Blooms once in 12 years & treasures the unknown: Kerala’s pride, ‘Neelakurinji’

Once every 12 years, the Hills of Munnar in the southern state of Kerala in India, turn blue. People flock in great numbers to view the blooming of the Neelakurinji. Biologists and nature lovers alike mark their calendars for this great event happening now in 2018. It is easily among the most magnificent sights in the world.

From August to October every 12 years, these areas are primed for viewing this natural wonder. 1600 meters 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.
In a way, the rare flowering marks the blooming of hope for the tourism industry which is the doldrums, following the floods earlier this year. The Hills of Munnar have adorned hues of romantic blue as Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus), the once in a 12-year wonder. Though the heavy Monsoons, delayed the flowering season, the meandering valleys and mist clad hills of Munnar have started to amaze one and all with its stunning purple.
The last bloom of Neelakurinji was in 2006. And after a long 12 years the flower is blooming this year and this is why Munnar has been added in the list of ‘Top Places to Visit in Asia in 2018’ by the ‘Lonely Planet.’
Neelakurinji is a rare purple-blue colored flower which only blossoms once in 12 years in the lush hills of Munnar, Kerala. The season starts in July and lasts till October. This year the blooming has started from the first week of September and is expected to extend for a few months.
For people who don’t know, Munnar is a beautiful hill station situated in the Western Ghats mountain range in Kerala. Once in a lifetime, everyone should experience the charm of Munnar, the chill of its hills, the abundant green valleys, the silvery rivers, the cascading waterfalls, fascinating plantations, and every other bit of this place.
There are 250 different types of Kurinji and 46 varieties of Neelakurinji in India, which also includes red and maroon flowers but Neelakurinji is the most famous.
The Muthuvan tribes, who are the original inhabitants of Munnar, determine their age in relation to the number of Neelakurinji blooms they have observed. The Paliyans of Tamil Nadu also use the blooming cycle of Neelakurinji flowers to calculate their age. At the time of blooming season, honey bees gather nectar from the Neelakurinji flowers and this honey is considered to be tastier and healthier than the regular honey we use.
Since these unique flowers bloom only once in every 12 years, they bring a huge number of tourists to the south Indian state. The next flowering season will be in 2030 and that is really a long wait. So if you want to witness the majestic beauty of the Neelakurinji, make your way to Munnar this year.
Munnar 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.

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