It is the perfect time for travellers and nature enthusiasts to pack their bag and head towards Munnar, the famous hill station in Idukki district of Kerala. Being a tourist spot, Munnar attracts travellers every year but those who plan to visit the hill station this year will have the rare opportunity to witness the valley filled with purplish-blue flower, better known as Neelakurinji.
Wondering why this spectacle is so special? If you are missing the opportunity to see the flower this season (August- October 2018), then you will have to wait till 2030. Neelakurinji aka Strobilanthes Kunthianus (botanical name) blossoms only once in 12 years and the last time it blossomed was in 2006. Munnar records the highest number of Neelakurinji plants all over India, spreading across 3,000 hectares. The view of the natural flower carpet in purple is a sight to behold and is definitely a feast for the eyes.
Why does Neelakurinji blossom 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. While on the other hand, perennials live for more than two years and usually flower every year and set seeds.
Some perennials flower only set seeds and die once in their lifetime. The next generation of the plants are established from these seeds and the cycle is repeated. Neelakurinji is a perennial plant and the time taken to mature varies in different species of Kurinjis. Hence, different species of Kurinjis have different intervals of flowering. Neelakurinji matures once in every 12 years.
What else can you see?
Apart from being a visual spectacle, the hilly area of Kovilur, Rajamala and Eravikulam National Park where the Neelakurinji blossoms, are also the habitat of Nilgiri Tahr. The endangered species are stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane.
The other attractions nearby are Peerumedu, Rajamala (hill station), Periyar (forest reserve), Marayoor (Sandalwood Trees), Devikulam (tea plantations) and Mattupetty (dam site).
How to reach?
The nearest railway station to reach Munnar is Angamaly which is 109 km away while the Kochi airport is 140kms away. From there, the travellers can reach the destination by road.