Floral feast in the mountains

November to January is the best season to witness the beauty of the Western Ghats mountain ranges, when wildflowers spring up and attract everyone with their agnificent spectacle.

Neelakurinji is one such wildflower. It is one among 46 varieties of plant found in India. It occurs at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 metres. The plant is usually 30 to 60 cm high.

They can, however, grow well beyond 180 cm under congenial conditions. This purple or blue flower blossoms in a clustered manner that last as long as 15-25 days.
In Kemmangundi, you can witness a spectacular show of Neelakurinji that made the floral carpet in this hill range. Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India.

Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms gregariously only once in 12 years. But, after 2006, this flower blossomed in just 8 years of interval.

This year Neelakurinji blossomed in Mullayyanagiri, Dattagiri and Kemmannugundi hill ranges which attracted large number of visitors in the months of August and September.

At the time I visited this area, the flowers had begun to wither away. But, it did seem like a second round of blossoming was about to begin, as a few young plants had colourful flowers blooming on them.

While the colours weren’t as bright as they probably were in the first round of blossoming, there were several patches of flower carpets making for a stunning
view. Some of them were light blue in colour, indicating their youth, while some purple, indicating their age.

Even as I stood mesmerised by all the blue beauty, certain other tiny flowers caught my attention, for they seemed to dance to the tune of the mild breeze. I am no botanist, but I could easily spot at least ten different types of wildflowers, mostly in hues of yellow, pink, white, and blue. Bursting with colours, brimming with flowers and buzzing with happy insects, these mountain ranges are undoubtedly a feast for the eyes.

 

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