When most of the world hears the name “Kashmir”, they are immediately reminded of the wars and mayhem that have been plaguing the beautiful land for years. Kasmir has been the epicenter of a complex political debate for years but one thing is for certain— no one has suffered more and knows the ground reality of the situation more than the residents of the war-torn land. But Kashmiris have learned to find and create beauty even in the land of smoke and bullets. You will find serenity, pathos, and magnificence when you read an Agha Shahid Ali poem or view a Masood Hussain painting born out of a bloody canvas. The homeland is paradoxically both the source of grief and a serene muse for the people of Kashmir. The beauty of Kashmir can hardly be described in words.
Kashmir is a land of natural beauty but war is a man-made invention. Amidst the chaos and destruction inflicted by man on the scarred land there also exists, again paradoxically, some wonderful exhibits of man-made beauty. One such example is the Tulip Garden, located in the heart of Kashmir in Srinagar, which is also Asia’s largest tulip garden. It is known as the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden and is situated between the picturesque Dal Lake and the majestic Zabarwan Hills. A classic flower such as a tulip symbolizes unconditional love — a perfect metaphor to describe the relationship between Kashmiris and their homeland.
The tulip Garden spans an area of 30 hectares. It was inaugurated in 2007 by the former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad with the objective of boosting floriculture and tourism in the Kashmir Valley. Azad’s idea was to bridge the gap between the winter and summer tourist seasons in the valley with the tulip garden, as a primary tourist attraction. It was previously known as Siraj Bagh. This year the garden will exhibit the blooming of 68 different varieties of tulips. The garden’s in-charge said that besides 15 lakh tulips of different colors and hues, there will also be other spring flowers on display such as hyacinth, muscari, daffodils, and cyclamens. This year, the garden’s fountain channel has also been extended. To ensure that the tulip flowers stay for more than a month, the floriculture department planted the tulip bulbs in a phased manner.
Manoj Sinha, Jammu & Kashmir’s lieutenant general
We can go on discussing everything wrong when it comes to the political situation in Kashmir another day. Even though the tulip garden may seem like a drop in the ocean, a work of beauty such as this symbolizes everything right with Kashmir.
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