Nation Other News 16 Mar 2016 Asia’s largest ...

Asia’s largest Tulip Garden opens in Kashmir

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | YUSUF JAMEEL
Published Mar 16, 2016, 5:51 pm IST
Updated Mar 16, 2016, 5:51 pm IST
This garden was conceived, conceptualized and created by then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, in 2006-07 with the aim to boost floriculture and promote tourism in Kashmir Valley. (Photo: H.U. Naqash)
 This garden was conceived, conceptualized and created by then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, in 2006-07 with the aim to boost floriculture and promote tourism in Kashmir Valley. (Photo: H.U. Naqash)

Srinagar: As Spring has set in Kashmir, this year a little earlier than its usual arrival, the Asia’s largest Tulip Garden in Srinagar is attracting thousands of nature-lovers including domestic and foreign tourists to enjoy the view of plant life and around 1.3 million exotic tulips. Many of them were seen taking selfies with their cell phones.

The garden, named after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was officially thrown open to visitors on Tuesday. Spreading over an area of about 15 hectares, the garden is situated on the foothills of Zabarwan range with an overview of picturesque world famous Dal Lake. The tulips of 70 varieties adorn and add colour to the landscape at 5,600 feet altitude.

This garden was conceived, conceptualized and created by then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, in 2006-07 with the aim to boost floriculture and promote tourism in Kashmir Valley. In 2014, it was declared as the second best tulip garden in the world by World Tulip Summit Society.

Originally known as Siraj Bagh, Srinagar’s Tulip Garden has been described as a ‘flori-marvel’ by cultivators as the tulips spread a rainbow of red, orange, purple, white, pink, parrot and yellow colours on the precincts when in full bloom. About 500 gardeners and labourers have worked hard over the past few weeks to give final touches to what has become a major tourist attraction in Kashmir’s main town.

Local residents are equally enthused by beautifully laid garden next door. "The garden has started come to life with white, red, orange and purple varieties of tulips already in bloom. The full bloom is only about a week away," an official of Kashmir’s Department of Parks, Gardens and Floriculture (PG&F Kashmir) said.

He said that the department has imported around 420,000 tulip bulbs this season, mainly from Holland. As spring has set in Kashmir, the gardens and fruit orchards in the Valley are also in full bloom. Director tourism (Kashmir) Mahmood A. Shah said the Tulip Garden with its alluring colourful buds in particular will be a major attraction for the tourists.

Meanwhile, many nature lovers and stakeholders in Kashmir’s tourism industry have expressed dismay over reports that the PG&F Kashmir is planning to convert the exclusive Tulip Garden into an all-season garden by planting other flower varieties like Lilium, Dahlia, Peony, Hydrangea, and Ranunculus besides fruit trees like Pome, berry and nuts along with tulips. 

“If done, the Tulip Garden will only lose its peculiarity and won’t be known as Asia’s largest tulip garden as such then,” said houseboat owner Ghulam Nabi Karnai who has been showing Tulip Garden as one of the main attractions a furlong away in his business promotion drive.

Floriculture expert and former director of PG&F Kashmir, Dr. Ghulam Sarwar Naqash, who has been instrumental in making it Asia’s largest tulip garden retorted ‘A Big No’ when asked about the proposal. He said tulip garden in Keukenhoff, Holland opens for a limited time of about 45 days for visitors to ensure its distinctiveness.

He said that at Srinagar’s Tulip Garden it takes about 90 day to prepare the land of about eight hectares for cultivation and 30 days in bulb sowing whereas dormancy or resting of bulbs in soil and bloom period goes for 120 days from January to April. He also said that the maturity period for bulb growth is 90 days (May-July) and bulb extraction from soil and sorting, grading and drying lasts for 30 days (August).

"Now tell me how can we use the same land for any other crop and are you in a position to engage additional staff to utilise left over surrounding land,” he asked. He further said, “For all practical purposes Tulip Garden has to be a Tulip Garden. It was a gift to state by Azad Sahib which helped towards rescheduling of and promoting tourism in Kashmir whereas all other cosmetic measures for the purpose failed”.

However, the present incumbent, Talat Perwaiz, while defending the proposed move said the department will develop parts of the precincts which have remained unexploited so far by planting different kinds of flowers in different sections which will be on bloom in different seasons.

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