Tourism in Kerala is set to bloom again as the much-awaited Neelakurinji season has taken off soon after the floodwaters receded. Undeterred by the landslides that wrecked the roads, Idukki is preparing to receive tourists who have already started making bookings to witness the rare Neelakurinji (strobilanthes kunthiana) blossoms.
Due to the broken Periavurrai bridge on way to Rajamala, the present safest route to reach Munnar is via Kochi. Autos and jeeps have been arranged at the bridge for commuters to Rajamala. Private vehicles are not allowed.
Tourists may avail of the jeep service till the entrance to Eravikulam National Park – a major site for Neelakurinji enthusiasts – beyond which there will be private buses available to take them around. “'One week of sunlight is all it will take for the flowers to mature completely. We will be open to visitors from September 1,” says wildlife warden at the Eravikulam National Park R Lakshmi.
The first set of blossoms appeared at Vattavada last week but apprehensions about conditions after the flood brought down the number of visitors. However, a mass cleaning drive involving over 1000 volunteers has been initiated to refurbish the hill station. The volunteers include a tourism task force, an adventure company, and various NGOs apart from the local residents.
The sunny weather that followed the floods is highly suitable for the flowers to grow. Experts say if the sunlight persists without torrential rain, the blooming season may get extended up to November. However, visitors can witness it till October, irrespective of the weather.
Munnar is one of the most sought-after destinations in Kerala and received around 4.85 lakh domestic and 48,000 foreign tourists in 2017. The Neelakurinji that blooms once in every 12 years is however expected to surge these numbers.
Following the floods, the collector had imposed a ban on tourism activities in Idukki district but that is expected to be lifted by the end of this month.
Also read: Kurinji tales from Munnar