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Neelakkurinji-a purple beauty that blossoms once in every 12 years

Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) is a shrub that used to grow abundantly in the shola grasslands of Western Ghats in India. The Nilgiris, which literally means the blue mountains, got its name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms gregariously once in 12 years. The flowering season ranges between August and November with a peak period of late September and October although some varieties exhibit little variation in their phrenology. The flower has purplish blue colour when aged. It looks light blue in the earlier stage of blooming.

Although Neelakurinji has flowering cycles ranging from one to 16 years, it has been flowering every 12 years since 1800. What triggers the massive flowering every 12 years is not known.

The species name Kunthiana has been derived from the River Kunthi which flows through the rich expanse of the renowned Silent Valley National Park in Kerala. It means that the plant has been first described from the vicinity of this river. The plant grows profusely Shola grasslands and mountain slopes of the mighty Western Ghats and Nilgiris in India. The genus has around 300 species, of which at least 46 occur in India. Besides the Western Ghats, it can also be found in Eastern Ghats.

Munnar is blessed with a rich variety of flora and fauna. Situated about 1600 mts above sea level, Munnar is well known for its vast expanse of Neelakurinji.

During the last blooming in 2006, the biggest Neelakurinji flowering was at the Eravikulam National Park in Munnar. It also bloomed gregariously at several places around Munnar and in Kodaikanal. After an interval of 12 years, in 2018, the hills around Munnar will be blanketed again with Kurinji flowers.

Kurinjimala Sanctuary:

About 32 sq. km core habitat of the endangered Neelakurinji plant is protected in Kurinjimala Sanctuary in Kottakamboor and Vattavada villages in Devakulam Taluk, Idukki district of Kerala State in South India. The area was declaried a sanctuary by the Kerala Forest Minister Benoy Viswam(2005-2010) at the Neelakurinji Fest at Munnar which took place7th October 2006. The declaration of the sanctuary was in in view of protection of the unique biodiversity of the area. It has been estimated that about ten lakh tourists visited Neelakurinji at Munnar during the bloom in 2006.

How to Get There:
Air : Near by airports are at Kochi (130 kms) and Madurai (142 kms).

Rail : Nearest railway stations are at Kochi and Kottayam.

Road : The place is well connected by a well developed network of road transport.

Climate: Temperature:
- Summer: Max: 25.8°C, Min: 15.2°C
- Winter: Max: 10°C, Min: 0°C

Places to stay in Munnar: Windermere Estate, Mahindra Resorts, Fort Munnar, Periyar Mist Valley, Bluemount-Chinnakal, Royal Retreat, Elseem Garden, Western Cottage, Marthoma Rest House, Misha Tourist Home, Idukki Tower-Thodupuzha, Gemini Tourist Home-Thodupuzha, etc.

1 comment :

Shriya said...

the flower bloomed early in most parts of Kodaikanal including our guest house
you can see some of my kodaikanal pictures at http://www.kodaikanalhotels.com/
Best regards

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