Junaid Ahmad Khan
This is a story worth telling. There was once a flower that wandered around the world, but was unable to find itself a home, the flower bulb wandered about in Persia, China and Turkey, until it finally landed up in the beautiful valley of Kashmir, thanks to unknown benefactors, who planted it there.
The flower enjoyed the climate and the soil and the inhabitants tended it with love and affection. In turn, it rewarded them a bountiful bloom of one of nature’s most beautiful of flowers. This is the story of the flower-the magnificent Tulip. Formerly known as Siraj Bagh, the Tulip Garden, situated in the foothills of the Zabarwan range in Srinagar, overlooking the Dal Lake, plays host to Asia’s largest Tulip Flower Show.
The Tulip garden, which is built on a sloping ground in a terraced fashion, has seven terraces. The garden was established to boost floriculture and eco-tourism in Kashmir valley. It was inaugurated in 2008 and is spread across 30 hectares. This year, about 51 varieties of Tulip flowers are in bloom, in a rainbow of colors. They range from simple whites to blushing pinks, from fiery reds to golden yellows, from hybrids with double colors to the very rare and exotic near black Tulip, the Night Queen.
The Tulip festival is an annual celebration that aims to showcase the range of flowers in the garden as a part of tourism promotion efforts. It is organized every year, during the onset of spring season in Kashmir valley.
The Floriculture Department plants Tulip bulbs in a phased manner so that the flowers remain in the garden for a month or more. This year the Department has planted nearly 12 lakh bulbs of different varieties out of which four lakh fresh bulbs have been imported.
The Tulip Garden in Srinagar is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world. The period from March to May is considered as the best time to visit the garden, but April is also a favorite month among flower lovers. Every year in the month of April, the Tulip Festival is celebrated wherein tourists can enjoy breathtaking views of the gardens at its full bloom. The festivity is accompanied by several cultural programs.
The garden in the backdrop of mighty Zabarwan range of mountains, was thrown open for public, including tourists and locals, on Sunday, where about 3000 people visited the on the first day.
—The author can be reached at: Junaidahmadkhanrk@gmail.com