Kurinji For Ever
There is a new kind of fever gripping the whole of Munnar..! Its wild…its blue….its spreading fast.....and for once it's nice to talk about. Well folks; that rare and special Kurinji times are here again..! In a matter of days the hills of Munnar will be enveloped in divine blue heather of acelestial hue that's sure to transport you to another world. Miss it this time and you will have to wait more than a decade to see it again! No wonder then, the talk of the town is nothing but the blooming of Neelakurinji.
Discovered by early travelers this delicate plant known as Strabilan the Kundiana, has a strange life cycle. It blooms once in 12 years and dies after the blooming. A new plant takes its place with its genetic clock also set for another bloom after 12 years and this cycle of life goes on and on making it one of the most admired and strange species of plants. The rarity of its flowering makes neelakurinji a legend in itself that no one wants to miss the opportunity of viewing it in full bloom this year.
Anticipating an unparalleled rush of tourists to Munnar the local authorities have began preparations in full earnest. However even these best laid plans can go wrong if the visitors do not take precautions...especially with regard to getting themselves suitable accommodation and arrangements for sightseeing tour etc. well in advance.wwww.neelakurinji.net offers free guidance to tourists to plan out their visit to Munnar. More importantly it offers the visitor an overview of the whole event and puts you in the right perspective straightaway. Well, the clock is ticking for you as well. Make your visit to Munnar during this 'kurinji-time' and enjoy the rare sight of these beautiful flowers!
Beauty of Blue
I came to know about the 'Kurinji' flowers when I was in school. In September 1990, some mountains of Munnar were covered with 'Kurinji' flowers. I was wondering how these mountains got the blue colored covering. When I was watching these flowers a cool breeze came to tease the flowers, wah!! What a wonderful scene. Then I came to know that I can see the Kurinji' flowers once in twelve years. It was very painful to realize that I will not see the flowers for another 12 years. I think there were so many hearts, same as mine. May be because of that, in 1994, God blessed some other mountains with these beautiful flowers. These green mountains turned blue within a period of 3-4 weeks and they remained blue for a couple of months. Then we saw these flowers in some parts of Munnar in 2002. Now we are expecting to see 'Neela kurinji' in August this year. In 2002 approximately 2,00,000 visitors came to Munnar , and we expect more than 5,00,000 tourists this year.
It is interesting to know that there are different varieties of 'Kurinji', which flowers at intervals between seven and twelve years. I understand that its botanical name is 'Strobilanthes' (strobilanthes kunthiana). This shrub grows to the height of about two feet, and prefers the poorer soils on steep grassland slopes. When it reaches its periodic flowering cycle, whole areas of the hillside are mantled in blue, presenting a breath-taking spectacle. It is said that Nilgiris (Blue Mountains) took their name from the colour of these flowers.
It seems to be a miracle when I saw the mountains, which carried these flowers, caught fire during the very next summer. I would like to mention here that the Muduvans have been burning the grasslands since their migration to the High range approximately 600 years ago. There are two reasons which we believe for this controlled burning- (1) During the very next monsoon, much healthy grass will grow in these areas, and (2) If the grass is left unburned over a period of time and if it's caught fire it would be a major fire hazard. I was much worried about those plants. I asked about this to Prasad Uncle, who is a reporter, great photographer, nature lover, and above all he is a knowledge bank. He consoled me saying that during the very next monsoon all the plants will come up, but will flower only after 12 years. I could not believe when he told me that botanists noted this plant for its periodic flowering as early in 1838. These belong to 'Acanthecea 'family.
Once a guest who stayed in our cottage gave some plants to us. They got it from some sight seeing place in Munnar. Since all my family love flowers and plants, we decided to plant these in polythene bags. By the end of last May, these started flowering. And we were extremely happy to see that they were all Neelakurinji flowers. We still have flowers in those plants. When I open the window in the morning, I could smell them, which makes me feel that they wish me 'good morning'.
Not only the Neelakurinji , Munnar is blessed with so many varieties of orchids, which grow on trees and rocks, lilies and other flowers. A wide range of birds, some of them sing just like a man whistling, some of them make their nest in our house' wall, and some others busy collecting honey from our garden. Above all, the beauty of the hills, it's beyond the limits of words.
Lets join our hands to protect 'Neelakurinji' and our Mother Nature. Otherwise the Kurinji flowers will remain as a dream for our next generation.