//Rare flowers bloom in Kerala hills

Rare flowers bloom in Kerala hills

By Sanu George, IANS,  Munnar (Kerala), Sep 1

A large number of people are gathering in this Kerala hill station to see rare flowers that bloom once in 12 years.

The Neelakurinji flowers (Phelobophyllum Kunthanum) have picturesquely carpeted the entire hillside turning parts of the hills reddish blue. Munnar in Idukki district is known as the tea country of Kerala.

Mohan Varghese, chairman of High Range Wild Life and Environment Association, told IANS: 'About 30 percent of the flowers have already blossomed. The flowers would be in bloom for the next two-and-a-half months and cover 250 acres.'

When these flowers bloom, swarms of bees appear and the honey produced is the sweetest. The last time the flowers were in bloom was 1994.

Forest Minister Binoy Viswom said he was taking steps to ensure that the area where the flowers grow as a national park.

'We have spoken to the central government. The forest department has asked the revenue department to hand over 700 acres at Munnar so that the blooming could spread to a thousand acres,' Viswom said.

He said the Kerala government had tied up with the Tamil Nadu government to hold a weeklong festival in the first week of October to celebrate the flowering of Neelakurinji.

Munnar borders Tamil Nadu, and these flowers also bloom in a few areas near the Kodaikanal hill station in that state.

© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service