About 13 lakh full-bloomed flowers in Asia’s largest Tulip garden on the bank of world famous Dal Lake, presenting a magnificent look, went unnoticed this time due to nationwide lockdown to curtail the spread of Coronavirus.
The Tulip garden, which is spread over 30 hectares of land and situated in the mesmerizing foothills of the Zabarwan hills, was not thrown open for public this year for the first time since opened in 2008.
The garden, which otherwise attracts lakhs of tourists — including national and international visitors — wore a deserted look as all its gates remained closed in view of a government order shutting all gardens and parks, besides imposing restriction on movement and assembly of people in the Valley to combat COVID-19.
People associated with tourism industry were hopeful that visitors from across the world would throng in large numbers to see the tulip garden, which houses 13 lakh flowers of 55 varieties in its lap on the banks of world famous Dal Lake.
They were also hopeful that the opening of Tulip garden would mark the beginning of tourist season in the valley, which witnessed abysmal visitor footfall last year due to unrest post scrapping of Article 370 on August 5. Many famous travel portals had started bookings of tourists interested to participate in the Tulip Festival, which lasts for less than a month as the life span of Tulips are very short.
However, all the bookings were cancelled following an outbreak of Coronavirus in the country and rest of the world.
“This year 1 lakh flowers and four more varieties were added to the garden. Last year, 12 lakh bulbs were planted in the Tulip garden,” they said.
They said that the tourism department was counting on the opening of Tulip Garden for once again putting Kashmir valley in the tourism map and increasing the footfall of tourists after suffering a setback last year post August 5.
The tourists, who had booked tickets to participate in the Tulip festival, also expressed disappointment on missing the chance to view the mesmerizing natural beauty of the garden. “I had booked ticket for Kashmir specially to participate in the Tulip festival. I have heard a lot about the beauty of the garden from my friends who have visited Srinagar in the month of April. But, unfortunately the trip was cancelled because of the lockdown,” Kanika Mehta, a resident of Delhi, told UNI.
Ms Mehta said now she needs to wait for another year to visit the garden.
The tulip garden has also attracted filmmakers as shooting of various Bollywood films have taken place here in the last 10 years. Earlier known as Siraj Bagh, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden was opened in 2008 by the then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The idea of the garden spread over 30 hectors was conceived to advance the tourism season in the valley by about two months. The average life span of the tulip flower is three to four weeks, but heavy rain or too much heat can destroy it.
Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday recorded the highest single-day jump in Covid positive cases with 33 more persons, including 30 from Kashmir and three from Jammu, testing positive, taking the total number of infected people to 158. The number of deaths has risen to four in the Union Territory.