Thursday, February 11, 2010

Agasthyarkoodam Trip - Part I

I have always wanted to go to Agasthyaarkoodam since I had first heard of it. It is the second highest mountain peak in Kerala after Anamudi, standing at a height of 1890 m above sea level. It is a protected ecological area and you have to obtain sanction from the Forest Office at Trivandrum to make the trip, which is usually only permitted in January – February period.

We started our journey early morning on 27th January, 2009. We traveled by car and bike to Bonakkadu from where the trekking starts. We had reached by 7 AM when the first team of trekkers is allowed to go. There are about 15 people in one group and a guard / guide will be assigned to them. Though we had reached before the first group took off some technical problems delayed our start. There were seven people in our group. But two of them couldn’t make the trip due to personal reasons. So we included two other friends in their place at the last moment. The senior most person in our group, affectionately called ‘Pakaran’ by us, said that this would be no problem with the forest authorities since they had gone likewise in the previous years too. But when we reached there the forest authorities wouldn’t permit these two ‘others’ to enter.

Last year one trekker had been killed by an elephant and it seemed the authorities were very strict after that. We couldn’t blame them for taking stringent precautionary measures but we were desperate too. We wouldn’t get another chance this year and so made some phone calls to the Forest Division office in Trivandrum to contact the forest officers here and convince them that we weren’t trouble makers or terrorists and in the end we were allowed to proceed.

(To be continued...)

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