As the blooming season hits India, travel agencies see a noticeable rise in holiday bookings to the hills and valleys. Be it the tulips of Kashmir in March or the Neelakurinji of Kerala, travelers gather at these popular holiday destinations to witness the magic of flowers.
Neelakurinji (strobilanthes kunthiana) also known as Kurinji is a rare purplish-blue flower which only blooms once in 12 years in the lush hills of Munnar in Kerala. The season starts in July and lasts till October.
For those who aren’t aware, Munnar is a hill station in the western ghats mountain range in Kerala. The rolling hills dotted with tea plantations, established in the late 19th century, was a former resort for the British Raj elite. Eravikulam National Park, Nilgiri Tahr, Lakkam Waterfalls, and the 2,695m-tall Anamudi Peak are some of the places worth visiting.
After a gap of around 12 years, Kerala will be resplendent, clad in a purplish-blue carpet. The neelakurinji will bloom in the Anamalai hills near Munnar, a phenomenon that occurs once in 12 years. In 2006, it created quite a buzz and there was a huge surge in the number of tourists visiting Munnar to revel in its beauty. Similarly, this year, thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the scenic hills in Kerala to behold the spectacle that will last until October. However, soon after monsoon hits the state, August is considered the best time to visit Kerala and experience this natural beauty.
Spread over 3,000 hectares of rolling hills, Munnar is home to this rarely occurring neelakurinji flower plants. Each shrub reproduces once in its lifetime and dies after flowering. These plants take another 12 years for the seeds to sprout again and grow up to 30 to 60 centimeters high.