Agasthyarkoodam was remaining as a dream till the 1st of February 2004. It was during our internship. It was usually very difficult to get entry tickets. I stood in the long queue in PTP Nagar Forest Office to get the tickets days before.
Together with Jibu, Jujju and in Aby’s Maruthi Zen, four of us set out for the trip. We started walking from Bonaucaud Check post at around 9.45am with packed lunch. We deviated from the path after 2 km and headed towards Bona falls. It was a massive falls. We had a good bath in the pool. Later we joined the trek path through a short cut. It was one of the steepest climb and Aby threw up in the first 5 km. We continued the journey and reached Athirumala at around 6.30 pm. As the name says it’s the border between Neyyar and Peppara wild life sanctuaries. We could see the massive mountain staring at us and literally it was the base camp with the vertical cliff right above. The Canteen was made of bamboo and it was looking so close to nature. We stayed in a large hall. Outside the hall it was clearly written not to enter the hall due to the dilapidated condition.
Next day early morning we started the climb. The climate and terrain was so different than previous day. Geographically we crossed Tamilnadu border and then came back to kerala. The scenary from Pongalappara to the summit was so beautiful. We felt like walking along the wonderland of Alice. It was a heavenly place so close to Trivandrum.
The final climb to the summit was quite exciting. The place was so windy. We conquered the 1868m tall giant. Surprisingly the place where Sage Agasthya’s statue was kept was very calm. They even lit candles in front of the statue. Actually there were thick bushes all around preventing heavy winds. The 2 feet high statue according to the people was life size. The legend says Sage Agasthya was a great physician. Anyway the whole place was full of high altitude dwarf flora most of them with high medicinal value. We walked back collecting the lunch from athirumala and reached bonacaud check post by around 4 pm.
The second trip was from February 28 to March 1st 2005. The dates were according to the Malayalam calendar. The pilgrimage period was from Sabarimala makara vilakku to Sivarathri. So luckily people were allowed to enter the sanctuary only for around 2 months in a year.
This time I was joined by Jibu, Anish, Lakshmanan, Sarin, Basanth, Harisankar and Joy. We parked our bikes at our classmate Rakhi’s home in Nedumangadu. We had bath in Bona falls. The scortching sun really hit us this time also in the meadows. I got cramps in hamstrings and quads of both legs.
On the way to Ponkalappara we saw few wild Gaurs from far. At the summit we met our class mate Niranjan’s brother. It was yet another unforgettable trip.
My third trip to Agasthyarkoodam was with Papa and Jibu. It was 23rd and 24th January of 2007. As always, we enjoyed every bit of the trip taking photos, cherished those breath taking views. Papa had a very hard test of his endurance. We could only reach some distance short of the summit as we were getting late. We reached the check post at around 8 pm
When it come to endurance, Agasthyarkoodam trip was always the hardest trek ever done, ~55 km in 2 days. gone thrice. Even the thought of one more trip is so thrilling. Cherish those passing moments of
EXCITEMENT( at check post)-
DEAD MAN WALKING (grassland walk)-
HELPLESSNESS(the 7bend hills)-
REJUVENATION(the canteen food)-
THRILL(the final climb)-
ECSTASY(the summit) and finally
CONTENTMENT(u feel it all the way back).
U feel lonely, yet fulfilled; tired yet satisfied. I tell you anybody would become philosophical. AGASTHYARKOODAM IS A MUST SEE IN EVERY ADVENTURER'S LIFE