C. indica is a rhizomatous, perennial, erect, robust herb, up to 3.5 m tall. Rhizome branching horizontally, up to 60 cm long and 10 cm in diameter, with fleshy segments resembling corms, covered with scale leaves, and thick fibrous roots. Stem fleshy, arising from the rhizome, usually 1-1.5 m tall, often tinged with purple. Leaves arranged spirally with large open sheaths, sometimes shortly petiolate;blade narrowly ovate to narrowly elliptical, up to 60 cm x 15-27 cm, entire, base rounded to cuneate, gradually attenuate to the sheath, apex acuminate, midrib prominent, underside often slightly purplish. Inflorescence terminal, racemose, usually simple but sometimes branched, bearing single or paired, irregular, bisexual flowers;bracts broadly obovate. 1-2 x 1 cm;sepals 3, ovate, acute, 1-1.5 x 0.4-0.9 cm;corolla 4-5 cm long, the lowermost 1 cm fused into a tube, lobes free;lobes 3, linear, 3-4 x 0.3-0.6 cm, pale red to yellow;androecium petaloid and forming the showy part of the flower, composed of an outer whorl of 3 staminodes and an inner whorl of 2 connate staminodes (one of which forms a large lip or labellum) and 1 fertile stamen;outer staminodes spathulate, 4-6 x 1-1.5 cm, often very unequal in length or only 2 clearly visible, fused at the base, reddish, labellum narrowly oblong-ovate, 4-5 x 0.5-0.8 cm, yellow spotted with red;stamen 4-5 cm long, petaloid portion involute, anther 0.7-1 cm long and adnate to the petaloid portion at base;ovary inferior, trilocular, style fleshy, 4-5 cm long, reddish, adnate at base to androecium. Fruit a loculicidally dehiscent ovoid capsule, 3 x 2.5 cm, outside with soft spines. Seeds numerous, globose, 0.5 cm in diameter, smooth and hard, blackish to very dark brown.