(Last Updated on : 14-06-2013)
The Bright purple-blue, bell shaped Kurinji flower is an atypical kind of flower, which grows mainly in Kodaikanal and Udhagamandalam (Ooty), the two famous hill stations of Tamil Nadu. Botanists take special interest and the layman alike as it blossoms only once in twelve years unlike the other common flowers.
The botanical name for Kurinji, which is a bright purple-blue bell-shaped flower, is Strobilanthes Kunthianus. The Kurinji flowers grow on bushy shrubs, which are about eight, or ten feet in height the hill slopes of the Western Ghats at an altitude between 6000 to 7000 feet and during the blossoming season are seen carpeting the mountain slopes. Since the blue in colour, they came to be called Nilgiris (Blue Mountain). The Kurinji bushes are also found in some hilly tracts of kerala like Munnar and Iduki and here the flower is known as Nila Kurinji (blue Kurinji) as there is a whitish-yellow Kurinji too.
It is interesting to note that the ancient tamil country was divided into five geographical zones and of these the hill region was called Kurinji. Ach of these tracts had a deinty presiding over it and the God of the Kurinji was Muruga. In Kodaikanal, these is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Muruga known as Kurniji Andavar meaning God). Hence, this temple is associated with the Kurinji flowers which blossom in abundance all around it.
This flower was famous even in the ancient period and poets of the Sangam age (2nd century B.C to the 3rd century A.D) have waxed eloquent on its beauty as seen from works of Tamil literature like Ahananuru, Maduraikkanchi and Kurinjipattu. A tribe called the Maduvar who live in the mountain ranges around Valparai (Tamil Nadu) and Munnar (Kerala) in the Western Ghats calculates its age with the blossoming of the Kurinji.