The legendary Neelakurinji blooms! (August-October 2018)
The long wait is now over! The hills of Munnar will soon be bathed in a dreamy shade of blue. The Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus) blooms only once in every 12 years and it sure is a sight to behold! Here, with pleasure, Kerala Tourism offers you in-depth insights into the ‘Neelakurinji Phenomenon’ through photographs of the blooming in 1982 and 1994, video clips of the Kurinji and other nearby attractions, the best routes to reach the flowering site at Rajamala, travel writers who share their experiences of having witnessed the flowering in the previous years and also scholarly articles on preserving the endangered Kurinji as well.
Every twelve years, the hills of Munnar in Kerala burst into a sea of blue, a rare natural spectacle for which travellers make a beeline. An endless stretch of rolling hills carpeted with tiny blue flowers welcomes the visitors. It is the time Neelakurinji, a flower with 40 odd varieties, blossoms in all its grandeur.Botanists call it the blooming of ‘Strobilanthes kunthianus’, the botanical name of Neelakurinji. Neela in local parlance translates to the colour blue and Kurinji is the local name for the flower.This stellar phenomenon can be witnessed between the months of August 2018 and October 2018 when the flower blooms in all its glory unleashing a visual extravaganza. In fact, there is no better time to visit Munnar than when the Neelakurinji blooms en masse.The Nilgiri Tahr, the endangered mountain goat, is endemic to these hills. The majestic Tahr ambling down the hills that are swathed in Neelakurinji makes for an extremely enigmatic sight.
Flooded with travel requests, many tour operators have opened their bookings well in advance. A host of packages are now available for travellers. Moreover, tour planners and adventure clubs organise trekking in these hills when the Neelakurinji blooms. This unique lifecycle of the plant makes the hills a must-visit destination for biologists and nature enthusiasts alike.
Why the Neelakurinji flowers only once in 12 years?
Among plants, there are annuals and perennials. Annual plants complete their life cycle in one year. They grow from the seed, bloom, produce seeds and die in one growing season. Perennials live for more than two years and usually flower every year and set seeds.Some perennials flower only once in their lifetime, set seeds and die. The next generation of the plants are established from these seeds and the cycle is repeated. Such plants are known as monocarpic, opposed to polycarpic plants that flower and set seeds many times during its lifetime. Monocarpic plants flower only after attaining maturity. The time taken by different species may differ in this respect.
Bamboos are monocarpic plants taking more than 40 years to mature and flower. Another characteristic shown by such plants is that these will flower gregariously in a single season. This happens in the case of bamboos and Kurinjis. The term ‘plietesials’ is used to refer to such plants. The time taken to mature varies in different species of Kurinjis. So different species of Kurinjis have different intervals of flowering. Neelakurinji matures in 12 years time and flowers gregariously every 12 years.
- Do not pluck the flowers or plant. They are an endangeredendemic species and an integral part of the ecosystem. Anyharm to even a single plant will impact the entire region atlarge.
- Please understand that the plants will grow only above analtitude of 1500 meters and plucking them in hopes of growingthem at home will be in vain.
- The Kurinji plants are fire resistant and act as a naturalprotector to the grasslands from forest fires and also checksoil erosion so please refrain from harming the plant.
- If harmed the Kurinji will cease to exist not only denyingfuture generations the sacred experience of witnessing itsflowering but also irreparably damage the delicate balance ofthe environment.
- The Neelakurinji flowering area is a STRICTLY NO PLASTICZONE. Please cooperate.
- Do not forget, our Earth is our responsibility
The long wait of twelve years is finally over. The hills will soon be bathed in a dreamy shade of blue from August 2018 to October 2018. Are you ready?
WHEN AND WHERE
The long wait is now over! The hills of Munnar will soon be bathed in a dreamy shade of blue. The Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus) blooms only once in every 12 years and it sure is a sight to behold!
Munnar is among the crown jewels of God’s Own Country and has attracted visitors from around the world for centuries due to its natural splendour. Hidden inside, lies the famous Eravikulam National Park, the home and sanctuary of the Nilgiri Tahr. This sacred haven for this exotic animal is a relief in a time when different species are disappearing off the face of the planet. Situated in the Devikulam Taluk of Idukki district, people also flock to this park to view the special Neelakurinji flowers that bloom once every 12 years. The park also boasts of hosting South India’s highest peak, Anamudi (2695 m), in its southern area. This park is spread over an area of 97 square kilometers and packs tons of fun spots for people to have a good time in. One can see the crowds around the Echo Point, where the natural view and unique setting adds to the eponymous phenomenon. The Rajamalai region of the park is open to the public and from here; the exotic Nilgiri Tahr can be viewed. The Rajamala region falls under the tourism zone of the area.
The rare flora and fauna present in the park also attract visitors. Official vehicles take people on trips where one can experience the biodiversity of a high elevation shola-grassland system. One can view rare terrestrial and epiphytic orchids and beautiful wild balsams along with the Nilgiri Langur, leopards and the Indian Bison as well. The early months of the year are the only time when the park is closed as this when the Tahrs are calving.