Neelakurinji : The purple flowers, native to Niligiris bloom after every 12 years!

 

Spread across the border of three states, the Nilgiris (Sankrit) or the Blue Mountains (English) or Neelmalai (Tamil) are blessed with one of the most ravishing terrains and thus they are counted among the 400 natural wonders of the world by geographers. Though these ranges are part of the Western Ghats, they relish their identity from the rare purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that envelopes the Anamalai, Nilgiris and Palni hills. If a local says that he or she has seen three seasons of kurinji, one can easily guess their age to be more than 36 years because the spectacular carpet of these pale purple flowers blossoms at an altitude of over 2,500 m on the Nilgiri hills only once in 12 years. Due to this unique diversity, this region is recognized as India’s first biosphere.

 

The beatific Nilgiri district that resides in these mountain ranges is made up of steep hills, picturesque landscape, rolling tea estates, fantastically narrow valleys, numerous rivers, waterfalls and rivulets. Ooty the “Queen of Hill Stations”, Coonoor and Kotagiri are the three hill stations that heavily claim all the fame in this region. The other lesser known towns with alluring beauty in the Nilgiris include Gudalur, Lovedale, Wellington, Ketty and Aruvankadu. If you remember reading my Wellington diaries, am sure you would know what a fun trip I had while exploring this side of India with my friends. 

 

From dining at one of the oldest gymkhana clubs of India at Wellington to spending a night at the only hunt club of India in Ooty to unraveling the beauty of the vintage houses of Coonor to taking a fun ride on the toy train of Niligiri Mountain Railways (UNESCO World Heritage Site), I can easily say that I have come back smitten by the heritage of the state of Tamil Nadu.
 

And if you are visiting this year, you have an advantage of seeing the rare purple flowers too. They have a unique life cycle. It is the year that 40 odd varieties of Neelakurinji will be witnessed between the months of July 2018 and October 2018. The shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India will literally turn blue and purple making it an enigmatic sight. 

 

Also read : Wellington Diaries

 

Nilgiri Mountains Railways – Chugging along one of the most endearing route!

 

In these Blue Mountains, there isn’t anything more romantic and exciting than taking a joy ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. It is hard not to fall for the quaint blue and cream wooden carriages with large windows making it a major attraction amidst children as well as adults. Built by the British in 1905, they are the oldest and steepest track using rack and pinion technology. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), and Kalka–Shimla Railway are collectively designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chugging between the town of Mettupalayam and the hill station of Udagamandalam (Ootacamund), NMR maps a distance of 46 kilometers (29 mi) via 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and 250 bridges. If you want to experience it right from the start, Coimbatore is the closest city to Mettupalayam. 

 

This railway still runs on steam locomotives for quite a distance but its diesel cousin takes on only from Coonor. The most popular stations are Mettupalayam, Coonor and Ooty, however the entire route promises spectacular scenery and dramatic sights. When the romantic hilltop villages begin to appear on either sides, the toughest choice is to pick your favorite station to descend at. Wellington and Lovedale spell magic. I was so touched with the whole experience that I penned down an article around all these places. It was published in TRUJETTER’s inflight magazine in the November-December series.

  
 
 
 
This is my article published in the in-flight magazine of Trujetter in the Nov-Dec edition.
 

 

Nilgiris, Coonor. Wellington, TRujtter
 
 
Neelakurinji, Coonor, Purple flowers
 
 
 

 
Here are some of my favorite reasons to visit the Nilgiris this year.
 
1.The Nilgiris are considered world’s 14 ‘hotspots’ because of their uniquely rich biodiversity.

 2.After 12 years, the flowering season of Neelakurinji is 2018.

3.The original inhabitants of the Nilgiris are the indigenous and primitive tribal group Toda.

4.The uphill journey on Nilgiri Mountain Railway takes 290 minutes and the downhill journey takes 215 minutes.

5.The famous Bollywood song Chaiyya Chaiyya from Shah Rukh Khan’s Dil Se was shot on the rooftop of NMR.

6.The Government Rose Garden, situated on the slopes of the Elk Hill in Vijayanagaram of Ooty claims to have one of the largest collection of roses in India.

7.Wellington is the home of the Madras Regiment of the Indian Army.

8.Niligiris are home to home to Ketti, the world’s widest valley, as well as the famous Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.

 9.The Nilgiris were declared ‘plastic free’ in the year 2002.

 10. Save Nilgiris Campaign (SNC) is run by a non-governmental organization that works for the conservation and preservation of the Nilgiris.

 11. Kothagiri happens to be the only place after Switzerland which has one of the best climate for humans.

12. The oldest house of Ooty (Stone Age) has been converted into a Government Musuem lately and it houses some amazing facts about the Nilgiris.

