The name ‘Agastya Mala’ actually refers to a 2000 meters tall peak located within the state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. While it is not traditionally a hill station, Agastya Mala is located in the Western Ghats mountain range and is also a part of the Agastya Mala Biosphere Reserve and the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Image credit – Seshadri.K.S, CC BY-SA 3.0
The Tamirabarani River originates from the eastern side of the hill range and flows perennially into the Tirunelveli district. The peak and its surroundings are known to have been the abode of the Hindu Sage Agastya from whom the Tamil language was born. The region was known to be a part of the Ayi Dynasty’s kingdom between 3rd century BC and 10th century AD. Today, Agastya Mala is a famous pilgrimage center for the Hindus and has a life sized statue of Sage Agastya at the top.
Being located in the Western Ghats, the Agastya Mala experiences a monsoon influenced tropical highland climate. The summers can be warm and humid with showers from the southwest monsoons and winters are generally cool and dry. The summer starts in April till July when temperatures can rise up till 35 degrees Celsius. Due to its unique location at the tip of the Southern-Indian peninsula Agastya Mala experiences two seasons of monsoons, the South-West monsoons bring rains during May till July and the North-East monsoons bring rain during the months of October and November. The months between October and January mark the winter season with temperatures hardly dropping below 16 degrees Celsius.
Best Time to Visit
While the region is habitable throughout the year, it is mostly inaccessible during the monsoons and due to the surrounding region being a part of the Neyyar Wildlife sanctuary and Agastya Mala Biosphere reserve. The tourist season in Agastya Mala starts during November and lasts till the month of March.
Attractions/Places to Visit
Located at the tip of the peninsular India and between the green hills of the Western Ghats, Agastya Mala (Agasthyarkoodam) is known for its lush green surroundings and the flora and fauna that the forests of Neyyar wildlife sanctuary houses. Tigers, Leopards, Sloth Bears, Elephants, Barking Deer, Sambhar Deer, Nilgiri Langur, Nilgiri Tahr and over 2,000 varieties of medicinal plants and other rare fauna are housed in the forests that surround Agastya Mala. Agastya Mala is also known to be a favorite location for the hikers and trekkers with passes issued specially by the Kerala Forest Department.
Manjolai Hills, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Manimuthar Waterfalls, Tea Plantations, Steve Irwin Crocodile Research and Rehabilitation Center, Kalakkad Mundanthurai Wildlife Reserve, Kuthiravetti View Point and Agastya Muni Statue are the various important places to visit in Agastya mala.
How to Reach
The peak is located in the region that is shared by two states namely, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and due to is location in the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, is well connected via roads from both the states. A trekking pass can be obtained from the Kerala Forest Department’s office in Thiruvananthapuram. Buses are thus available from the Thiruvananthapuram Central bus station. The buses go till the town of Bonacaud which is just a 15 minute walk away from the forest office for Agastya Mala Biosphere reserve. The nearest railway station is located in Ambasamudram in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. The nearest airport is located in Thiruvananthapuram which is well connected with all major cities in India.
Distance from Major Cities
1. Ambasamudram – 25 Kilometers
2. Thiruvanathapuram – 36 Kilometers
3. Madurai – 176 Kilometers
4. Kochi – 185 Kilometers
5. Bangalore – 489 Kilometers
6. Chennai – 593 Kilometers
7. Hyderabad – 987 Kilometers
8. Mumbai – 1,258 Kilometers
9. Indore – 1,578 Kilometers
10. Ahmedabad – 1,681 Kilometers
11. Kolkata – 1,945 Kilometers
12. Jaipur – 2,042 Kilometers
13. Lucknow – 2,066 Kilometers
14. Delhi – 2,228 Kilometers
15. Chandigarh – 2,462 Kilometers
Accessibility and Accommodation
Accommodation should not be a major problem in Agastya Mala due to the Wildlife Sanctuary being a popular tourist spot during the visiting season between October and March. Several accommodation facilities are available in Thiruvananthapuram that suit every type of tourist budget. Stay can also be arranged at the hostels and base stations that are usually preferred by the Trekkers and Hikers. Most of the travelling is either done on foot or in Jeeps.
Image Credits @ Bijukumar KN