When Srinagar becomes more colourful...

Manjulika Pramod
Friday, 23 March 2018

...it’s got to be due to the annual tulip festival held in spring

When the sun goes up, birds chirp and the gorgeous Dal Lake comes alive. But when spring arrives, the city sits up and dances in many colours. Millions of tender, cup-shaped, bewitching flowers spread their charm in the largest tulip garden of Asia — Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden in Srinagar. 

Nestled in a beautiful vale, surrounded by the verdant Zabarwan hills and lovingly caressed by timeless Dal Lake, Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, known as Model Floriculture Center is spread like a tranquil oasis. With millions of luscious tulip flowers dazzling under the blue sky inside the green garden, the setting couldn’t have been more perfect. 

Kashmir is truly an experience, where you collect enough amazing impressions to last you a lifetime. My trip during the first week of April last year was truly worthwhile, exciting and memorable. One of the major highlights of the visit was the annual Tulip Festival, an absolutely classic experience. This year, the garden opens its gates from March 25 and the festival will go on till the last week of April. So get packing.

THERE ISN’T A BETTER TIME TO VISIT SRINAGAR
For many years, I had a deep desire to see Kashmir, so when I got an opportunity, I was excited. The timing was perfect as Mother Nature had awakened from its winter sleep. The most vibrant event was taking place in the city. 

The drive from the hotel to the garden was soothing and peaceful, but the silence was broken by the din of the crowd that had gathered outside the garden to witness the one of its kind tulip festival of India. For a moment, it didn’t feel like Kashmir, not the one that is often in the news for all wrong reasons.

Trust me, the moment I walked into the magnificent garden which was opened as Tulip Garden in the year 2007, it felt as if hundreds of rainbows had descended on earth to welcome me in the paradise. As far as the eyes could see, there were tulips, of varied colours. From orange to whites to red to blushing pinks to golden yellows, from hybrids to rare purple, the collection was spellbinding. For all these years, Netherlands Tulip Festival was on top of my list, but this was brilliant. I was proud of the fact that India had its own version and I was standing right there amidst these beauties. The moment was worth treasuring. As I made my way through rows and rows of tulips, I felt as if I were a character from a Yash Chopra movie. 

It was heartening to see visitors come down from all over the world, especially tulip aficionados. Local families with kids were enjoying their time too. To add to more constructive engagement, there were decorated kiosks and stalls at one end where people could appreciate and buy local handicraft. Some cultural events were also planned for the evening.

Each variety has separate flower beds and there was no way that one could get tired of admiring those endless rows. As I further explored the garden, it unfolded its true character — it got bigger, better and bewitching. Countless delicate beauties merged in blue and green surroundings made quite a sight. 

If you wish to experience that slice of heaven, you have to be there to see it in real. Ignore the political atmosphere and just go for it. I bet, you will bring in colourful memories.

LONG LIVE THE TULIPS!
A member of the lily family, Tulips bloom from start of the spring season. They are at their best in the first three weeks. Millions of bulbs are planted in autumn to see their magical spell in spring. These tender flowers do not bloom according to a precise calendar nor human prediction. Their growth is dependent on major factors like climate, weather and soil. And most importantly, they are tended with love and affection. With three petals and three sepals, tulip flowers make perfect cup shaped flowers. They usually thrive as a single terminal flower and are generally erect. The flowers carry a valuable symbol of friendship.

DID YOU KNOW?
- The Canadian tulip festival claims its name to fame for being the largest flower festival in the world.
- More than 150 species and 3000 varieties of tulips are known presently.
- Srinagar festival was adjudged as the second best tulip garden in the world by the World Summit Tulip Society in the year 2014.
- There was a time in Holland when tulip was the most expensive flower. They cost 10 times an average salary. It was known as Tulip Mania.

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