Monday, August 28, 2023

Kurinjimala Sanctuary

Kurinjimala Sanctuary UPSC

The Kurinjimala Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Western Ghats of India, specifically in the state of Kerala. It is known for its unique ecosystem and rich biodiversity, especially its flowering plants. 

The sanctuary is named after the Kurinji flower (Strobilanthes kunthiana), which blooms en masse every 12 years, covering the hills with a blanket of blue-purple flowers. Apart from Kurinji, the sanctuary is also home to a wide variety of other plant species, adding to its ecological significance.

The sanctuary supports a diverse range of animal species, including various species of birds, butterflies, insects, and small mammals. Some of the notable animals found in the sanctuary are the Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri langur, Indian bison (gaur), and various species of deer.

The sanctuary also attracts tourists and nature enthusiasts who visit to witness the stunning blooming of the Kurinji flowers. The flowering cycle occurs approximately every 12 years, making it a rare and much-awaited event.

Table of Contents

  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary Location
  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary History
  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary Area
  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary Flora
  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Kurinjimala Sanctuary Location

The Kurinjimala Sanctuary is located in the Kottakamboor and Vattavada villages in Devikulam Taluk, in the Idukki district of Kerala, India. It is situated in the Western Ghats.

Kurinjimala Sanctuary Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to Kurinjimala Sanctuary is the Cochin International Airport, also known as Nedumbassery Airport. It is located approximately 150-160 kilometers away from the sanctuary. Cochin International Airport is one of the major airports in Kerala and is well-connected to various domestic and international destinations.

Kurinjimala Sanctuary Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station to Kurinjimala Sanctuary is Kottayam Railway Station. Kottayam is a major railway hub in Kerala and is located at a distance of approximately 130-140 kilometers from the sanctuary. From Kottayam, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the sanctuary.

Kurinjimala Sanctuary History

The history of Kurinjimala Sanctuary is closely tied to the region's ecological significance and efforts to conserve its unique biodiversity. Here's an overview of its history:

Ecological Importance: The Western Ghats, where Kurinjimala Sanctuary is located, have been recognized as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots due to their high levels of species diversity and endemism. The area is home to a wide range of plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth.

Recognition and Conservation: The Kurinjimala region, known for its mass blooming of the Kurinji flowers every 12 years, attracted attention for its ecological value. Recognizing the need to conserve this unique ecosystem, the government of Kerala took steps to protect the area and declared it a sanctuary.

Establishment of the Sanctuary: In 2006, the Kurinjimala Sanctuary was officially established to protect the fragile ecosystem and biodiversity of the region. It aimed to safeguard not only the Kurinji flowers but also the various plant and animal species that call the sanctuary home.

Tourism and Conservation Balance: The sanctuary's blooming cycle of Kurinji flowers attracted tourists and nature enthusiasts from around the world. While tourism could contribute to local economies, it also posed challenges to maintaining the ecological balance. Efforts were made to promote responsible tourism that would minimize negative impacts on the environment.

Cultural Significance: The Kurinji flowers have cultural and traditional significance for local communities. They are often associated with rituals and celebrations in the region.

Kurinjimala Sanctuary Area

The Kurinjimala Sanctuary covers an approximate area of about 32 square kilometers. It is located in the Idukki district of the state of Kerala, India. This sanctuary is a part of the larger Western Ghats mountain range, which is known for its rich biodiversity and unique ecosystems.

The sanctuary's relatively small area is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including the famous Kurinji flowers that bloom en masse every 12 years. 

Kurinjimala Sanctuary Flora

The Kurinjimala Sanctuary is renowned for its rich and diverse flora, which includes a variety of plant species adapted to the Western Ghats ecosystem. Here are some of the notable types of flora found in the sanctuary:

(1) Kurinji Flowers (Strobilanthes kunthiana):

These are the most famous inhabitants of the sanctuary. Kurinji flowers bloom en masse once every 12 years, covering the hills in a stunning blanket of blue-purple blossoms. The name "Kurinji" translates to "hills" in the local language.

(2) Shola Forests:

The sanctuary is characterized by shola forests, which are unique montane evergreen forests found in the Western Ghats. Shola forests are known for their stunted trees, and they play a critical role in maintaining water catchment areas and supporting biodiversity.

