For the flower lovers and visitors, it is a magical view. Over 350,000 Tulip bulbs have bloomed to full at Siraj Bagh, one of the world’s best Tulip gardens, overlooking the Dal Lake in summer capital Srinagar. The officials in the Floriculture department say that the garden has become a major attraction for the tourists in the valley.
Despite last month’s heavy snowfall and torrential rains, hundreds of tourists have visited the Siraj Bagh Tulip garden in the past three weeks. The valley has, so far, remained host to over 50,000 tourists—domestic as well as foreign—this year. The officials in the state Tourism Department expect a booming tourist season ahead. They say that the growing peace between Indian and Pakistan could instill confidence among tourists to visit Kashmir. Most of the western countries advise their citizens against visiting Kashmir.
"The Tulip cultivation is mainly aimed at attracting tourists", KB Sharma director floriculture department told the Hindustan Times. He said that they would make it world’s largest Tulip Garden by doubling its cultivation in the next two years. “Watching such a huge spread of Tulips would be a temptation for the Bollywood actors and film-makers as well", Sharma said adding “the makers of Hindi feature film silsilah had to go to Holland to shoot the portions of the film". "They (Film-makers) would not have to go there now. The Tulip bulbs cultivated and grown here have been imported from Holland", he said.
The officials in the department say that it could be a major source of income as well. They like six other main gardens including Nishat and Shalimar introduced entry system to this garden from today. "No entry fee was charged from the visitors so far. But we have fixed Rs.20 as entry fee per visitor from today”, said Sunil Misri project director. He said that chief minister Ghulam Nabbi Azad was on Tuesday scheduled to visit the garden and purchase the first ticket but could not come due to some busy schedule.
“It is quite exciting. I have seen these kinds of flowers for the first time", said Suresh Kumar, a visitor from UP. “Rs.20 does mean little against this mesmerizing scene”, he added.
Climatic conditions are greatly suited for floriculture in Kashmir. The state government is actively considering declaring floriculture as an industry. The authorities in the floriculture department say that they have launched a major drive to encourage private growers and farmers to get into the profession. "We are distributing several kinds of flowers among growers and farmers", said Misri.
He however said that for the lack of market and short life span, Tulip cultivation is not being given into private hands. “The problem with the Tulip is that it has little longevity. Marketing is also big problem. It would not be feasible for the private persons and farmers to cultivate it", he added.