Srinagar, May 7 UNI | 3 months ago

Asia's largest tulip garden overlooking, world famous Dal Lake, on the foot of Zabarwan hills which was thrown open on April 5 with less number of gulilalas, has been closed from today.

According to Director Floriculture with Tulip Bloom-2014 over the Indra Gandhi Tulip Garden, Siraj Bagh, Cheshmashai will remain closed for the general public today.

Because of chilly winds following heavy snowfall and rains during the month of February and March tulips could not bloom, delaying the opening of the garden. Despite the fact the garden was thrown open after a delay of 11 days against 2013, when it was thrown open on March 24 because of good weather during February and March, gulilalas were missing this time, when there were 10 lakh tulips in the garden. However, as the weather improves, large number of tulips were seen in full bloom, receiving thousands of tourists, locals and filmmakers. Last year, more than 1.50 lakh tourists and locals visited the garden. After record tourists, including skiers and adventure lovers, this winter officials were expecting record tourists this summer, with tulip garden first summer destination in Kashmir.

Inaugurated by UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on March 29, 2008, the tulip garden has advanced the tourist season in Kashmir valley by about two months as earlier tourists used to throng Kashmir in the last week of May every year. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was the brain behind the garden, development of which actually started in 2005.

At the foothill of Zabarwan hills, the garden has emerged as a major attraction for tourists across the world besides locals and Bollywood, as number of scenes were filmed in the garden since the garden was developed. In all, 70 varieties of early, mid, late and very late blooming tulips spread a rainbow of red, orange, purple, white, pink, parrot and yellow colours on the garden. The tulip bulbs are better than Holland because of suitable temperature, soil and water, the officials claimed.

However, they said lack of proper infrastructure has affected their efforts to preserve bulbs in a proper and scientific way. "We do not have proper post harvesting infrastructure following which some ordinary arrangements were made to preserve the bulbs," they said, adding that there is no such facility in any part of India.

"When the temperature goes up in summer, we face problems to preserve the bulbs. We make ordinary arrangements so that the temperature in the huts, where these bulbs are kept after post harvesting, is maintained,' they said adding, "We cover the huts with 'grass chataiyee' and later pour water on them to maintain proper temperature which sometime doesn't not prove effective."

The officials said experts of Holland, who visited the garden and trained people in the past, were surprised to see the bulbs in the garden. "Despite the fact that we are doing here everything manually, our bulbs are best in the world," the officials claimed.

(Posted on 08-05-2014)