MUNNAR: The 12-year-old wait of nature lovers and travel buffs to see one of India’s most sought-after leisure destinations turning blue is about to come to an end. The rolling hills of Munnar, a famed hill station in Idukki district of Kerala, will burst into a sea of blue when a shrub known as Kurinji or Neelakurinji blossoms in all its grandeur from July to November 2018.
Neelakurinji, commonly found across the Western Ghats, blooms once in 12 years with its eye soothing blue colour. As the flower ages, it turns to a purplish blue. This rare natural spectacle is among the most magnificent sights in the world.
The previous blooming of Neelakurinji happened in 2006, when around a million travelers made a beeline to Munnar. The tourism department is expecting the number of visitors to go up to 1.2 million this year.
The department has taken steps to improve the tourism infrastructure in Munnar in order to accommodate the maximum number of tourists in the Neelakurinji hotspots. The next flowering season will be in 2030.
Munnar has the largest concentration of Neelakurinji out of the 46 varieties found in the country. There is no better time to visit Munnar than when Neelakurinji blooms en-masse, says Director of Tourism P. Bala Kiran.
The flower has shown up in areas around Munnar like Mattupetty and Top Station. From August to October every 12 years, these areas are primed for viewing this natural wonder. About 1600 m above sea level, Munnar is one of the most beautiful locations in Kerala and the world.
Its tea plantations, hill ranges, plantation bungalows and a vast variety of rare flora and fauna have enthralled people for centuries. It is also home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr whose population is currently being conserved at the Eravikulam National Park. One can even visit the Anamudi Peak, the tallest in South India, which has some of best trekking trails in the country.
People love the view at Top Station, the highest point on the Munnar-Kodaikanal Route. Other places of interest in the area include Marayoor, Echo Point, Anayirankal and Valara Waterfalls. If kurinji is what gets you to Munnar, stay back and let this paradise on Earth take over your senses. It has never disappointed anyone who made the journey.
A host of packages are 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.
Image Credits: Kerala Tourism