Munnar Turns Blue Once Again

Posted By : Anantha Narayanan K

‘Neelakurinji’ blooms after 12 years

Munnar is about to witness lakhs of travellers making beelines to have a glimpse of the rarest natural spectacle of its hills draped in blue. The endless stretch of rolling hills will be carpeted with tiny blue flowers for the next four months, as Neelakurinji, a flower with 40 odd varieties, blossoms in all its grandeur. This monumental event appears once in every 12 years and this year July-October 2018 is the blooming season. Neelakurnji blooms take place only in Munnar and when it happens it is profuse, sprawling magically across the green mountains. The hillock gets a completely unique look and identity and the valleys look unrecognizable covered in these majestic flowers. It is time to plan your trip to Munnar to witness the Neelakurinji turning Munnar into a floral paradise from the fairy tales.

The serene hills of Munnar in Kerala have always had a special place in the hearts of globetrotters around the world for their lush green meadows, silvery streams, cascading waterfalls, and misty paths. Situated 1600m above sea level, the hill station, one of the best in the world, receives visitors throughout the year to its virgin forests, savannahs, rolling hills, scenic valleys, sprawling tea plantations and winding walkways. There are several specialties about Munnar that makes it a picturesque retreat location for every nature-lover. And, now is the time to witness the most important and rarest among them that turns the hillock into a fairyland. Yes, the Neelakurinji season is once again here after 12 years and the hilly Munnar is getting draped in purplish blue.

Munnar is about to witness lakhs of travellers making beelines to have a glimpse of the spectacle of this rarest natural phenomenon. The endless stretch of rolling hills will be carpeted with tiny blue flowers for the next four months, as Neelakurinji, a flower with 40 odd varieties, blossoms in all its grandeur. This monumental event appears once in every 12 years and can only be viewed in Munnar. Munnar gets a completely unique look and identity and the valleys look unrecognizable covered in these majestic flowers.

The peculiarity of Munnar’s Neelakurinji is its exclusivity. Although the plants are found in a sparse amount in other south Indian hill stations, Neelakurnji blooms take place only in Munnar and when it happens it is profuse, sprawling magically across the green mountains of Western Ghats. All through the offseason, the Neelakurinji plants are camouflaged into the thick vegetation of Munnar and go unnoticed. But during the bloom season, the Neelakurinji flowers take the centre stage in Munnar, turning the place ethereal.

Neelakurinji

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. It is a shrub found in the shola grasslands of Western Ghats of south India - the Nilgiri hills, Palani hills and the Eravikulam hills of Munnar. The flower falls in the genus kunthiana. It was first studied and described by German botanist Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck. The plant normally grows 30 to 60 cm high in normal conditions and up to 180 cm in congenial conditions.

One can view the shorter variation (about 2 ft.) at higher spots and longer variations (about 5 to 8 ft.) are seen at lower spots.  About 250 species belong to the genus Strobilanthes and nearly 46 are found in India.  Most of these species show unusual flowering behaviour which range from one to 16 years. The flower found in Munnar has a blooming cycle of 12 years and the last time Neelakurinji bloomed in the hillock was in 2006.

During the last blooming season, an estimate of around 10 Lakh tourists visited this place to marvel the beauty of Neelakurinji-filled Munnar, unleashing a visual extravaganza. In fact, the best time to visit Munnar is when the Neelakurinji blooms en masse. The event has a place in the calendars of botanists and nature lovers as it is like a secret glimpse into heaven, allowed only once every 12 years. Standing amidst the Neelakurinji, one is transported to a different dimension altogether.

The bewitching beauty and rarity of Neelakurinji has inspired several Tamil and Malayalam poets. Most of them have depicted the flowers as a symbol of yearning, love, and happiness. In Kuruntokai, a Tamil classic poetic work and the second book in a Sangam literature anthology, Ettuthokai, the flowers are indirectly mentioned as an imagery in comparison of the blossoming with the eternal union of lovers.

Ideal Spots

There are several spots in Munnar to witness the enigmatic sight of Neelakurinji flowers. Kovilur, Kadavari, Vattavada, Rajamala and Eravikulam National Park are the must-see spots during the season. The grasslands at Top Station and Eravikulam National Park offer a spectacular view of the Neelakurinji blooms during the flowering season. Eravikulam is incidentally home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr, hosting a majority of the remaining population of the species on the planet. The majestic mountain goat ambling down the hills that are enveloped in Neelakurinji is an extremely beautiful sight.

The Neelakurinji Bloom 2018 is worth the wait and not to be missed as the flower will bloom again only after 12 years. A host of packages are now available for travellers and specialised tours and treks are organised to view this masterpiece of nature. Tour operators have opened their bookings well in advance and the tickets are selling like hot cakes. Over the next four months, Munnar is expected to see 10 lakh visitors and most hotels will be fully occupied. Hence it is ideal to book your room and ride to not miss the Neelakurinji magic. The District Tourism Promotion Council of Idukki also helps travellers to explore the hills.

How to Reach?

Nearest railway station: Angamaly, about 109 km; Ernakulam, about 145 km away.

Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 110 kms away.

About 480 Kms from Bangalore by road.

Munnar is about to witness lakhs of travellers making beelines to have a glimpse of the rarest natural spectacle of its hills draped in blue. The endless stretch of rolling hills will be carpeted with tiny blue flowers for the next four months, as Neelakurinji, a flower with 40 odd varieties, blossoms in all its grandeur. This monumental event appears once in every 12 years and this year July-October 2018 is the blooming season. Neelakurnji blooms take place only in Munnar and when it happens it is profuse, sprawling magically across the green mountains. The hillock gets a completely unique look and identity and the valleys look unrecognizable covered in these majestic flowers. It is time to plan your trip to Munnar to witness the Neelakurinji turning Munnar into a floral paradise from the fairy tales.

The serene hills of Munnar in Kerala have always had a special place in the hearts of globetrotters around the world for their lush green meadows, silvery streams, cascading waterfalls, and misty paths. Situated 1600m above sea level, the hill station, one of the best in the world, receives visitors throughout the year to its virgin forests, savannahs, rolling hills, scenic valleys, sprawling tea plantations and winding walkways. There are several specialties about Munnar that makes it a picturesque retreat location for every nature-lover. And, now is the time to witness the most important and rarest among them that turns the hillock into a fairyland. Yes, the Neelakurinji season is once again here after 12 years and the hilly Munnar is getting draped in purplish blue.

Munnar is about to witness lakhs of travellers making beelines to have a glimpse of the spectacle of this rarest natural phenomenon. The endless stretch of rolling hills will be carpeted with tiny blue flowers for the next four months, as Neelakurinji, a flower with 40 odd varieties, blossoms in all its grandeur. This monumental event appears once in every 12 years and can only be viewed in Munnar. Munnar gets a completely unique look and identity and the valleys look unrecognizable covered in these majestic flowers.

The peculiarity of Munnar’s Neelakurinji is its exclusivity. Although the plants are found in a sparse amount in other south Indian hill stations, Neelakurnji blooms take place only in Munnar and when it happens it is profuse, sprawling magically across the green mountains of Western Ghats. All through the offseason, the Neelakurinji plants are camouflaged into the thick vegetation of Munnar and go unnoticed. But during the bloom season, the Neelakurinji flowers take the centre stage in Munnar, turning the place ethereal.

Neelakurinji

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. It is a shrub found in the shola grasslands of Western Ghats of south India - the Nilgiri hills, Palani hills and the Eravikulam hills of Munnar. The flower falls in the genus kunthiana. It was first studied and described by German botanist Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck. The plant normally grows 30 to 60 cm high in normal conditions and up to 180 cm in congenial conditions.

One can view the shorter variation (about 2 ft.) at higher spots and longer variations (about 5 to 8 ft.) are seen at lower spots.  About 250 species belong to the genus Strobilanthes and nearly 46 are found in India.  Most of these species show unusual flowering behaviour which range from one to 16 years. The flower found in Munnar has a blooming cycle of 12 years and the last time Neelakurinji bloomed in the hillock was in 2006.

During the last blooming season, an estimate of around 10 Lakh tourists visited this place to marvel the beauty of Neelakurinji-filled Munnar, unleashing a visual extravaganza. In fact, the best time to visit Munnar is when the Neelakurinji blooms en masse. The event has a place in the calendars of botanists and nature lovers as it is like a secret glimpse into heaven, allowed only once every 12 years. Standing amidst the Neelakurinji, one is transported to a different dimension altogether.

The bewitching beauty and rarity of Neelakurinji has inspired several Tamil and Malayalam poets. Most of them have depicted the flowers as a symbol of yearning, love, and happiness. In Kuruntokai, a Tamil classic poetic work and the second book in a Sangam literature anthology, Ettuthokai, the flowers are indirectly mentioned as an imagery in comparison of the blossoming with the eternal union of lovers.

Ideal Spots

There are several spots in Munnar to witness the enigmatic sight of Neelakurinji flowers. Kovilur, Kadavari, Vattavada, Rajamala and Eravikulam National Park are the must-see spots during the season. The grasslands at Top Station and Eravikulam National Park offer a spectacular view of the Neelakurinji blooms during the flowering season. Eravikulam is incidentally home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr, hosting a majority of the remaining population of the species on the planet. The majestic mountain goat ambling down the hills that are enveloped in Neelakurinji is an extremely beautiful sight.

The Neelakurinji Bloom 2018 is worth the wait and not to be missed as the flower will bloom again only after 12 years. A host of packages are now available for travellers and specialised tours and treks are organised to view this masterpiece of nature. Tour operators have opened their bookings well in advance and the tickets are selling like hot cakes. Over the next four months, Munnar is expected to see 10 lakh visitors and most hotels will be fully occupied. Hence it is ideal to book your room and ride to not miss the Neelakurinji magic. The District Tourism Promotion Council of Idukki also helps travellers to explore the hills.

How to Reach?

Nearest railway station: Angamaly, about 109 km; Ernakulam, about 145 km away.

Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 110 kms away.

About 480 Kms from Bangalore by road.

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