Neelakurinji (Strobialanthes Kunthiana) – a beautiful little mauve flower of the Nilgiris, blooms only once every twelve years. A mesmerizing shade of blue, this rare and beautiful flower is a sight to behold for all Nature lovers. Seen individually, a Neelakurinji flower is an ordinary looking one with no fragrance or medicinal properties. However, when thousands of them bloom en masse and cover the Shola grasslands of Western Ghats at an altitude of about 1500 metres, the sight is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle to watch out for. In fact, the Nilgiris are called the Blue Mountains owing to the flowering of this rare beauty.
Currently, Ooty has been blessed with the blooming of the Neelakurinji. The flowers have started to bloom in the areas spanning the villages of Ebbanad and Bikku Pathi Mund, both about 15 kms away from the Ooty District Collectorate. However, the bloom is expected to last only between mid to end of October. Those of you for whom a trip to Ooty was in the charts and perhaps even those for whom it wasn’t, this might be a compelling reason to pack your bags right away. The flower wears a light blue colour when young and a purplish shade after full bloom.
In fact, the flower has become a symbol for the Western Ghats, which was recently declared a ‘Hot Spot’ – one of the 18 around the world. Many conservationists see the period of bloom as a time to call for awareness to take steps to preserve this beautiful and bio-diverse ecosystem.