Neelakurinji : The purple flowers, native to Niligiris bloom after every 12 years! The peak blooming season is from August to October. One of the places where you can see these flowers is in Munnar. Eravikulum National Park is one of the best attraction to check for this flora. They are taking bookings at https://eravikulam.org/.
What makes Neelakurinji so special?
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.
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.
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.
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