 11 pm during our sleep we heard some people screeming. We initially thought some wild animals might have entered in to the shelter. the forest guards came running and it turned out to be a King Cobra. One guy got scared bcos of the scream he climbed in the top. it was a fear of life. the forest guards made the snake to turn into the forest. Even though we did not see it we had a relief.

Day 2

woke up in the morning at 6 am. after completing the morning duties we were then set off to the next part of trekking. we bought breakfast from the canteen and set off to the peak at 7 AM. the initial part was ok but it got steeper and steeper. it was dense forest. we had to climb some big rocks.




i almost walked for 3 kms and from there i was not able to continue at all. still i continued further. at one point of time was i totally into a stand still. my legs were getting shiverring. i decided to end my trek here. i told my team members to continue their trek and i will wait for them here. they really motivated me, but my body is not permitting to continue further. they continued in their trek. it was in a lonely place and can feel the breeze of fresh air. many fellow travellers were crossing, they were guessing why i was sitting there. one guide told me that this is the path of the elephants and bears. i was thinking what to do. so at this time my boss also had to break the trek. so we planned to return back.

while returning on the way we heard some sound, thought it as some animal comming to attack us. we took stone and stick and walked slowly and nothing came across. we reached the base camp around 11 AM. we had lunch from there and started to walk to Forest checkpoint at Bonacaud. we were just two and had to walk alone in the deep forest without any guide or help. travelling downside also has the same effect like climbing. we almost missed a way and found that it is not the one and we retuned to the normal route. it was interesting. and in no time we both reached the grass lands. it was hot as hell. we took rest and continued the journey. we could see the foot steps of the elephants.




on the way we met another collegue and just told him that some elephants are in the way and have to be careful. we soon crossed the grass lands and entered into the thick forest once again. we were speaking and walking, walking all alone. Reached the water stream where we took bath the previous day and took another shower. drank lots of water and again set off to reach the Forest checkpoint at Bonacaud.




while we were walking we heard some heavy sound of the leaves, and turned towards it. it was a elephant. All alone. it was hardly 50m from us. the joke which we made to our collegue turned to be a real. we walked slowly for around 20-30 steps and ran as fast as we could. we were not sure how that energy came to us. it was a run for life. on the way there was a camp. we told the guide who was sitting there was an elephant. they immediately ran towards the place to drive it off as many others will be returning. we walked further and came to the forest camp at 5:45. they check the bags once again, to check if we are carrying anything from forest. after the formalities we had to catch the bus from bonacaud estate at 6:30 PM. it was around 2 kms. we got the bus and reached Nedumangad and took a auto-rickshaw and reached room at 9 PM.

Only now i was thinking why did i came out of the forest. Because inside the forest there was no pollution and a peaceful life. all we hear is the sound of birds and breathe fresh air. The memories of the trekking would stay in heart for ever. But the saddest part is i was unable to complete the entire trek. I was happy that i could this much as i never had a habit of walking. May be next time i wanna do it once again till the top.

Notes

Never carry water. You can find water in the streams.
Always carry light things.
Carry sweets. It will give you energy.


Signing off with a note to people who trek, never throw plastic into the forest. it will spoil the nature. this forest is still fresh with its beauty.