Yeh Kahan aa gaye hum, yun hi saath chalte chalte……
Last spring I went to Kashmir to stay with one of my dearest school friends. When she mentioned the Tulip Garden was in bloom, I couldn’t wait to head out there. She did warn me not to get my hopes high as it had been raining and the tulips in all likelihood would be damaged.
Formerly known as Siraj Bagh, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden is nestled at the base of the Zabarwan range with a perfect overview of the Dal Lake. Spread over 30 hectares of land, the garden is split into seven terraces which are a home to the 70 odd variety of tulips. It is the largest flower garden in Asia which was opened in 2007 and since then hosts the tulip festival every spring. Did you know that these flower bulbs were especially brought over from the famous Keukenhof tulip garden of Amsterdam?
I still remember the moment I walked into the garden; the fabulously shot song from Silsila started playing in the background – I swear it did 😉
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I was absolutely mesmerized by the color palette stretching in front of me; the blooms were just perfect. It was the ultimate conundrum to figure out which way to point the camera first. I wanted to capture every hue and stopped dead still when I saw the black tulips – Oh my lord! They are so exquisitely exotic. And well they are not really black but a very intensely deep purple.
It’s said that there are about 1.5 million tulip bulbs have been planted here. Each flower row is home to a single color, forming beautifully coordinated vertical stripes across the landscape. The sight is truly a joy to behold. Not just tulips, but other spring flowers are also planted here. But they pale by comparison and I think I hardly noticed any of them.
Best time to visit
Tulips generally start to bloom around mid-March and the garden generally opens by last week of March. Since the bloom time is only 20 days or so, it’s best to plan a visit in the first two weeks of April. Rains and hailstorm do dampen the beauty; so check the weather map before making the plan. The department of tourism issues a formal announcement for the gardens to be opened for the public. The annual spring festival signals the tulip bloom and is a must visit attraction for all travelers to this region.
Ambling through the lovely walkways, following the water through the many fountains and getting a peek into the traditions of Kashmir through some music and dance, the day outing at the tulip garden was just so sublime. Do not miss the various food vendors with their delectable offerings to appease one’s taste buds. I was partial to a freshly brewed cup of Kehwa from the traditional samovars. Isn’t this one just gorgeous? I confess I did think of picking it up and running away with it. But then common sense prevailed 😉
How to reach the tulip garden
The garden is very conveniently located in main Srinagar and is about 20 kms from the airport. One can book a cab to reach the gardens which are open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. everyday. Tickets are priced under INR 100 for Indians and about INR 150 for foreigners.
Things to explore near the tulip garden
I would heartily recommend stopping at this quaint cafe which serves some of the famous traditional Kashmiri delicacies like Sheermal, Noon Chai, Kehwa, etc. It is essentially the famous Mahatta photo studio converted into a tea room, complete with some gorgeous black and white photographs on the walls.
Saqlain’s Coterie in Polo View Market, just off Residency road, is quite a charming little boutique, stocked to the gills with potions and brews of great variety in glass encased shelves which lined both sides of the narrow alley like shop. Kashmir does have a monopoly of sorts on natural beauty; it abounds in great fertile soil, abundant water and perfect weather for a bountiful spring which sees flowers of every hue and variety bloom in every nook and cranny. This in turn makes for great organic produce like honey, aroma oils and cosmetic products like creams, soaps, etc. And this is a great place to shop for the same.
There is a gorgeous houseboat with the red and white signage of the Indian postal office on the Dal Lake. It is the first and only Floating Post Office in India, gloriously standing tall in a charming backdrop of the snow-clad mountains. Do check out this unique post office and its charms.
A trained Interior designer who loves to travel, photograph and write, I have done some boutique stays in limited budgets and some in extravagant heritage ones too. I specialize in using locally sourced/ made products which would provide support to the local community.
I am also an advocate of using sustainable practices in housekeeping, laundry,etc which lessens the use of harmful chemicals. The water used for such chores is clean enough to be fed into the garden directly.
You could get in touch with me for:
- Interior design services for your property
- Training and implementing of green practices at your property
- Doing an honest Travel reviews for a unique stay anywhere in the world. If you liked this review and would like for me to visit your property, please drop in a mail at email@example.com