The lower elevations of this peak are also known for their abundance of rare herbs and medicinal plants. Around 2,000 medicinal plants used in Ayurveda Ayurvedic treatments are found here.
Agasthyakoodam or the Agasthya mountain is a great attraction for all nature lovers where they can experience nature at close quarter. Located 70Km from the city, this second highest peak in south India is considered to be a treasure-trove of rare herbs and medicinal plants. Agasthya Mountain is part of the Western Ghats with an elevation of 1868Metres .The famous river Thamirabharani which flows through Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, originates from this mountain. The Peppara wild life sanctuary and Peppara dam also form a part of Agasthyakoodam forests. The Peppara dam across the river Karamana is built to supply water to the Trivandrum city. Agasthyakoodam is a place having religious significance to both Hindus and Buddhists. The Hindu consider the place as the abode of Rishi Agasthya one of the seven Saptharshis. A temple dedicated to Agasthya exists here and attracts lots of pilgrims. According to the Buddhists the mountain is the abode of Bodhisatva Avalokiteswara.
What to see and do?
The park has an area of 23Sq Km and was established in 199 with the aim preserving the rare herbs and medicinal plants that grow there .To reach the summit of the mountain you have to traverse 28Km which might take 2 days. You might find the climb to be steep and difficult but the experience is sure to be rewarding. At Athirumala, there us a shelter inside the forest built for trekkers and on the way there you will cross the river Karamana, Vaazhapindiyar and Attyar. In the Attayar, you can watch the “Bona Falls”, a big waterfall cascading downstream. At Bonacaud also there are waterfalls.
Another activity tourists can indulge is the trekking. Trekking through the forests is an ideal way to get to know nature close at hand. This is permitted only in the months of December, January, February and March. The scenic beauty of the place has to be seen to be believed. A visual treat awaits you in the form of meadows, gurgling streams of crystal clear water, bamboo groves and tall trees touching the skies. Your eyes get attuned to the various sounds only a forest can make, like chirping of cicadas and peculiar sounds made by birds of various species and the wind swaying the leaves.
There are several rare species of flora and fauna at Agasthyakoodam Biosphere Reserve. It is home to a large number of diverse medicinal herbs, But the most well known herb is “Arogya Pacha” (Trichopus Zeylanicus) , a tribal medicinal plant said to give eternal health. Also a large number of medicinal plant used in Ayurvedic treatment are found herein the reserve, you may come across animals like Tiger, Elephant, Wild Boar, Sambar deer Malabar Giant-Squirrel, Porcupine etc .Also several species of birds and reptiles have this reserve as their habitat. Migratory birds are often sighted here on their way to far-off destinations. The reptiles seen commonly in this are Bamboo Pit viper, Cobra, Rat Snake etc .Several species of canopy trees, flowering plants and orchids add richness to the forests. Butterflies of various and vibrant colour are also a common sight.
- Care must be taken to avoid Disturbance of any kind to the animals.
- Strict discipline should be observed in the forests and loud noise is a strict no-no
- Litter and food items should not be thrown around
- For safety, trekkers should wear jungle boots
- Travelling alone is not advised
- Liquor should be avoided at all costs
- Bottles to carry water and first aid medicine are vital
- Colourful cloths and scents must be avoided
How to reach Agasthyakoodam ?
Prior to visiting Agasthyakoodam Bio-Reserve, you have to obtain permit-pass from the Wildlife Warden Forest Department, If you plan to take a bus to Agasthyakoodam, you can board it from the KSRTC bus stand, Thampanoor. The first bus to Bonacaud starts at 5AM.From Bonacaud a 15 min walk will take you to the forest office which is the entry point to Agasthyakoodam Biosphere Reserve. You have to register your details and submit the permit there for checking.
Agasthyakoodam is sure to be an unforgettable experience to all who wish to live close to nature. We live in an age where forests are being destroyed systematically to satisfy the greed of mankind. A visit to Agasthyakoodam therefore makes us all more conscious about the necessity to preserve this priceless eco-system at all costs.