Lonely Planet Writer

The flowers in this Indian valley bloom only once every twelve years

There’s a valley in India where flowers bloom only once every twelve years. It might sound like the beginning of a fairytale, but it’s the reality for the town of Munnar, and the blossoming is happening soon.

The town of Munnar sits in the middle of the Anaimalai Hills. Photo by Oleh Slobodeniuk/Getty Images

Munnar sits at the gate of the Anaimalai Hills, in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The Hills’ 3000 hectares of the are known for their incredibly high concentration of a flower called neelakurinji, a tropical shrub that blooms only once every twelve years. Starting this August, the hills are going to be covered in blue-purplish flowers, creating a unique spectacle that will last until October.

The flowers cover the hills once every twelve years. Photo by Dethan Punalur/Getty Images

The neelakurinji (from “neela” indicating the blue-purplish color and “kurinji” indicating the type of flower, according to Munnar’s official tourism website) bloom only once in their lifetime, and then it takes twelve years for the sprout they produce to grow tall enough to bloom and start the process once again. The valley has two cycles currently active – one has bloomed in 2014 and so it won’t bloom again until 2026, but the other has bloomed in 2006, and so it’s getting ready to explode into colour very soon.

There are around 40 species of neelakurinji in Kerala alone. Photo by Dethan Punalur/Getty Images

If you want to plan a visit, remember that picking the flowers is expressly forbidden – not only it could potentially damage the entire delicate ecosystem surrounding the neelakurinji, but picking one to try and grow them at home is useless since the flowers only bloom at an altitude of at least 1500 meters above sea level. What you can take home are incredible memories, and not just of the flowers – the hills are part of the Eravikulam National Park, and there are several trekking trails that can take you to the Anamudi, the highest peak in southern India.

With an elevation of 2695 meters, Anamudi is the highest peak of South India. Photo by Renjith Varma/Getty Images

You can get more information on the best way to reach the Anaimalai Hills and book a tour of the neelakurinji blooming through the official website here.