Kurinjimala sanctuary is best known as a conservation place for the endangered and rare Neelakurinji flower. This flower blooms once in a period of 12 years. This sanctuary lies in the Idukki district, which is approximately 48 Km from Munnar in the northeast of Kerala. The area of the Sanctuary is almost 32sq km and it gets its name from the phrase Kurinjimala, which implies a mountain where the Kurinji flower blooms.
The Neelakurinji flower can be generally found at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 meters. The flowering cycles of the Neelakurinji flower ranges from one to sixteen years. The flower last blossomed in the year 2006. The shrubs of the Neelkurinji were once found in the Palani Hills and the Nilgiri Hills. However, not much of it is left due to increased occupancy of dwellers and plantations.
Apart from the Palani Hills and the Nilgiri Hills, the Neelakurinji flower can be found in the grass lands of Vattavada, Eravikulam, that are located near to Munnar and also in the hills of Klavarai in the state of Tamil Nadu. The flower is also available in the Eastern Ghats Shevroys. It was in October 2006 that this region was declared by the authorities as a sanctuary to safeguard the endangered species i.e. Neelakurinji flower. The sanctuary is a great way to protect the region’s biodiversity along with the high altitude vegetation that is native to the regions lying in the South Western Ghats.
The sanctuary is strategically placed and in the east it has Annamudi Shola National Park and Ernavikulam National Park. In the northeast it has Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary with Chinnar Sanctuary located in the north and Pampadam Park that lies on the southern part of the Neelakurinji Sanctuary. Montane and Shola grasslands can be found at a higher altitude of the Sanctuary along with the evergreen and deciduous forests that are located at lower altitudes with Shola and Nilakurinji forests in the valley.
Apart from the vegetation, the sanctuary is also home to Nilgiri Tahr and tigers. In addition to these, one can also come across giant squirrel, wood pigeon, Sambar deer, Asiatic elephants and gaur. It is an ideal place for wildlife photographers and a perfect getaway for people looking for adventure sports in the lap of nature. It is a perfect holiday spot that has plenty to offer to the tourists who come to visit this place during their vacation.
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