Picture this: the beautiful valley of Kashmir. A fragrant chill in the air. Frosty mountain peaks standing tall in the distance. Pale yellow sunshine streaming in from the clouds. The icy waters of the Dal Lake quivering under the light wind. Brightly-coloured flowers in full bloom all around, swaying happily in the breeze. And in the midst of it all, you standing, taking in the view, the heady scent of the zillions of flowers teasing your senses. Even Shammi Kapoor prancing around in Kashmir Ki Kali couldn't do that for you. Right?
This spring, do what nature intends you to do: that is, enjoy its beauty in all its vigour. Asia's largest tulip garden, Indira Gandhi Memorial Garden (also known as Siraj Bagh), located in the Zabrawan range, Srinagar, Kashmir, holds an annual tulip festival, a stunning visual treat for the young and old, romantic or unromantic, flower-lovers or..well, we don't know anybody who hates flowers, so...basically, anybody and everybody.
Arrival at Srinagar, check into hotel. Head to Siraj Bagh, spend the day in a riot of fragrances and colours. The day won't be complete without a shikara ride on the Dal Lake.
Set off on a spectacular drive to Sonamarg with the Sindh Nallah as your companion throughout the journey. Enjoy the lush green meadows and alpine flora. You can hitch a pony ride to Thajiwas glacier. If you are more adventurous, you can go for skiing or sledging across the frozen glacier.
The cab will take you to Pahalgam in the morning, where you will cross the village, Pampore, known for its bat factory and high-quality saffron. Next you will cover Chandanbadi, where you can do some snow sledging and also buy some dry fruits, a specialty of the place. Then you'll be taken to the famous Betaab valley where you can relax by the picturesque setting by the clear stream of the Lidder River.
Reach Gulmarg, and get onboard the Gondola ride, the highest cable car ride in the world, which will take you over snow-covered peaks, Aparwath Peak being one of them. You can also try your hand (or feet) at skiing if you didn't do that already at Sonamarg.
Head to the stunning Mughal Gardens of Srinagar for another Kashmir Ki Kali experience. Next we will take you to Hazratbal shrine, believed to be Kashmir's holiest Muslim shrine. If you have time and energy left, shop. Pashminas, wooden crafts, carpets-the list is endless.
Departure from Srinagar.
*Price is based on 2 persons travelling together
“ Gulon mein rang bhare
baad-e-naubahar chale Chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka karobar
Spring is the time when the tulips are in full bloom, and so are the hearts of lovers. With as many as sixty varieties of vibrant flowers, some imported from Holland, the setting is simply mesmerizing, and can surely set anybody's heart aflutter. Not for nothing is Kashmir known as paradise on earth.
Tourists swear by the spectacular sight the festival holds out. The sprawling five hectares of the garden are carpeted with a riot of red, yellow, orange, pink, white, light blue, and magenta-the common colours of tulips. In 2012, more than 70 tulip varieties were planted by the department of horticulture of Kashmir. The festival also sees numerous cultural programmes like showcasing and sale of local handicrafts, Kashmiri folk songs and dances, mouth-watering traditional cuisine adding charm to the already resplendent aura.
One of the most popular flower festivals in the world, and arguably the best in India, the Tulip Festival attracts tourists not only from all over India, but from all across the world. So, if you are planning to propose to your loved one, or rekindle the romance a la Amitabh-Rekha in 'Dekha Ek Khwab' from Silsila, or just wish to witness an incredible sight to cherish forever, you should so attend the tulip festival of Kashmir. Just one tip: don't lose your senses, and do come back on time (even though you wouldn't want to).