Thiruvananthapuram: Defence spokesperson Dhanya Sanal became the first woman to reach the peak of Agasthyarkoodam, after the Kerala High Court stated that women cannot be exempted from climbing the peak, which was traditionally open only to men.
When she reached the top, scaling the steep rocks, Dhanya kneeled down and kissed the earth. She then took out a small banner which read 'Thank You All' from her bag and waved it. Her friends, who accompanied her on the trek, cheered in excitement and the forest officer passed the information that 'she reached' through her wireless set to the officials at the Bonacaud forest office.
Recalling the adventurous trip, Dhanya said, “Trekking the first 7 km from the Athirumala base camp was effortless. However, covering the 4-km stretch after that was quite adventurous. The steep woods were covered in grass and didn’t have any trees to give shade from the blazing sun above.
“My knees literally hit my chest when I scaled the Muttidicham rock. We began the trek in a group of 10. However, we split into groups of two, half-way through the trek. The signs on the hard rocks were our only indications,” noted Dhanya.
The group began its journey to Agasthyarkoodam on Monday morning and reached the Athirumala base camp at 3 pm. After having hot gruel (kanji) and green gram stir fry for dinner, they retired for the day. There were separate sleeping arrangements for men and women, Dhanya said.
Dhanya tucked into her sleeping bag and woke up at 6 am the next day, to get ready for the trek. The group began to trek the most difficult 6.5-km stretch at 7.30 am. Some of the group members even ended their trekking there.
Scaling the rocks
The next 6.5-km stretch was dooted with steep boulders which had to be scaled. They had packed semolina (upma) for breakfast from the base camp which they ate at Pongalapara. “At four places, we climbed the 30-m hills on ropes. Even though the atmosphere was cool, all of us were sweating. I couldn’t even utter a sound when I stepped to the highest point. It was a forest official who held my hands and pulled me up,” said Dhanya.
There would always be a forest official on top of the hill, during the day, until the trekking season is over. Dhanya and her group returned to the base camp at 3.30 pm Tuesday.
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