Picture a contour of snow-tipped peaks overlooking the placid waters of the Dal lake. And nestled in its lap a grand silken carpet woven with colorful tulip blooms, with a lullaby of winds in the background. At the Indira Gandhi Memorial Garden in Srinagar, such poetry by nature comes alive.
Also known as Sriraj Bagh, it is Asia's largest tulip garden and is famous for its annual 'Tulip festival.'
The first fortnight of April in Srinagar is a perfect time for the festival for the tulips are in full bloom. The event is akin to the tulip festival in Holland and draws a large number of visitors.
Currently, in its eighth edition, the festival was launched in 2007 to boost tourism in the Valley. The overwhelming response it has evoked over the years has extended the tourist season in Kashmir by two months.
To a visitor, the garden gates lead to a spectacular vista of rows upon rows of blooming tulips stretching over five hectares. The flowers are in shades of red, yellow-orange, pink, white and magenta. A row of magenta blooms will have right next to it another row of magenta flowers but with hints of contrasting hues.
For me, the light blue tulips were particularly eye-catching. The petals were tipped with an outline of inky blue and seemed to open up to the sun a petal at a time. Fresh dew drops sat on the petals like jewels, making them sparkle in the sun. Above all, the symmetry of the flowers was breathtaking.
The floral carpet spread out until the foot of the Zabrawan range. Captivated by the riot of color, I walked deeper into this paradise and sensed a fragrance. The light winds made the blooms sway delicately and the quiet waters of the Dal ripple gently.