Flora of Panchgani

Neelakurinji at panchgani

Panchgani hills are always an amazing sight – hundreds of thousands of spectators visit this place to witness the magical beauty of nature. But, this year, there is one more reason to visit the lovely hills of Panchgani. And that’s the blossoming of Neelakurinji flowers.

Panchgani is blessed with a rich variety of flora and fauna, but it is best known for Neelakurinji. The breathtaking slopes of the hills get blanketed by these purple-blue wild-flowers, adding yet more alluring charm to the sounds and sights of Panchgani. Visitors to Panchgani in the coming months can enjoy this marvelous sight, which is bound to leave an everlasting memory about this fascinating hill station, which is nestled in the middle of 5 hills in the Sahyadri mountain ranges.

Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana), belonging to the genus ‘Strobilanthes’ is a shrub that grows abundantly in the Panchgani area. The genus has about 300 species, of which at least 46 can be found in India. The flowers are light blue in the early phase of blooming and turn purplish blue when mature.

 The purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji blossom in profusion, once in 12 years.

Purple flowers in panchgani

Blossoming after 12 years.

Although the blossoming cycle of Neelakurinji ranges from 1-16 years; since 1800, it has been flowering once in every 12 years. The flowering season starts somewhere between August and November and peaks in late September or early October. What triggers the massive flowering in every 12 years is not known. The mass flowering once in 12 years and the subsequent death of the shrubs is the subject of folklore in the hills of Panchgani.

The Neelakurinji flower and the associated mountainous landscape where it blooms were used in classical Tamil literature as a symbol for the union of lovers. The famous poetic fragment from the Kuruntokai “Red Earth and Pouring Rain” also has a reference to this flower.

With these flowers blossoming in huge quantities, there will be rock bees and common hill bees visiting the place in large numbers, which means that immense quantities of honey will be available. It is believed that the honey collected from the Neelakurinji blossoms is the sweetest.

While in Panchgani, you can make yourself comfortable at the Hotel Ravine. It is equipped with all modern amenities and has elegantly furnished rooms, offering an enchanting view of the lush green hills and valleys of Panchgani, now carpeted in purple with Neelakurinji blooms. The hotel offers 2 person rooms, 4 person rooms specially designed for families with kids and Executive Suites complete with bathtub for those who want a super-luxurious experience!

For people in Panchgani, the blooming of Neelakurinji is a reminder of their lives having passed another twelve years. For those from far off places, it is a rare opportunity to witness the lovely flowers covering the hills in a blanket of blue. The next flowering could be in the year 2018, next in 2030 and so on. That’s why; right NOW is the perfect time to be in Panchgani. Plan your visit to this holiday destination soon, to capture the flowers picturesquely carpeting the entire hillside in purple blossoms.

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