The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) earned a collection of Rs 1,05,000 in three days from the Munnar-Killipara services alone during the Diwali holidays. According to officials, over 3,000 travellers boarded the special bus services to enjoy the sight of Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) blossoms at Kallipara in Santhanpara panchayat, Idukki district of Kerala.
KSRTC arranged services to Killipara from Pooppara and Udumbanchola also.
Meanwhile, the local panchayat collected around Rs eight lakh as entry fees from visitors to the Engineer Hill at Kallipara, where the flowers have bloomed. According to panchayat officials, over two lakh tourists have reached the area after the Neelakurinji flowers appeared on October 7. Even though the flowers have now started to wilt, the steady stream of visitors is still continuing.
Earlier, anticipating a heavy rush during the Diwali holidays, the panchayat, police and Forest Department authorities had made elaborate arrangements. As a result, there were no traffic blocks on Kochi-Dhanushkodi National Highway and Munnar-Kumily state highway. Moreover, even though visitors had to trek 1.5 km on the hill to reach the spot where the flowers had bloomed, there were no queues.
The effort of the Haritha Karma Sena and voluntary organisations who removed plastic and other waste materials in a timely manner from the hills was also praiseworthy.
Officials who led the initiatives included Munnar Deputy Superintendent of Police K R Manoj, Santhanpara circle inspector Manoj Kumar, Santhanpara panchayat president Liju Varghese, secretary A Ramshad and Santhanpara forest officer C K Sujith.
Most hotels in the Munnar area witnessed full advance booking during the Diwali holidays. Visitors also thronged Mattupetty and Rajamala. Many travellers headed to Eravikulam national park to watch the Nilgiri tahr. Roads to Thekkady, Ramakalmedu and Vagamon were also choked with vehicles.
Crowds at dams
Dams in Idukki district were crowded during Diwali holidays. The Idukki-Cheruthoni Dam, which had lifted shutters in July, is open for visitors till October 31. Meanwhile, tourists also reached various corners of the Malankara Dam reservoir, which has an area of 11 sq km.