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Catch the bloom that gave Nilgiri Hills its name

Once every 12 years, the mountains and valleys get covered with Neelakurinji blossoms
You need a dollop of luck to see the blue bell-shaped flower

Malancha Dasgupta   |     |   Published 15.12.18, 04:48 PM

But then, being this close to nature whets your appetite and keeps you going. We climbed up and down a couple of hills till we came to the one with the profusion of Neelakurinji. Having had our fill of the sight, we trekked back till we came to the last one on the way back just before sunset and stopped to watch the sun go down.

Listening to the camping stories of my two friends sitting on that hill just made my bucket list somewhat longer.

For those who don’t want to go on the flower trek, Kodaikanal and its surroundings have a fair bit to offer. Here are some destinations that are worth visiting.

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Almost every time you visit the Nilgiri Hills, you’d be left wondering where it got its name from. In any direction you care to look would be verdure as far as the eyes can see, with the occasional patch of brown hillside, mostly where it’s too steep for anything to grow. While all this would be wonderfully soothing to the eyes, there would be nothing very blue about them, unless, of course, you count in the sky above.

But 2018 has been different. Once every 12 years, the hills and valleys get covered by Neelakurinji blooms — a bright blue bell-shaped flower — and this was one such year. Standing on top of a hill covered with Neelakurinji with other hilltops at eye level and valleys way below is the reward one gets at the end of a trek in the upper Palani Hills.

Even in the year they bloom, you need a dollop of luck to get to see them. I was fortunate to have made two nature-loving friends — a tour guide and an entrepreneur — who happened to know on which hill the flowers were in bloom. A 4x4 from Kodaikanal, where we were staying, got us to the starting point of the trek. And it was a long trudge in the blazing September sun from there.



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