Munnar lay in Idukki district of Kerala. Located at about 1,600 meters above sea level in the Western Ghats mountain ranges, Munnar enjoys the advantages of unspoiled natural beauty. Privileged from its geographical location, Munnar is blessed abundantly by many of the major tourist attractions. To name a few, the Anayirankal Dam, Mattupetty, Devikulam, Echo point, Powerhouse Waterfall, and so on. Yet, there is one other sight, rather a phenomenon that attracts many more to Munnar. Once every twelve years, Munnar gets covered in a blue carpet woven by the Neelakurinji flowers.
Neelakurinji is scientifically known as Strobilanthes kunthiana. It’s a shrub found growing on the Western Ghats in the forests of Shola in South India. It belongs to the genus Strobilanthes and has around 250 species, of which at least 46 are found in India. This flower has a purplish blue colour when aged and appears in light blue colour during the earlier stages of bloom and hence the name ‘Neelakurinji’. The word Neela in Malayalam means ‘blue’ and Kurinji is the local name for the flower. This flower is found in many parts in and around Munnar. Some of the prominent ones are Kovilur, Rajamala, Kadavari and at the Iravikulam National Park. These plants grow up to 30 to 60 cm high. But, under favourable conditions they can grow above 180 cm. Its flowering season is between August and November with a peak period between the late September and October. However, some varieties show variance in their phrenology. The hills of Munnar witnessed its last Neelakurinji bloom during 2006. Though, the next mass bloom would occur in 2018 (12 years from 2006), the flower blooms in small groups around Munnar, and it is expected to occur in 2016. The sight of the hills bloomed with the Neelakurinjis is truly a mesmerising one and Munnar welcomes all to witness this pleasant sight.