Srinagar: Noora Banoo, 76, with a thin smile, sunken eyes, thin eyebrows recalls the old days when she used to hear about Badamwari but never got to see it.
“This is the first time I came here (Badamwari), I am very happy. Today I find a little peace, I never saw this garden before, I used to hear about it,” she said.
The bloom at the almond alcove, or the Badamwari, in the foothills of Kohe Maraan is attracting a lot of local residents and tourists.
Badamwari is part of Kashmir’s history and folklore. Elderly people recall the times, when the onset of spring in the city was celebrated with family outings at the expansive gardens in the foothills of Kohe Maraan.
The vast orchards have given way to residential colonies, and the historical Badmawari has hardly left a trace, but the visitors try to relive the historic aura at the almond alcove developed by the J&K Bank under corporate social responsibility.
The 400 kanal garden is dotted with almond trees, a variety of flowers, and a joggers path. A neat environment on the bank of Nigeen lake provides a soothing experience to the visitors.
“We (J&K Bank) took over this garden from Horticulture department in 2005, and started development of this park. We have almost 70 employee here including gardeners, sweepers, security guards, housekeeping,” Jahanger Mushtaq, In charge of the park said.
“We cannot compromise in cleaning and maintenance of the park,” he said adding about two lakh people visited the garden in 2017.
Badamwari holds in its warm bosom the undercurrent of our culture. It used to invite the people to feast their eyes on the irresistible charm of almond blossoms, thus for a while forgetting the hardships caused by the freezing spell of the winter.
“Earlier Badamwari is dead, it has been consigned to history and replaced by residential colonies, but now because of the J&K bank this garden is well developed,” said Ali Mohammad, a local resident.
During the last few decades hi-tech advances have revolutionized the world and electronic-media has influenced our day to day life. Our leisure hours are consumed indoors sitting and watching TV programs. Visiting picnic spots is a rarity.
“Firstly because of our busy life schedule we never go anywhere with our family but today we decided to visit Badamwari,” said Nadeem Ahmad, a resident of Baramulla.
Nadeem found the Badamwari more soothing than the Mughal gardens.
“The best thing about this garden is that it is good place for families. Unmarried couples are not allowed. I have seen many Mughal gardens but because of this reason it looks more comfortable for family,” Nadeem said.
Although the garden was open throughout the year, the almond bloom from the second week of March brought in a huge rush of visitors.
“From March 10 to March 27 almost 60000 visitors came here to enjoy the beauty of garden,” said Riyaz Ahmad, an employee at the park.
“Only for 15 days in a year we can see the almond bloom. This garden is like a piece of heaven on earth. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen,” said Manoj Kumar, a tourist who visited the garden for first time.
He, however, complained the garden lacks a canteen, “There is no canteen facility in the garden. If we have to buy something we have to go in the main market of this area,” he said.
Ghulam Qader, a gardener at the park, said that from last year, they have started their own hybrid seedling nursery.
“We grow different types of flowers here. We using these plants not only here but in other parks too like Iqbal park, Shaheed Park in Pulwama, Wazir Bagh park , Dara Shiko park Bijbehara, Amusement Park Pahalgam, Gulnar Park Baramulla, Corporate office,” he said.
“Moreover, we have used some new flower plants this year like tulip, ranunculus hyacinths, peony and lilyam to attract more tourists here. Here we have more than 200 varieties of flowers; some of them are seasonal, bulbs, roses, shrubs, bushes, ornamentals etc. We are growing flowers in two shifts in a year (June and December) to keep the beauty of park with flowers for whole year,” he said.
“At home, I spend hours thinking what I have to do the next day. At night I keep thinking about the garden and the flowers.” Qadir said adding when people appreciate the beauty of the garden, it keeps them going.
The only thing missing in the garden, he said, is flowing water.