And you thought they were only in Amsterdam? Rows and rows of colours, stretching for miles together that acted as the perfect backdrop for the romantic hit number of Silsila, the 70s most talked about Hindi movie. Now, you don’t really have to sigh at the inaccessibility of this riot of colours. Book yourself to Srinagar between late March and mid April and feed your senses to your heart’s content.
The first time we went through the gate, I was expecting some rows of tulips interspersed with other plants and flowers to lend relief. The moment my eyes fell on the view spread before, my jaws dropped in disbelief at the spectacular show. Rows and rows of tulips of all possible colours stretched as far as the eye could see. I was looking at ten lakh variety of tulips, and that’s quite a number. This was in 2007 when it was yet to be opened for the public. Blues, reds, yellows, whites, pinks, double coloured, shaded…name it and it was there. I believe they have increased the number now. The Zabarwan mountain ranges as the backdrop and the Dal lake in the front, the Tulip Garden has good company. It is surrounded by Chashmeshahi gardens of Shalimar and Nishat gardens, the testimony of aesthetic splendor of Mughal era with fountains, cascading water, a wonderful stone pavilion in the middle of a pool and old fragrant Champa trees.
However, the Tulip Garden is resplendent in wide range of colours, the perfect blossoms on the short stalks. Walking among them we found we were not the only ones going berserk with the camera.
Named as the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, a brain child of then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad, it is the largest tulip garden in Asia. A little away around three kilometers up the Zabarwan hill is the Pari Mahal built on th ruins of a Buddhist monastery by Dara Shikoh, a follower of sufism, for his master. It has six terraces with serene views of the Dal Lake and the surroundings overlooking the city. In the distance one can see the Char Chinar in the middle of the Dal Lake, a tiny island garden with four maple trees at the four corners. A visit to Pari Mahal fills one with calm and one doesn't mind sitting there just watching the world go by.