Presently the neelakurinji blooms can be seen in the Eravikulam National Park and in Kolukkumalai near Munnar.

As neelakurinji season nears end tourists throng Munnar for once-in-12-year spectacle
Features Tourism Sunday, October 21, 2018 - 14:00

The popular kurinji season is entering its final lap, with just about 20 more days remaining for the magical sight to vanish. The current flowering season of the neelakurinji will end in about the first week of November and there is a heavy rush as tourists throng the hills of the Western Ghats to catch a glimpse of the once-in-12-years’ spectacle.

Presently the neelakurinji blooms can be seen in the Eravikulam National Park in Munnar and in Kolukkumalai, situated about 11 km from Suryanelli in Munnar. However, the heavy rains and floods that occurred in the state seriously affected the season and the mass flowering that is usually seen in Eravikulam National Park and Kolukkumalai, says Munnar Wildlife Warden R Lakshmi. The floods also impacted tourism in Munnar during the neelakurinji flowering season.

“The forest department expected about 4.5 lakh visitors while the tourism department anticipated over 8 lakh tourists during the flowering season. But according to estimates, only 85,000 tourists visited this season. In the 2006 neelakurinji flowering season, over 3.5 lakh tourists had visited and witnessed the magical phenomenon,” a forest department official said.

Meanwhile, tourists who visited the area for the neelakurinji sound happy. “After a long gap of 10 years we visited the Eravikulam National Park and witnessed the neelakurinji bloom for the first time. It was a wonderful experience. The cool atmosphere and natural beauty is enticing,” says Kameshwara Rao, who is visiting from Hyderabad.

Over eight varieties of the neelakurinji plant is in bloom this season at Munnar, say experts. The varieties are Strobilanthes kunthianus (blooms once in 12 years), Strobilanthes gracilis (blooms once in 10 years), Strobilanthes neoasper (blooms once in 5 years), Strobilanthes luridus (blooms once in 6 years), Strobilanthes pulneyensis (blooms every year), Strobilanthes urceolaris (blooms once in 3 years), Strobilanthes foliosus (blooms once in 10 years) and Strobilanthes andersonii (blooms once in 10 years), says Pala St Thomas College botany department lecturer Jomy Augustine.

“It was in 2006 that the Strobilanthes kunthianus variety largely bloomed in Munnar. In 2008, over 25 varieties of the neelakurinji had flowered in Munnar, but Strobilanthes kunthianus was not one of them,” says Jomy.

Photos by Sandeep Vellaram and Shinoj Kumar

Also read: 'Pariyerum Perumal' to release in Kerala on October 26

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