Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run

Tripoto
27th Jan 2019
Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

Explore as you Run is a travelogue series where I record my travel experiences of running and cycling events from across the world. The objective is to inspire fellow travelers to explore new places and also lead a healthy life.

Ponmudi | The Golden Peak

Ponmudi is a hill station in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala in India. A part of the western ghats, it offers glorious views of hilly landscapes from its peak. It is possible for backpackers to hike across these hills and explore the ecosystem which surrounds this peak. The hike for the very famous Meenmutty waterfalls is situated 3 km away from Ponmudi base. Loaded with a wide variety of flora and fauna, the ecosystem in this region has everything a nature loving backpacker would yearn for. Being home to more than half the bird species found in Kerala, Ponmudi also attracts bird-watchers from across the country.

Bliss and Ignorance

Photo of Ponmudi, Kerala, India by Mustafa Shahid

How to reach

Trivandrum is the nearest major city to Ponmudi. One can fly into Trivandrum from any major airport in India (and the Gulf). The city is well connected by rail and bus routes as well. Frequent buses and trains ply here from Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Cochin.

Once in Trivandrum, Ponmudi is just 60 km away. If you are traveling with family, you can easily hire a car for the day (will cost less than ₹ 3000). If traveling as a group of friends, you can hire a tempo-traveler (will cost less than ₹ 500 per person). If traveling solo, it is best to catch the KSRTC bus from the Thampanoor bus stand opposite to Trivandrum Central railway station. The last option will cost you less than ₹ 100 for one way travel.

Best time to visit

Kerala being a tropical state, the weather is pleasant throughout the year. Ponmudi hills will have a different charm during the monsoon season, when you can walk through clouds and enjoy the cold in an otherwise warm season. However, sometimes during heavy rains, the road to Ponmudi hilltop is closed due to landslide warnings. It is safer to visit in winters and enjoy the clear view of waves of rolling hills which encompass the western ghats.

It is advisable to visit early morning, when the sun is still gentle. The top gets really hot during summers and may cause irritation to travelers who choose to visit Ponmudi in the afternoon slot.

View from the foothills

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

Golden Peak Half Marathon

Getting to the point, let me now tell you my experience of running up this mighty hill for the third time. The Golden Peak Half Marathon was organised by ITEN runners club, a prominent running group in Trivandrum. The participants had to assemble at Kanakakunnu palace at 0330 hrs. From here we were transported in mini-buses to Anapara, from where the race was going to start.

Showers of sunlight

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

The race started sharp at 0600 hrs from the compound of a government school and ended at the upper sanitarium of Ponmudi.

Tea gardens en-route

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

We covered a total of 21.7 km by running, walking and crawling up the winding road to the top. This snake-like road has 22 hairpin turns, the edges of which keep giving you breathtaking views of the valley as you keep climbing higher.

Turn number 22

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

In the early hours of the day, as we gained elevation, so did the sun. Almost halfway up we could see the sun-kissed peak of Ponmudi, rising mightily from within the interspersed valleys and hills in the western ghats.

The end is not around that corner - 3 km to go

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

The race got brutal in the last few kilometers. The sun became unforgiving and my legs started to give up. What is special about this course is that there is no stretch of flat road. The entire ascent of around 1100 m is all a climb up. The race organisation was really exceptional. With proper hydration and nutrition at regular intervals, and constant support from ITEN group, all the participants could finish the run. The race finished with a sumptuous breakfast and a photo shoot. By 1100 hrs I had boarded the return bus and was on my way back. Traveling down the same winding road which I had climbed mere hours back. The memory of the effort and pain still fresh in my mind.

Mandatory photo with the medal

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

At the top

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

Upper sanitarium

Photo of Ponmudi | The Golden Peak | Kerala | Explore as you Run by Mustafa Shahid

There are many other adventure activities near Ponmudi including the treks of Agasthyakoodam and Varayado Motta. Hopefully I will be covering one of them in my upcoming trips.

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Until next time.

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