Srinagar, Mar 16: Uncertainty is looming large over the reopening of Asia’s largest tulip garden in Srinagar.
This follows the government’s decision to close all the gardens and parks in Srinagar given the coronavirus threat.
While the flowers at Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden will take a week’s time to bloom, the department of floriculture is yet to announce the date for the opening of the facility.
“Each year garden opens after March 25. So far the date for reopening the garden has not been notified,” said Director, Floriculture department Farooq Ahmad Rather.
Given the coronavirus scare, he said the floriculture department would wait for the decision of the government. “Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic globally. So, we can’t say anything right now. Let us see what the government decides. We are also waiting for the instruction from the authorities,” he said.
Rather said a variety of hyacinth flowers have bloomed in the tulip garden. “If the temperature soars then tulips will take less time to bloom. Let us hope the tulip garden remains unaffected by coronavirus,” he said.
Spread over 600 kanals (20 kanals form one hectare) of land, the tulip cultivation has been done on 200 kanals of the garden area. Located in the foothills of the Zabarwan hills on the banks of Dal Lake, the Tulip garden is the biggest draw for the tourists visiting Kashmir.
This year, the garden is set to showcase 13 lakh tulips, which is one lakh bulbs more than last year.
“It took us almost Rs 50 to 60 lakh to buy these tulip bulbs from various countries,” Rather said.
Last year, the garden was opened on March 31 and 2.58 lakh visitors visited the garden.
“Coronavirus scare has affected our business. Travel agents are reporting mass cancellation of bookings. Even the tulip garden which was the biggest draw in the spring season is unlikely to be opened for the public,” said president Travel Agents Association of Kashmir Ashfaq Ahmad Dugg.