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Kodaikanal Flora

The "Dhobi Plant"

This Article is taken from The Friendly Post of Kodaikanal Edition - Sep -07

Nearly all through the year, as you drive down the Ghat road, especially near the curves before and after the Sacred Heart College, Shenbaganur, and after the toll tax station, right down to the forest check post at Perumalmalai, if you look up the slopes on either side of the road, you will see pure white handkerchief like ‘flowers’ with yellow orange centers, waving in the breeze. This is the ‘dhobi plant’ so called because the flowers’ look like washing strung out on lines. The large white ‘flowers’ are not flowers actually, but seapls, and the actual flower is the small yellow coloured star shape at the base. These sepals are furry to the touch. The leaves are elliptical, about 15cms. long, and deeply serrated.

This ‘dhobi plant’ belongs to Mussaenda (pronounced mus-a-end-a) family. I am sure many of you, when you have lived in the plains would have grown some of these mussaneda species. They make good pot plants and come in many shades of pink and red. They do especially well in tropical moist areas like Kerala and the west coast of Karnataka, though many avid gardeners in other parts of the country take special care to grow them. Our dhobi plant’s botanical name is Mussaenda frondosa var. hirsutissima. And it is very common on our hills, especially in ravines by streams and, because the slopes on either side of the ghat road till Perumalmalai and even further down, are generally moist, they are ideal locations for this plant. It is a well branched spreading shrub, growing as wide as its height. But its roots go deep into the rich soil of the slopes, so if you try(which you should’nt) to remove a plant, you will find it an impossible task. Not only do the roots go deep down but the spreading branches will be interlaced with many other nearby plants. Their peak flowering is from April to August.

Mussaendas belong to the family ‘Rubiaceae’ and you will be surprised when I tell you that the coffee plant belongs to this family, as do too the fragrant gardenia, the cinchona, from which quinine is extracted, and the common garden shrub of the plains, the ixora. And, hold your breath, even our drumstick tree (botanical name, Morinda) yes, the drumstick we use in our cooking. As you can see, the Rubiaceae family is a very talented family!!

There are about 40 species of Mussaenda all over the world, but they are mainly natives of tropical Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands. But these evergreen shrubs, with their flamboyant sepals of pinks and reds with lovely contrasting corollas of yellow to orange, are coveted garden plants, cultivated in colder countries in greenhouses for their decorative value. One species, Mussaenda erythrophylla has its large sepal in a bright scarlet, with the flowers a sulphur yellow. A striking colour contrast.

Many new hybrids of this plant species are being evolved as they are such colourful garden-worthy plants, but while I like them all, I have a very soft corner for our own humble ‘dhobi plant’ which is so much a part of our hills, and which has so many clean white kerchiefs nodding their heads on the moist shaded slopes of our shola forests.

- By. Girija Viraraghavan


Why in KODAIKANAL

There is no unity in all the various Association to work towards the betterment of the city? Water tankers are allowed to take water from the lake and other areas not so hygienic? Is the beauty of the tourist spots being taken away by shops? Garbage is not picked up always and the streets are strewn with rubbish The peace and quiet allowed to be disrupted by loud speakers? Trees are being cut down and buildings takig their place.. Tourists are being allowed to exploit the city and mess it up... No one is worried about the old Kodai disappearing?


Tourism Industry in India

Tourism and Leisure is the world’s largest industry, accounting for almost 11 % of world Gross Domestic Production. The industry is going through an unprecedented period of development and change and it demands a business approach that reflects and appreciates the associated complexities, challenges and opportunities.

An attempt is made in this paper to analyses the challenges faced by the tourism industry and the avenues open to the industry. It is argued that though India is, and has always been, a storehouse of intellectual and cultural wisdom and her diversity, cultural richness, and multifarious ways of living, place her in a unique position of being able to offer many culturally distinctive products to the global community, there are various factors that pose challenges to the tourist operators. Cost of tour, lack of cleanliness, and so on discourages tourists from visiting India.

It is suggested that the private sector has to consider investment in tourism from a long term perspective and create the required facilities including accommodation, time share, restaurants, entertainment facilities, shopping complexes, etc in areas identified for tourism development. Non core activities in all airports, major stations and interstate bus terminuses such as cleanliness and maintenance, luggage transportation, vehicle parking facilities, etc. should be opened up to private operators to increase efficiency and profitability.

E - Tourism is another modern business methodology in the tourism sector that addresses the needs of investors, organizations, and consumers to cut cost while improving the quality of products and services. E – Tourism is about using internet technologies to transform the way key tourism promotion, resort management support and group marketing concept are performed. It’s most visible form is online purchasing, either group package or individual package.

It is highlighted that Tourism development needs to be property guided and regulated to avoid adverse impact on the natural environment and cultural heritage, which constitutes the tourist attraction. An issue is raised that over enthusiastic state tourism boards independently project theirs as the best and the only thing, India has to offer to the extent that a competitive environment has set in amongst the states.

Above all, the most important factor that woos the tourist is safety, security and happiness that he / she feels in a place. The way tourist is treated and how they feel, influence decisively their overall reactions to a place. Once people visit a place they will form their own impressions. They will take an image away with them. Therefore it is imperative that an appeal should be made to the public to make the tourist feel at home and secure during their visit in our Place.