The Tulip garden in the foothills of Zabarwan hill range on the banks of Dal lake in the city was today thrown open to tourists for the fourth season as visitors were mesmerized by the over-15 lakh flowers in full bloom.
"The Tulip garden was thrown open to visitors today and the response has been overwhelming,"
Although the regular tourist season in Kashmir valley starts late in April or early May, the addition of the Tulip garden on the list of must-see destinations in the Valley has successfully advanced the season by at least one month.
"The garden has become a big attraction for tourists as well as local residents of the Valley. Red, yellow, variegated, pink, white, orange, light blue, and magenta are the main colours of tulips that are in bloom right now," Shah said.
The Floriculture department has brought more acreage under the Tulip cultivation in the garden as nearly eight hectares are covered by the flowers presenting rainbow-like formation.
The garden was initially started over five hectares of land but new terraces are added every year.
"We have been adding extra terraces year after year. Besides Tulips, Hyacinths have been cultivated too this year and these flowers bloom in February, a month before the tulips," he said.
Shah said several varieties of annual bulbs including phlox, candytuft, antirrhinum and pansies have also been sown in the garden this year in order to prolong the blooming period.
"Tulips have a life span of just two to three weeks depending upon the temperature. Higher the temperature, lesser the life of the tulips. This year the temperature has been higher than normal .. so we are using new methods to keep the garden attractive for a longer period," he added.
Shah said over 15 lakh Tulips of 72 varieties are presently on display.
The officer said the department was planning to keep the garden open for a longer period and the efforts are likely to succeed as the requisite facilities are being acquired in near future.
Meanwhile, with the arrival of tourist season, the Floriculture department has undertaken the task of upgrading almost all the gardens in the Valley to attract tourists.
The tulip garden spread over an area of 5 hectares and earlier known as Siraj Bagh has also been rechristened Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden.
Around 1.2 million tulips of 60 varieties have been grown in this garden this year.
However China has a much larger Tulip garden.
The Shanghai flower port in Nanhui district of eastern China boasts of 28 hectare Tulip Park, which is five times larger than the Tulip garden in Kashmir.
Kashmir’s Tulip garden is far from attaining the status of being Asia’s largest park, although it can be termed as South Asia’s largest such park.
More than 3.2 million tulips of around 300 varieties are in bloom at the park as compared to Kashmir’s 1.2 million tulips of 60 varieties.
When it comes to world’s largest Tulip park, nothing beats famous Keukenhof Tulip Park of the Netherlands.
The 32-hectare park is the world's largest tulip garden.
Every year, from March to May, Keukenhof Park hosts a flower show with over seven million tulips in blossom.
Though the authorities here claim that the park will ultimately cover 50 acres of land, but that is couple of years into the future.
The authorities are unable to meet the needs of tulips bulbs.
Like in 2007 this year too authorities had to import majority of tulip needed for the park.
A 900,000 tulip bulbs out of 1.2 million were imported from Holland in 2008.
Both the Dutch Tulip Park and Chinese Tulip Park attract 700,000 and 600,000 tourists annually.
Kashmir too is lured to this massive inflow and is getting encouraging results.
In 2007, 30,000 tourists visited the garden.
Last year about 200,000 visitors were expected.
There has been another surprise as the Tulip garden was unexpectedly renamed from Siraj Bagh to Indira Gandhi Tulip Park.