Asia’s largest Tulip garden here is in full bloom and is attracting tourists in hordes with nearly 1.35 lakh visitors stopping by to witness its breathtaking beauty since it opened 10 days ago.
Ensconced between the famous Dal Lake and Zabarwan Hills, the 52.5-hectare Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden presents a colourful look with 16 lakh tulip bulbs of different hues and 68 varieties in bloom in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
Tulip garden In-charge Inam-ul-Rehman said most of the visitors so far have been tourists.
"About 1.35 lakh visitors have already visited our garden. The maximum proportion, about 70 per cent, is from outside the Union territory. They are more enthusiastic," Rehman told PTI.
Last year, the garden witnessed 3.60 lakh visitors — the highest so far since it was first opened to the public.
Rehman said the department of floriculture, which manages the garden, is hopeful of a very good footfall this year as well.
Besides 16 lakh tulips, he said, the garden, also known as Siraj Bagh, has other spring flowers, such as hyacinths, daffodils, muscari, and cyclamens on display to enthral the visitors.
"This year, four new varieties of tulips have been added, bringing the total varieties to 68," Rehman said.
The garden, which presents a riot of colours, is themed around rainbow colours as seen under the foothills of Zabarwan, Rehman said.
He said the central fountain channel has been extended to higher terraces this year. There is a high-rise fountain and waterfalls, which have added to the beauty of the garden.
"We have installed ornamental lights for the evening. Many tourists stay in the garden till late evening," he added.
A tourist from Mumbai, Surmil said she has fallen in love with the garden.
"I love this place. It has been an amazing experience. The atmosphere is very nice. The weather is cool here compared to Mumbai. The people are also very nice, friendly. The garden is very big, beautiful and has colourful flowers all round," he said.
Rachna and Ayushi, who are also from Mumbai and are on their first visit to the valley, fell short of words to describe the beauty of the garden.
"This is an amazing experience, and quite a change from Mumbai. The places, the weather, the people, the colours here, everything is ethereal. We have not seen such a beautiful garden. It is literally paradise on earth," they said.
Another tourist, Devender Singh, from Rajasthan’s Jaipur, said they were "lucky" to have come to the valley while the tulips were in full bloom.
"This is our first visit. We had only heard about the tulip garden, but have now seen it. We have been lucky that it is open while we are here. I have not seen such a garden anywhere else. This is a wonderful experience. We have not seen many of the varieties of tulips which are here," Singh said.
Mesmerised by the garden’s beauty and feeling "very delighted" with her visit, Shreyas Upay, from Bikaner, said she has visited many hill stations, but, "I think this is the best place to visit." Arun Kumar, a native of Gujarat who lives in South Africa, said he has never seen anything so beautiful.
"This is mind blowing. I feel very happy to have come here. This garden is stunning. I think it is one of the most beautiful gardens, huge. So many tulips, so much beauty, many waterfalls, just so amazing. Truly a 'Jannat' (paradise)," he said. "I will keep coming here." While most of the visitors were enchanted by the sight of the flowers, and could not help but take pictures of them, some, who wanted to touch the bulbs, were dismayed at the fences surrounding the flower beds.
"I hope they have some more photographic places. They have covered the flowers with fences. We cannot go and touch tulips. It would have been amazing if we could do that," Surmil said.
The department hopes to have a large footfall of visitors and an extended duration of the bloom, provided the weather doesn't play spoilsport.
"The plants depend on the weather conditions. There is a forecast of mild temperatures (in the coming days), and in that case, their life will be extended. Otherwise, in scorching heats, their life will decrease. It is a weather dependent phenomenon," Rehman said.