Though I can name a list of peaks which I have conquered In Kerala there are some which are still in the “to do” list or in the “couldn’t do” list of mine. Agasthyarkoodam in Trivandrum is one such ranges where I could not do much expedition. Though I had even took permission for three times it remains in the undone list. Agasthyarkoodam peak in the Agasthya Bio reserve In Trivandrum is the 10th tallest peak in Kerala and the tallest in South Kerala. The height of the peak is recorded as 1868 metre (6129ft). Chunk portion of the Bio reserve and the peak falls under the Neyyar Wild Life Sanctuary. The peak lies in the border of Tamilnadu and Kerala. Four Major Rivers originates from Agasthya Hill ranges. Three from Chemmunjimotta namely Karamana River Kallar and Peyar. The Thamarabharani River originates from the eastern side of the hill ranges and flows into Tamilnadu while the Peyar flown into Ambasamudram. Other two Rivers flows into the state of Kerala as Kallar and Karamana River. For some time now I along with Rahul have started exploring this ranges and this is my fifth trek in the close vicinity after Vazhvanthol Falls trip, Kurishumala Bonacaud trek, Bison Valley trek and Varayattumotta trek. This time it was to Kathirumudi which lies adjacent to Agasthyarkoodam peak. When Rahul told Agasthyarkoodam is visible from Kathirumudi I decided to pay a visit. As usual I started from my home in my bike. I picked up Rahul on the way and reached Kottoor by 7.30. The permission letter was to be collected from Kottoor forest office. By the time Rahul completing the formalities I paid a quick visit to the Kottoor Elephant Rehabilitation centre. I could see some naughty infants refusing to dance with the trainer’s tunes creating mess in the Neyyar river. It was fun watching them and I stood there watching them until Rahul poked me from behind. We had our breakfast also from Kottoor and by 8.15 all the team members were there. We were a group of 9 members some of them familiar and made some new acquaintances also. The trek started from a small tribal settlement named Chonanpara near Kottoor. We were allowed a guide from Kottoor forest office. By 8.45 we reached Chonanpara Parked our vehicles there and started our trek. Summer has started in Kerala and we had its effect at the beginning itself. We started through a wide trail starting from Chonanpara moving inside the forest. Though it was not a tough ascend in the beginning everyone was getting tired as it was very sunny. Every now and then we had to break for drinks to prevent dehydration.
In 40 minutes we entered into the vivid forest and soon into the bamboo growth. After crossing the bamboo growth there were no clear trails. Even if there was one the fallen leaves would have made it impossible to see. The route was very beautiful with thick foliage over the head and the dried fallen leaves on the ground. They created a special color combination. The growth was strong and ages old. Even Creepers where as thick as tree trunks. There were huge rock boulders. In two hours we covered the forest covers and the foliage was getting cleared which was an indication of the beginning of grass lands. Through the foliage I could see the Agasthyarkoodam peak in a distance now. We could see the majesty of the hill once we entered into the grasslands. When Rahul said I can see it I didn’t ever expected to see the peak as close as this. It seemed like we could walk down the hill and climb up the Agasthya peak in one day. But Rahul said it would be something next to impossible to try it in one day. Being a veteran in the area I had to believe him and besides it would be an illegal act to try doing that.
In another 20 minutes we reached the peak of Kathirumudi. The view from the top was impeccable. On to the right we could see the Neyyar reservoir and to the right we could see the Peppara reservoir and in the centre the giant stood with the rocky head. It was as sunny as it can be and the light reflected on the rocky head of the peak making it difficult to get good pictures. A very large range of hills were visible from Kathirumudi including Ponmudi, Varayattumotta, Pandipathu, Kurishumala, Anchumala, Ezhilampotta and Venkulam. I believe, from none of the other places we could see the entire stretch of this hill ranges. Reaching the top itself was bit of a tiresome thing and there were some tree patches over the top where we could take a nap. Some of the team members decided to take rest over the top when we four decided to explore the entire place. We had one small hill to ascend. But it turned out to be one of the most beautiful view points in the entire hill. It was the best place in the entire range to get the view of entire Neyyar reservoir. I wish I could spend a whole day there gazing at that view. I wanted to wait till the dusk to see how the peak would turn golden at the time of sunset but it won’t be possible to stay back that long. We have to start back by 4pm.
We explored almost all nuke and corners of Kathirumudi. By 2.30 we were all exhausted due to the heat. We had our packed lunch and lay down for a while. It was decided to start back by 3.15pm. By 3.15 we had to bid good bye to Kathirumudi. The descend was also stressful as the loose soil and dry leaves made it difficult for us. Fortunately there were no tough descends. During the return we could see and hear a lot of birds during the evening birding hours. Though could not click on anything. By 4 pm itself the day started becoming milder and the sun mellowed to a greater extend so as not to give us a tough farewell. By 5.30 we reached back to the base and by 6 we started back to home. Dropping Rahul at his home I reached back home by 7 pm.
Though it was not a momentous trek Kathirumudi will be remembered for the views it provided. The scenic views of Peppara and Neyyar were awesome. The view of the undulating hill ranges is becoming a reason for me to go back to this place again. I got my first close view of Agasthyarkoodam and adding a handful of new locations in the “to do” list. I believe I will come back to this place with a new location like Pandipathu, Venkulam or the giant itself.
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