Behind the fabled tulips of Kashmir lies a poignant story. Many thousands of years ago, a lost flower bulb found itself wandering far away from home. It passed by the gardens of Persia, the streets of Turkey, the walls of China, and it wasn’t until it reached a valley some call paradise that it settled for a home. This is how tulip came to be in the valley of Kashmir, and nurtured through the love and undying perseverance of its people, it bloomed in the most hypnotic reaches of the region.
Today, at the Zabarwan range at Srinagar where the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden lies, the magical Tulip Festival celebrates the very legend of the flower in full bloom. If you plan on a mesmerising spring excursion, then enjoying the ongoing grand festival in the first half of April should be high up on your list. Couple it with a rejuvenating stay at The LaLiT Grand Palace Srinagar, the finest luxury and spa hotel in Kashmir, and you have yourself a spring worth remembering. But remember, like Japan’s sakura (cherry blossoms), the flowering season is short-lived, that is, from late March to early April.
A floral revelry
It was in 2007 that the Tulip Festival was started in Kashmir to celebrate its cherished flowers and bolster tourism. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden spread across 30 acres of land is the largest of its kind in Asia, and along with seven terraces harbouring tulips of different gorgeous shades, also offers stunning vistas of the Dal Lake.
It is estimated that around 2 million tulips bloom here, thus making for a breath-taking sight for flower aficionados, horticulturalists, tourists, and locals alike. One can also spot daffodils, hyacinths, and ranunculus in the garden.
Amongst the plethora of beautiful tulip varieties, the most notable ones include the tall and pale Rembrandt tulips, the exotic near-black Queen of the Night tulips, double-coloured hybrids, and the multi-layered double blooms.
Of course, the festival brings together the culture of Kashmir in its most spectacular form. One can enjoy folk dances, local handicrafts, souvenirs, and the famous Kashmiri cuisine. For those who want to explore more, the nearby attractions of Chashme Shashi Garden and Pari Mahal are wonderful options.
Retire in luxury
For the ultimate retreat in Kashmir, there is always The LaLiT Grand Palace Srinagar. With vistas of Chinar trees, the mountains and the Dal Lake, there is nothing better than retiring in one of the palace rooms or the luxurious cottages after a day spent with tulips.
In spring, the historic 5-star heritage hotel comes into a life of its own. Whether you wish to cool down in an all-weather swimming pool or take a few swings at the adjacent golf course next morning, The LaLiT Grand Palace Srinagar evokes a spirit of rejuvenation that is symbolised by the spring season. For a more relaxing experience, a visit to Rejuve The Spa is highly recommended. The cosy warmth and hospitality is reminiscent of the finest 5-star and boutique hotels in India where the travellers and the staff enjoy a special bond of cordiality. And all the various Kashmiri delights you might savour at the Tulip Festival can be enjoyed in truly royal style at The Chinar multi-cuisine restaurant’s grand buffet!
So, pack your bags and head over to the royal residences of tulips!