Spring is here and love is in the air. Flowers and love go hand in hand and this series is dedicated to gorgeous spring blooms from all over the world. In the first post on this series, I shared a top secret offbeat destination in Thailand called the Red Lotus Sea. Possibly the pinkest place on earth, Red Lotus Sea is a visual delight. Our Indian spring is not to be left behind and Kashmir literally gets carpeted with flowers during this time. From the multi-tiered grand Nishat Bagh to the intrepid Badamwari, the whole valley is one large flower bowl. Kashmir’s flower fetish does not end here and its quintessential wooden shikaras (gondolas) slice through the riotously blooming lotus forests with their heart-shaped oars. Needless to say, Kashmir is quite a floral paradise in spring and to top it all, every year the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Board celebrates the spectacular Srinagar Tulip Festival.
Come April and its time for Kashmir to host the Srinagar Tulip Festival
Held every year in April at the foot of the Zabarwan Range, Srinagar Tulip Festival is a sight to behold. Touted as the largest of its kind in Asia, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden spreads over 12 hectares and holds more than 10 lakhs bulbs. Blooming starts when the sun basks the valley in a crisp toasty way making the Zabarwan foothill get carpeted with rows of smiling cups of colours. More than 70 varieties of tulips bloom at Srinagar Tulip Garden and along with them come groves of daffodils, irises and hyacinths. I had seen endless photos of the beautiful flower festival on the internet before actually experiencing it in reality and although the pictures had been breathtaking, they had not prepared me for the magic of the garden. It was a weekday when I left the rippling silver waters of the Dal Lake to head over to the Tulip Garden and a small, yet steady stream of visitors walked uphill to the venue. Chinars stood in silent rows on both sides of the road and the sun was unseasonably warm for a spring day.
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Tulips, willows, almond blossoms and the mighty Zabarwan Range
The heat made the bees buzz aloud from the horticulture parks and street vendors hawked souvenirs, water, cold drinks near the ticket booth. The entrance to the famous Srinagar Tulip Festival was deceptively bland with a few beds of flowers in various stages of bloom, but the scene changed the moment I explored deeper. The vista of rows of multicoloured flower beds smiling up to a blue sky from the shadow of the craggy Zabarwan Range opened up suddenly and I nearly gasped out loud at the sight of such tremendous beauty. Drooping feathery willows interspersed in between the tulip beds and in one corner heavily blossoming almond trees created a natural boundary of white flowers.
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Purple, Yellow, Red, or White, what is your favourite colour at the Srinagar Tulip Festival?
The colours were of a mind-boggling range and delicate peaches, pristine whites, moody purples, deep scarlets and fiery yellows swayed in the heady April sunshine. Shapes and sizes of the tulips too came in various types and from the regular cup-shaped beauties to the fray edged rare white blooms, the entire garden was a magnificent bouquet. Tourists milled about in pairs and with young families making a lot of noise and the large black jackdaws cawed out loud. Yet nothing affected the grandeur of the Srinagar Tulip Garden and the sight of the flowers simply melted away the annoyances.
Lovesick couples and a quiet spot at the Srinagar Tulip Festival
I walked along the garden which stretched into the undulating green borders of the mountains and from different angles, the tulip festival seemed to open up more breathtaking vistas. It was just too beautiful to be real and I sat down on a bench under a blooming almond tree to take in the spectacular sight in peace. At my feet, rows of blazing yellow tulips unfurled in rows and above my head shy almond blossoms clustered. It was at a quiet corner of the garden where apart from lovesick couples, not many visitors wandered in and I was left alone to enjoy my solitude in peace. Only the snip snip of gardeners’ scissors filled the air and one of them hummed a local song from the dense obscurity of the tulip blossoms. The flowers there were in full maturity and they faced the sun in glorious defiance.
The incredible experience called the Srinagar Tulip Festival
Outlandish names like Laptop and Margaritas neatly placarded off the different rows and it was a beautiful spring day, just as good as they get. It reminded me of a lovely wild cherry spring in Kodaikanal (you can read about it here) and my memories flew past in flowery hues. I did nothing much that day except to reminisce the magical beauty of the garden and in the evening, when the aromatic smoke of barbecuing beef skewers curled from every corner of Khayam Chowk, I silently thanked my “travel fairy godmother” for presenting me with such an incredible experience. Someone has truly and wisely advised, “Let life surprise you and you will never be disappointed” and Srinagar Tulip Festival was as lovely as a surprise can ever be.
Srinagar Tulip Festival Travel Facts
The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden is located at Siraj Bagh Cheshmashahi, in Srinagar, Kashmir in India. It is a very popular location and easily accessible by road. The flowers bloom only for about 15 days in a year and depend on the temperature for the blossoming. Checking the dates of the festival closer to the expected time, between the end of March and early April makes the visit better prepared and you run lower risks of the disappointment of witnessing closed buds. The entry fees to the gardens are Rs. 50 for adults and Rs. 25 for children. The garden is open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM every day. For more information, check out the official Srinagar Tulip Garden website or look for updates on the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism page.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE