Malarikkal water lilly season: Here are some of the other exquisite flower destinations of India

There are many beautiful destinations like Kottayam's Malarikkal, famed for their flowers. Photo: Shutterstock/Dreame Walker

Are you an anthophile who loves all kinds of flowers? At a time when tourists are flocking to Kerala's Malarikkal to check out its sea of pink water lillies, you can also chalk out a plan to enjoy many other flower destinations of India.

The best part is, you don't need to spend a lot to make it to these floral hot spots, unlike the cherry blossoms in Japan or tulip fields in Holland. Here are some of the best destinations to catch scenic blooming flowers across India all year round:

Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand:
The Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. Spread over 87 sq km, amid the backdrop of the Himalayan range in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, the Valley of Flowers National Park is an ethereal sight like no other.

Over 600 species of exotic flowers including orchids, poppies, marigolds, and daisies form a heavenly spectacle as far as the eye can see. The valley is accessible only during the months of May to October, and visitors need to trek through a 17 km trail to reach the valley.

Getting there: The Valley of Flowers is not connected by any motorable road. The nearest railway station is Rishikesh which is 273 km away after which the journey is continued by road up to Govind Ghat from where the 17km trek to the valley commences.

Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir:
Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir, is known for its scenic beauty, especially the Dal Lake which is surrounded by local flora. Every year, from late March to early May, the city hosts its annual tulip festival which is home to more than 1.5 million tulips of various colours and varieties. This also boasts of being Asia’s largest Tulip Garden and is a magnificent destination you absolutely cannot miss!
Getting there: Srinagar has an international airport and is well connected by air with regular flights operating from Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh.

Shillong, Meghalaya:
One need not travel all the way to Japan to see the famous cherry blossoms in bloom. Shillong, the state capital in the northeast state of Meghalaya brags of its own Cherry Blossom Festival.

Every November, this hill station comes to life with a riot of pink hues as the Himalayan cherry blossom (scientifically known as the Prunus cerasoides) lights up parts of the East Khasi Hills where visitors can witness the stunning cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Getting there: The best way to reach Shillong by air is to fly to Guwahati, which is well-connected to major Indian cities, and then hail a taxi to Shillong which is about 125km away. The nearest railway station is also in Guwahati.

Munnar, Kerala:
Munnar is a popular hill station in South India known for its scenic natural beauty and sprawling tea plantations. Munnar is also known for Neelakurinji, a rare plant which flowers only once in twelve years and attracts tourists from across the globe.

Neelakurinji or 'Strobilanthes kunthiana' blooms in 40 or so varieties, a majority of them being blue in colour. Last bloomed in 2018, the best time to view these rare flowers is between August and October. They are next expected to bloom in the year 2030.
Getting there:
The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport which is 110km away. The nearest railway stations are at Angamaly, about 109 km away or at Ernakulam which is about 145 km away.

Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra:
Situated 25km west of Satara city in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, the Kaas Plateau is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its floral diversity. Locally known as Kaas Pathar, this area is home to 1500 plant species and 450 wildflower species including 33 endangered species.

The best time to visit is from late August to early October and prior online booking is mandatory. There are several waterfalls and tourist spots close by as well.

Getting there: The Phaltan Airport in Satara is 88km away while the Satara Railway Station is only 30km away from the Kaas Plateau. The Kaas Plateau is also accessible by road.

Yumthang Valley, Sikkim:
Situated in Northern Sikkim at a height of 3564m and surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, the Yumthang Valley is a stunning view of a rainbow hue of flowers.

Home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, there are more than 24 species of this flower here along with primroses, cobra lilies, cinquefoils, iris, poppies, louseworts and other pretty blooms.

The best time to visit is late February to mid-June as the valley is closed due to heavy snowfall during the winter.
Getting there: The nearest airport is the Pakyong Airport near Gangtok from where you need a permit to visit Yumthang due to its proximity to the Indo-China border.

From there, one needs to travel by road to Lachung from where day trips to the valley can be undertaken. For those choosing to travel by rail, the Darjeeling Railway Station is the closest, approximately 98 km away from Gangtok.

Ooty, Tamil Nadu:
The Ooty Flower Show is a major event of the Ooty Summer Festival organised by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The flower show started in the year 1896 and has been running for the last 127 years.

A large variety of indigenous and exotic species of flowers are displayed here. Some of the beautiful flowers exhibited are Carnations, Gerberas, Liliums, Alstroemeria, Tulips Iris, Asters Antirrhinum, and Begonia Balsam. The show is organised in the popular Ooty Botanical Garden.
Getting there: The nearest International Airport is Coimbatore International Airport, roughly a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Ooty.

You can visit some of these picturesque destinations over a long weekend while others may require a longer period to reach and enjoy.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick your destination, book your tickets, and don’t forget to take some stunning Insta-worthy pictures and share them with us!

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