13. Ooty Hunt Club directly takes you back to the days when hunting was a celebrated sport in India during the British rule.

 14.Wellington is not just a chosen place where the tri-services officers are put together for a year long prestigious DSSC course but also it is a township that sets many examples.

 

The second blog is up – 5 Beauties of Tamil Nadu – Coonor, Wellington, Ooty, Kothagiri and Lovedale

Happy Travelling!

#Pendown

19 thoughts on “After 12 years, Neelakurinji of the Nilgiris are back in 2018

  1. I know nothing about Nilgiris so it was interesting to learn about them. How beautiful. The mountain train would be a wonderful experience as the landscape is stunning. It would be perfect to photograph!

  2. I definitely feel a little warmer in my tummy after reading this. This purple flower display sounds incredible, and I’d love to see it this July! Also, I’m a huge fan of train journeys, so I’d like to jump on board after and see more of this stunning location. Thank you for introducing this beautiful place!

  3. First of all, congratulations on having your article published in an in-flight magazine! 12 years is a long wait to see these beautiful purple flowers! Those planning to visit South India this year are in for a show. If you are going on a trip there, I would love to see your photos of the flower-filled forest!

  4. wow..this is amazing …i never knew the flowers blossom after 12 years..that means I would be able to carch them now after 12 years???

  5. Ohh we were in Nilgiris hill for a week in 2014 but I have never heard of the Neelakurinji blooming and if you knew how much I love wildflowers I would have cried knowing that I missed it. But I guess I didnt as the blooming only once every 12 years! I went to google it and it looks amazing! Imagine having a romantic picnic surrounded by thousands of purple flowers!
    Dada recently posted…The hot air balloon festival in Chateau-d’oex, SwitzerlandMy Profile

  6. Congrats on getting your article published! I love traveling on trains, I think it’s a fun and unique way to see a destination. I would love to visit the Nilgiris, your photos are spectacular! Love the beautiful purple blooms. This would be a glorious journey to embark on.

  7. Beautiful post ! I have heard a lot about this special flower of Nilkurenzi . This is right time to visit to be witness otherwise have t wait for another 12 years .

  8. 12 years!!! wow. I had no idea this mountains existed. What a wonderful sight and hidden gem! Thank you for sharing. -Ella

  9. Mountain railways are the best aren’t they? Just the idea of sitting in a train, chugging along such gorgeous landscapes, while you sip on your coffee and bite into your sandwich, makes me want to take a quick vacation to the Nilgiris. It is such a pity that I am from India but I not been to any of the hill stations that you’ve mentioned above. Ooty was always on my list but it never happened. Your pictures are gorgeous and are inspiring me to visit. I also didn’t know that the purple flowers of the Nilgiris haven’t bloomed in 12 years and finally reappeared now! How cool is that?!

  10. Wow, I have never heard of the Blue Mountains before. Thanks for sharing with us about this natural spectacle – which happens every 12 years! :) It’s a long wait, but the landscape looks beautiful with the purple flowers scattered in the green grass.

  11. I’ve heard of Nilgiri mountains, however, I’m yet to explore that part of India. Your post has given me strong reasons to visit them this year considering the blooming of Neelakurinji in 2018 after 12 years. I didn’t know these flowers bloom once in 12 years. This is incredible! Such breathtaking and magical views with rich history associated with them are definitely not to be missed. Thanks for sharing this lovely post! :)

  12. Though we have been to Ooty a couple of times and also Coonoor and Wellington, we have not seen the Neelakurunji blooming. If 2018 is the year of the blooming of these flowers, we need to plan atleast a short trip if only to bask in the views of these rare flowers.

  13. Hey Manjulika. Congrats on being published. Your article has got me thinking about a trip to Coonoor/Ooty again with the same theme. I was shown the Kurinji flower just a couple of months back, on a trek in the Nilgiris, but I was too tired to take a photo of it. I am really interested in doing this as a trail or documentary.

    The mountain railways are beautiful. I took a ride from Coonoor to Ooty on the railways and enjoyed my time. Do check out “In the land of the Kurumbas” on Youtube or my blog.
    Katchutravels recently posted…In The Land of Kurumba Tribes-Part 4-Reaching Tea Nest and Singara EstateMy Profile

  14. A flowering season that occurs every 12 years? That’s quite intriguing! I’d love to take that train that winds around a mountain. It happens that I love trains and mountains

  15. I was just reading about the Kurinji flowers in a travel magazine the other day. Blooming flowers after 12 years sounds so amazing. This event is however so popularized, I am afraid the rush of visitors does not cause any harm to the bloomed flowers or the nature nearby. I have been in the Ooty toy train once before and would love to travel again in it and witness this peculiar festival. Hope to see you there!

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