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- Agasthiyamalai Hills
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An overview of Agasthiyamalai
Agasthiya refers to Agastya Rishi and Malai refers to Hills. There is a big statue dedicated to Agastya Rishi on the peak of these hills. Lots of people are devoted to Agasthiya Rishi as the language of Tamil is considered to be a gift from him. This is located in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and covers Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu. There is a huge Agastya Mala Biosphere Reserve on the circumference of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam. These hills are part of this reserve. The reputed River of Thamirabharani starts from the east side of Agastya Mala and then flows into Tirunelveli. These hills prove to be ideal places for trekking and there are quite a few trekking routes here. At a height of around 6129 feet or about 1868m above sea level, Agastya Mala is a scenic tourist spot located inside the wildlife sanctuary at Neyyar.
History of Agasthiyamalai
Agasthiya Rishi is believed to be one of the Saptarishis (Seven Highly-Reputed Rishis) as per Hindu mythology. The Agastya Mala was developed as a big pilgrimage centre by the die-hard followers of the Rishi. The main person behind the construction of this place was Chenkottukonam Madathipathi Jagadguru Swami Sathyananda Saraswati. He, along with the help of activists from the Hindu Akiya Vedi, reached this peak and destroyed the Cross that was erected here earlier by the Christians and then set up the pilgrimage centre and named it as Agasthiyarkoodam.
Agastya Mala is located at 8.37 degrees towards the North and 77.15 degrees towards the East. This is located at about 61lm from the main airport at Thiruvananthapuram and at about 30km from the tourist spot, Neyyar Dam.
How to reach and local transport
Air – Thiruvananthapuram Airport, at a distance of 61km is the closest to Agastya Mala.
Rail – Ambasamudram Railway Station in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu is the nearest to this place.
Road – There are lots of buses that connect this place with Tirunelveli and Thiruvananthapuram on a daily basis. These are buses run by the Tamil Nadu and Kerala State Transport Departments as well as private buses.
Local transport – Travelling on foot is the only mode of local transport within these hills.
Attractions and things to do
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Agastya Mala Biosphere Reserve, Manjolai Hills, Bona Water Falls and Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are some of the tourist attractions in and around Agastya Mala. Trekking, wildlife safaris, bath in the water falls and pilgrimage are the main activities for tourists here. Tourists who opt for trekking must be aware that they can do so, only when they have valid trekking passes issued by the Forest Department of Kerala State.
Where to eat and stay
There are no hotels or restaurants in Agastya Mala. The trek could take up to 7 hours, so tourists must carry enough food items with them for surviving through the challenging terrain. Good places to stay and eat are available at Thiruvananthapuram and the nearest hotel is at about 30km from the hills. Hotel Jas and Krishnatheertham Ayur Holy Beach Resort are some of the peaceful places to stay for tourists who come to Agastya Mala. The services are great and the food is great. Authentic Kerala cuisine is served here.
STD, PIN and Emergency Contact Numbers
The STD and PIN codes of Thiruvananthapuram, which is closest geographical area to Agastya Mala are 0471 and 695013 respectively. Police (100), Fire (101), Ambulance (108), Crime stopper (1090), Women’s Helpline (1091), Child Helpline (1098) and CM’s Call Centre (1076) are some of the emergency contact numbers in Thiruvananthapuram which tourists need to remember while travelling to Agastya Mala.
Banks, Hospitals and Tourist Office
Banks – There are no banks in Agastya Mala. One has to come to Thiruvananthapuram, where there are many banks.
Mitra Hermitage Ayurveda Hospital
Venkara, Thiruvananthapuram PO – 695103
Ph: 0471 2381888
Tourism Department, Kerala Government
Park View, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala – 695033
Ph: 0471 2322279