Srinagar | WTNS | March 20:Asia’s largest Tulip garden, located in the Kashmir, was reopened for tourists to boost tourism in the region.
Tulips are one of the world’s most recognizable flowers and synonymous with beauty and love. And what better place to view the blooming of tulips than Kashmir, known as the paradise on Earth. The tulip garden in Srinagar, formerly known as Siraj Bagh, was open to the public on Thursday, March 25. On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared the news of the opening of Tulip garden on Twitter. Through the tweet, PM Modi even urged the people to visit Jammu and Kashmir and enjoy the picturesque views of the Tulip Garden Festival in Srinagar where nearly 15 lakh flowers of more than 64 varieties are going to uplift your spirits.
PM Modi in his tweet said “Whenever you get the opportunity, do visit Jammu and Kashmir and witness the scenic Tulip festival. In addition to the tulips, you will experience the warm hospitality of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
A senior government official welcomed many domestic and foreign tourists who flocked to the spectacular garden overlooking the Kashmir region’s iconic Dal Lake.
The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden was first opened in 2008 by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the then-chief minister of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, to attract more tourists during the 30-day flowering season.
Due to the pandemic last year, the garden remained closed for visitors and incurred huge losses. This year, however, authorities have made it mandatory for visitors to wear face masks when entering the garden, as well as follow COVID-19 operating procedures.
As per the reports of Wilayat Times, while visiting the garden on the first day, found many visitors without face masks.
Shaiq Hussain, a Floriculture Department officer, told Anadolu Agency that they had asked every visitor to wear face masks, and if any visitors remove them after entering the garden, “we request them to wear it again.”
The garden, formerly known as Siraj Bagh, is spread out over 30 hectares of land in the foothills of the snow-clad Zabarwan Range in the capital Srinagar.
The garden’s in-charge, Inam Rehman Sofi, told Anadolu Agency that this year the Floriculture Department had planted nearly 15 lakh (1.5 million) tulip bulbs of around 62 varieties.
“The garden has so far achieved a bloom of about 25%, and in the coming few days, the garden will be in full bloom,” the official said.
“You can see on the first day of its reopening, there is a huge rush of visitors. It will be a good season for tourism, hopefully,” he said in an optimistic tone.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor’s Advisor Baseer Khan Thursday said that the UT administration is carrying out a comprehensive survey to explore the new tourist destinations so that tourist go beyond Gulmarg and Pahalgam while visiting the Valley. He also said that the government has started a new project to add to the beauty of the 35 acre sprawling Tulip garden located in the Zabarwan foothills in Srinagar at the cost of Rs 10 Crore to offer more to the visitors.
Talking to reporters after throwing the world famous Asia’s largest Tulip garden open for tourists and locals, he said the government is working on a “comprehensive policy” to explore hidden and new tourist destinations. “Like we have Dodhpathri in Budgam, Basoli, Bhaderwah in Jammu areas. Tourists will have more places soon to visit beyond Gulmarg and Pahalgam,” he said.
Advisor Khan said that the garden spread over 35 acres of land presents a breathtaking view for tourists and other visitors. “J&K UT is famous for its beauty across the globe. Tulip garden adds to the beauty of Kashmir. Earlier, tourists visiting Kashmir were confined to Mughal Gardens only, but now Tulip garden is their first preference. You can see on the very first day of opening of Tulip garden, there are a lot of domestic and foreign tourists present,” he said
He said that the garden has been officially thrown open for the visitors and tourists from today onwards. “On April 3, LG Mano Sinha sir will officially inaugurate the Tulip festival wherein we will showcase Kashmir’s rich culture, cuisine, art, and handcrafts etc. That will help attract more tourists and also help promote J&K UT’s rich traditions and culture,” Advisor Khan said.
He said at present there is only 25 per cent Tulip bloom and till April 3, the garden will be in full bloom. “There will be cultural programs also. That way, we will be presenting a bouquet of love, art and culture to the people visiting the garden besides the tulip bloom,” Advisor Khan said.
He said the J&K administration has undertaken a new project at the cost of Rs 10 Crore in the backside of the garden to add more beauty to it. “That’s the phase-2 of the Tulip garden. There will be a cherry garden and other attractive trees and flowers in the backside of the garden that will be an added attraction,” Advisor Khan said and urged visitors to follow the Dos and Don’ts displayed outside the garden for following the SoPs in spirit. “While enjoying the beauty of the garden, every visitor must follow the Covid-SoPs religiously,” Advisor Khan said.
About Prime Minister Narendera Modi’s Tweet about Kashmir’s hospitality, Advisor Khan said: “Valley people are hospitable and their hospitality is famous across the globe. We urge tourists to come and enjoy the hospitality of Kashmiri people while exploring the beauty of Kashmir,” Advisor Khan said.
Kamla Kumari, a visitor from the Indian state of West Bengal, told that the garden’s beauty is breathtaking. She said she has never seen a place more beautiful than Kashmir.
“It is truly a paradise. What I can say here is that the air and surroundings are absolutely breathtaking… amazing view,” she said.
On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted pictures of the garden and urged people to visit it.
“Whenever you get the opportunity, do visit Jammu and Kashmir and witness the scenic Tulip festival. In addition to the tulips, you will experience the warm hospitality of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he had said on his Twitter handle.
Taking care of the garden is a daunting job for about 140 gardeners, half of whom are part-time employees, who are paid “peanuts” for their relentless work.
“We still get less than 120$ a month, even though many of us have been working here for over 15 years,” Javaid Ahmad, one of the gardeners told here
“This is around the clock job, and the garden’s bloom will remain for almost a month… then we have to start working on it again,” Ahmad said.
The tulip flowers survive only for 3-4 weeks, and then in June, the gardeners clean the field by taking out all the buds manually and storing them. Then again, in November, the tulip buds are planted again along with the new ones.