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Travelling to see the flowers

Aditi Sengupta | Updated on December 25, 2019 Published on December 24, 2019

A travel list for anyone who loves petals and blooms

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

A walk along Ullswater, the second largest lake in the English Lake District, inspired William Wordsworth to pen I wandered lonely as a cloud, one of his most famous poems, in 1804. The daffodils, as recorded by his sister Dorothy in a diary, were indeed glorious and impossible to miss.

Daffodils are still as pretty, whether in England or in the Indian Himalayas. And the fragrance of roses — that uncrowned favourite of the flower kingdom — stirs romance in many hearts. The beauty of Japan’s picture-perfect landscapes is accentuated by the delicate cherry blossom. And the tulips of Holland are firmly etched in Bollywood’s Yash Chopra legacy.

If you want to admire these flowers — and many more — follow our list of must-visit places.

Tulips

The Indian cinema-goer woke up to the charms of the tulip with the Yash Chopra film Silsila (1981). The very garden where Amitabh Bachchan romanced Rekha — Keukenhof near Amsterdam — is still as colourful and attractive. According to reports, more than 7 million bulbs are planted every year. The flowers (apart from tulips, there are roses, irises, hyacinths, orchids and carnations) are in bloom between April and May every year. An easy day trip from Amsterdam, Keukenhof also offers cycling tracks and boat rides. There are windmills too — for that Instagram-worthy frame!

 

If a trip to Holland looks difficult, Kashmir’s tulip garden in Srinagar, which opens for two weeks end of March, is worth a dekko. Spread over 30 hectares, the garden is located on the banks of the iconic Dal Lake.

Cherry blossom

The sakura (cherry blossom in Japanese), like the daffodils in England, has inspired haiku, paintings and even fashion. For about two weeks in April, the whole of Japan — along with parts of South Korea and also Washington DC — celebrates the first flush of pink with picnics in its countless parks and gardens. The best places to join them are Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Kanazawa and Hakodate.

Closer home, Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, has its own Cherry Blossom Festival. This, however, is held in November.

Lavender

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,

When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen

Even if you haven’t sung this song in school, we’re pretty sure you know about the gorgeous pale-purple flower that not just makes for good photographs, but also adds fragrance to many desserts, honey, soaps and essential oils. If you want to roll in the lavender fields, head to Provence in France in July. You might find yourself next to a vineyard. Or a sunflower field.

Roses

Morocco’s Valley of Roses — at the foot of the Atlas Mountains — is a feast for the senses. This is where you will find the highly fragrant Damask rose, which is used mostly in perfumes and oils. About six hours from Marrakesh, this valley grows 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of wild roses a year. And not just the fields, every house around the place has rose shrubs. Best time to visit is May and June.

Wildflowers

There is something unique about beauty that is not manicured or cultivated. Flowers in the wild — especially the ones that carpet the slopes of mountains. In spring and summer, the meadows of the Swiss Alps, another Bollywood favourite, are covered with the edelweiss, magnolia, peony, azalea and camellia.

Closer home, Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Set against the backdrop of the Himalayas, this expanse of 87 sq km is a riot of colours between March and October. Apart from flowers, this is also where the Himalayan black bear, the red fox and the flying squirrel can be found.

Aditi Sengupta

 

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Published on December 24, 2019
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