Special Reports

Dal Lake: The Hot Spot of Tourism in Kashmir

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Photos: Tulip Garden and Badamwari, Srinagar

Srinagar: Dal lake and its surroundings in Kashmir present a beautiful land scape. On the slopes of Zabarwan hills there are numerous tourist resorts looking towards Dal lake.

This view in front of these gardens and in the background provides a magnificent view that fills void in one’s heart. The world-famous Mughal gardens recall the glory of imperial Mughals who were the true lovers of natural scenic beauty and took keen interest in developing such kind of gardens. Every year a large number of tourists gather around Dal lake because it serves a base camp for tourists visiting the Kashmir valley from within and outside the boarders of India. Around Dal lake one can find best boarding and lodging facilities. Also, this is the centre of valley where from one can easily move towards all directions.

After long period the fragrance of almonds and beautiful colour of Tulips is creating stir in the minds and hearts of nature lovers. The previous year like everywhere bought pain, worries and sufferings to everyone. The business remained suspended, markets closed and people locked in their houses. Like everything tourism sector also witnessed huge loss. But in the beginning of this year tourism in Kashmir again spread its wings in the white peaked valleys of Kashmir during early months of this year. Now with the opening of two world famous gardens i.e., Tulip Garden and Badamwari (Almond Garden) on the banks of Dal and Nageen lake respectively the J&K Tourism Development Authority is cordially inviting people across the globe to visit the valley of flowers. The gardens were opened by organising spring festivals which displayed the famous folk culture of Kashmir with traditional music and dance. This added beauty to blooming almond flowers and multi-colour tulips. In addition to this you can find decorated stalls displaying beautiful Kashmiri arts and crafts. To buy souvenirs and to savour Kashmiri dishes one can find everything on its way to gardens.

In the foothills of Zabarwan and Kohi Maran, there are two famous gardens in the summer capital of J&K which are admired by thousands of hearts every day and every year. With the opening of these gardens, it is considered as formal inauguration to yearlong tourism in Kashmir. According to sources, the total number of tourists visiting the valley in the year 2020 was very low due to Corona effect. So far this year, near about 50 thousand tourists turned to Kashmir till the end of March 2021. After a gap of two years the smell of flowers blooming in Badamwari Bagh and Tulip Garden will attract more tourists if the second wave of Corona don't haunt us again.

Badamwari: The Garden of Fragrance

The Almond garden has a grand history if we look back to the pages of Kashmir history. Though dome shaped gateway is of Afghan origin but its history can be traced back to the beginning of medieval times. We know during Sultanate period there were more than 800 gardens alone in the Srinagar city. Not certain about it perhaps this garden would have been one among them. Almond flowers have five white to pale pink petals with multiple pollen laden stamens clustered around a single pistil. In the early spring, the sweet aroma of almond blossoms encircles the whole garden. Outside the garden the almond trees can be seen on the Kerawas of South Kashmir in between Pulwama and Anantnag districts.

Tulip Garden: The Garden of Colours

The Asia's largest Tulip Garden also known as Indra Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden was opened for general public in 2007. The garden is spread over an area of about 30 ha (74 acres). Since then, it gained popularity by receiving huge influx of people every year. With mixed rows of tulips of different colours it make the life of a visitor colourful. The wonderful colours of tulips between blue waters of Dal and lush green forests of Zabarwan give pleasant effect to environment. The Tulip is known by the name of 'Gulal' in the local language. This time around 1.5 million bulbs of 62 varieties have been planted in Tulip Garden. The colour of Tulips depends on the variety. Most Tulips have flowers in different shades of red, yellow, orange, pink and violet. Certain varieties have flowers made of combination of several colours. The beautiful shape and bold colour of Tulips left a permanent mark on sightseers brain.

It is not the gardens and scenic beauty of the valley that make Kashmir beautiful. It is more or less the hospitality of Kashmiri people that adds beauty to the mesmerising valley. The unique Kashmiri culture has zero tolerance for hate. That is why it warmly welcome the guests and protects them in every awkward situation.

—The author is from Jammu & Kashmir. He has completed post-graduation in history from the University of Kashmir and obtained an M.Phil. at Punjabi University Patiala. Currently, he works as a freelance writer for different newspapers as a guest writer.