(3) Grasslands:

The hills and valleys of the sanctuary are covered in grasslands that provide habitat for various plant species. These grasslands are an essential part of the ecosystem and support a variety of wildlife.

(4) Orchids:

The Western Ghats is home to a wide variety of orchid species, and some of them are found in the Kurinjimala Sanctuary. Orchids are known for their intricate and diverse forms.

(5) Plant Species:

Here's the list of plant species :

  • Strobilanthes kunthiana (Kurinji flowers)
  • Artocarpus hirsutus (Wild Jack)
  • Epiprinus mallotiformis
  • Elaeocarpus tuberculatus
  • Garcinia gummi-gutta
  • Garcinia morella
  • Cullenia excels
  • Mangifera indica (Mango)
  • Palaquium ellipticum
  • Vateria indica (White Dammar)
  • Calophyllum elatum
  • Bischofia javanica (Bischofia tree)
  • Knema attenuata
  • Acrocarpus fraxinifolius (Pink Cedar)
  • Cinnamomum sp. (Cinnamon)
  • Holigarna ferruginea (Anjan)
  • Lophopetalum wightianum
  • Sapindus trifoliatus
  • Meliosma simplicifolia
  • Syzygium cumini (Jamun)

Kurinjimala Sanctuary Fauna (Kurinjimala Sanctuary Animals)

The Kurinjimala Sanctuary is home to a diverse range of fauna, including various animal species that inhabit its hills, forests, grasslands, and water bodies. Here are some examples of the fauna that can be found in the sanctuary:


  • Tiger
  • Nilgiri Tahr
  • Asian Elephant
  • Brown Mongoose
  • Nilgiri Langur
  • Indian Gaur
  • Sambar Deer
  • Spotted Deer
  • Indian Wild Boar
  • Malabar Giant Squirrel
  • Slender Loris
  • Indian Porcupine
  • Common Palm Civet
  • Indian Pangolin


  • Nilgiri Wood Pigeon
  • White-bellied Shortwing
  • Malabar Whistling Thrush
  • Nilgiri Flycatcher
  • Nilgiri Pipit
  • Grey-headed Bulbul
  • Black-and-orange Flycatcher 
  • Malabar Trogon
  • Painted Bush Quail
  • Indian Scimitar Babbler


  • King Cobra
  • Indian Rock Python
  • Malabar Pit Viper
  • Green Keelback
  • Indian Chameleon

Kurinjimala Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Q. In which year was Kurinjimala Sanctuary?

A. The Kurinjimala Sanctuary was established in the year 2006. It was designated as a sanctuary to protect the unique biodiversity of the Western Ghats region, including the blooming of Kurinji flowers and the conservation of various plant and animal species in the area. The sanctuary is located in the Idukki district of Kerala, India.

Q. What is Kurinjimala Sanctuary famous for?

A. The Kurinjimala Sanctuary is famous for several reasons:

(i) Kurinji Flowers: The sanctuary is particularly renowned for the mass blooming of Kurinji flowers (Strobilanthes kunthiana). These flowers bloom en masse every 12 years, covering the hills with a vibrant blue-purple carpet. This unique blooming phenomenon attracts nature enthusiasts, researchers, and tourists from around the world.

(ii) Biodiversity: The sanctuary is located in the Western Ghats, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a biodiversity hotspot. The area is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the region. The sanctuary's rich biodiversity contributes to its fame.

(iii) Scenic Beauty: The hilly landscape, shola forests, and grasslands of the sanctuary create a picturesque setting. The blooming Kurinji flowers add to the scenic beauty of the area, making it a sought-after destination for nature lovers and photographers.

(iv) Cultural Significance: The Kurinji flowers hold cultural significance for local communities. They are often associated with rituals, traditions, and celebrations, adding to the cultural importance of the sanctuary.

(v) Tourism: The periodic blooming of the Kurinji flowers has led to a boost in tourism to the area. Visitors come to witness the spectacular sight of the hills covered in a sea of blue-purple flowers, enhancing the sanctuary's popularity.

Kurinjimala Sanctuary

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