Kashmir in full bloom

Ensconced between the Dal Lake and the Zabarwan Hills, Asia’s largest tulip garden was thrown open to the public on Saturday, officials said. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, earlier known as Siraj Bagh, was opened for the public as tulips of different colours have started to bloom, Floriculture department officials said.

“The tulip garden has been thrown open to the public,” said the department`s Commissioner Secretary Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad. The department plants the tulip bulbs in a phased manner so that the flowers remain in the garden for a month or more. “When the garden blooms fully, there will be a rainbow of tulips,” department officials said.

The department added that five new varieties of tulips have been added to the existing 68 this year. It has also increased the area of the tulip garden by adding another two lakh bulbs. A record 17 lakh tulip bulbs have been planted in the garden spread over 55 hectares, the officials said.

Other spring flowers such as hyacinths, daffodils, muscari and cyclamens will also be on display to add to the variety of flowers and colours in the garden, they said. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden was set up by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the then-chief minister of the erstwhile state, in 2007 to advance the tourist season in Jammu and Kashmir that was earlier limited to summers and winters.

The garden started on a small scale with 50,000 tulip bulbs imported from The Netherlands. It instantly gained popularity and has been steadily growing each year—both in terms of the number of visitors and the tulips. More than 3.65 lakh visitors, both domestic and foreign, visited the garden last year while it witnessed a footfall of 3.60 lakh people in 2022.

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