Jammu and Kashmir's Tulip Garden will be thrown open to the public on Thursday, marking the beginning of the new tourism season in the region. Overlooking the famous Dal Lake, it is Asia's largest tulip garden.
Previously known as Siraj Bagh, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden was opened in 2008 by then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Spread over 30 hectares in the foothills of snow-clad Zabarwan Range, the idea of the garden was conceived to advance the tourism season in the Valley by two months.
Tulip Garden incharge Inam Rehman Sofi said the department has planted nearly 15 lakh bulbs of different varieties this year.
"The garden has so far achieved a bloom of about 25 per cent," he added.
The official said the garden houses 62 varieties of tulips this year. The average lifespan of tulip flowers is three-four weeks, but heavy rain or too much heat can destroy them.
The Floriculture Department plants tulip bulbs in a phased manner so that the flowers remain in the garden for a month or more.
The Tourism Department has planned a cultural programme at the garden in the first week of next month as part of the beginning of the new tourism season in the Valley.
The aim of setting up the largest tulip garden in Asia was to give another choice to tourists and to advance the tourism season, which used to begin in May every year.
The garden has been a success story with thousands of tourists thronging it every year during the three weeks of its bloom.
However, the garden will be opened after the gap of two years as it remained closed for the visitors due to the coronavirus lockdown last year.
Officials said the Floriculture Department has put in place adequate measures to ensure the implementation of the standard operating procedures in letter and spirit.
No visitor would be allowed to enter the garden without the face masks, the officials said, adding that thermal scanners and sanitisers would be available for them at the garden.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted pictures and urged people to visit Jammu and Kashmir and wiitness the scenic Tulip festival.
"Tomorrow, 25th March is special for Jammu and Kashmir. A majestic tulip garden on the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains will open for visitors. The Garden will see over 15 lakh flowers of more than 64 varieties in bloom. Whenever you get the opportunity, do visit Jammu and Kashmir and witness the scenic Tulip festival. In addition to the tulips, you will experience the warm hospitality of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.