Tulips and Their Enthralling Beauty Inaugurate the Delights and Marvels of Spring in Kashmir

Tulips and Their Enthralling Beauty Inaugurate the Delights and Marvels of Spring in Kashmir
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Ulfat Riyaz

Kashmir, home to majestic gardens, is alive with breathtaking magnificent beauty of colors. Spring is here and love is in the air. Flowers and love go hand in hand. This spring is dedicated to gorgeous tulip blooms. Kashmir literally is carpeted with flowers of 45 varieties with its terrific location at the foothills of the Zabarwan Range which add colour to the landscape at 5,600 feet altitude .The Tulip Garden close to the world-famous Dal Lake and encircled by Nishat Bagh and Chashma Shahi Garden from three sides in Siraj Bagh area of Srinagar is Asia’s largest tulip garden .It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Srinagar. Besides the dozens of varieties of tulips it is awash with the flowers like daffodils symbolizing dignity and reverence.
The Tulip Garden is located in what was earlier known as Siraj Bagh. The majestic Zabarwan range gives this colourful garden the perfect backdrop and the garden overlooks the picturesque Dal Lake of Srinagar. The tulip garden is undoubtedly the first major landscaping project undertaken since the time of Mughals established sublime spots in Kashmir in the 16th century.
The centre of origin of tulips is believed to be the Hindu Kush mountain range from where Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, is believed to have brought them to India and the rest of Asia. The word Tulip originates from Ottoman Turkish “Tulbend” and also from Persian “delband” meaning turban, on account of perceived resemblance in shape of its solitary terminal flower to that of “Turban” Symbolizing dignity and reverence. Cultivation of tulips originated in Persia, Afghanistan and Turkey probably in 10th century. Wild tulips from Iran and central Asia may have been brought to Turkey for cultivation. Tulip cultivation in Turkey became popular in Ottoman territories and is referred to as golden era of economy of the Ottoman empire and is also called Lala Devri in Turkish, meaning tulip era. Tulips affected the culture in Turkey so much that even glasses used for tea had tulip shape. These flowers were used as decorative motifs on tiles in mosques, fabrics, crockery and so on. Azerbaijan is believed to be place of origin of cultivation of Tulips centuries before its cultivation began in Persia and Turkey. The recorded history of cultivation of tulips in Kashmir is silent
Tulip Garden in Srinagar is a veritable Eden opened to visitors back in 2007. The aim was to boost tourism and floriculture in the region and the undertaking was a success. In fact, the garden was ranked among the top 5 tulip destinations in the world at the Tulip Summit in Canada in 2017. While the garden itself is a sight to behold and you could spend hours just exploring it and admiring the flowers, the highlight is the annual festival that runs in spring, between March and May. The garden was earlier known as ‘Model Floriculture Centre’ and presently is Asia’s largest tulip garden.
The boundless beauty of Kashmir is reflected in its iconic images. If autumn is about blushing Chinars and pale poplars, the multi coloured tulips and fascinating white and pink almond blossoms typify spring in the Valley. Wanda tchallih, sheen gallih, beyi yi bahar, wrote the Kashmiri poet Mehjoor, meaning — winter will end, the snow will melt and again spring will come. Such is the impact of tulips and new almond blossoms over the hearts of people in the Kashmir Valley that they cheer up and rejoice at the happy sight. It is time for rejuvenation and life appears in the new of blossoms flowering in every corner of the Valley.

—The author can be reached at: Ulfatriyaz12@gmail.com