If there were ever a place that comes close to the paradise that was the Garden of Eden, it is the magnificent state of Kerala, India, during the monsoon! The flora, greenery, and wildlife that blossoms during this season consistently redefines the word ‘lush’ and presents visitors with vistas that are assured to bewilder and amaze you. No place in Kerala encapsulates this more than Munnar and it’s otherworldly, dazzling purple and blue Neelakurinji flowers! Starting from the middle of this month and carrying all the way over to October, the hills of Munnar will be covered in row after row of these ethereal flowers. The blooming of the Neelakurinji flowers is a phenomenon that occurs only once every 12 years and sees hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to Munnar to take in a rare sight that most people would only get to see a handful of times, in their life. This quaint Kerala town will be blanketed in seemingly endless swaths of blueish-purple flowers, transforming into something that would not look out of place in a science fiction movie! The flower itself usually grows at altitudes of 1300 to 2400 meters and it is typically about 30-60 centimeters tall, although it has in certain instances been known to grow beyond 180 centimeters. Each shrub blooms only once in it's lifetime and then dies. It subsequently takes 12 whole years for new seeds to sprout. While botanists officially call it ‘Strobilanthes Kunthianus’, the local name ‘Neelakurinji’ loosely translates to ‘blue flower’. It also has over 40 different varieties, with each one displaying a spellbinding shade of blue, purple, or something that stands delightfully in-between. There are roughly 450 different species of Strobilanthes in the world and a whopping 146 of these are found in India!! It is estimated that over one million travelers from all over the globe will make the journey to Eravikulam National Park, which is currently the core habitat of the Neelakurinji flower, in order to witness this majestic, all too fleeting phenomenon! The Kerala government plans to implement a number of measures so as to ensure that the sudden influx of travelers do nothing to damage the delicate ecosystem that exists in Munnar. A number of NGO’s, including the ‘Save Kurinji Campaign Council’ are also working in tandem to this end. Besides augmenting the already scenic beauty of the Munnar hills, the Neelakurinji flower also serves as food and sustenance for numerous insects, honeybees, and butterflies. The flower can be witnessed between the months of July and October 2018, at the Eravikulam National Park, Kerala. The park is a five-hour drive from Kochi and has visiting hours from 7:30 am – 4:00 pm with a Rs. 120 entry fee for Indian nationals. More spectacular images of the flowers blooming from years past can also be viewed on the Kerala Tourism Department’s official website!