As season winds up, Tulip garden closes its door for visitors

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Srinagar, Apr 27 (UNI) The Asia's largest Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden at the foothill of Zabarwan hills, which remained a main attraction for thousands of tourists and Bollywood for about a month has been closed.

The garden overlooking famed Dal Lake advanced the tourist season by a month was inaugurated and dedicated to the people by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on March 29.

Director Floriculture, Dr G S Naqash said 74421 visitors from different parts of the country, abroad and locals visited the tulip garden.

The department earned a revenue of Rs 27. 30 lakh from entry tickets, he said.

A UNI correspondent who visited the garden last week saw just 20 per cent of the tulips as the season has almost came to an end.

The authorities had announced that entry to the garden will be through tickets as adults will have to pay Rs 50 and children Rs 20.

Parents of different schools, including government run educational institutions alleged that their children were forced to visit the garden.

This, they said, was done on the directions of higher education authorities making it necessary for every student to visit the garden after paying entry fees.

Mr Naqash said because the tulip season is coming to an end, the department is now gearing up its men and machinery to develop the garden for transplantation of other seasonal flowers.

However, this activity will take some time and the garden will remain closed for general public for time being till further orders.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who took keen interest to develop the garden said this had filled the gap as tourist season normally started in May every year.

Giving an idea of the development of the Tulip Garden, Mr Azad said that in December 2005, 30,000 tulip bulbs were sown in the garden and extended to three lakh bulbs in December 2006.

He said the garden was further extended by sowing 12 lakh bulbs last winter, making it the Asia's largest tulip garden. In all, 60 varieties of early, mid, late and very late blooming tulips spread a rainbow of red, orange, purple, white, pink, parrot and yellow colours on the garden.

The Chief Minister said there was plan for further extension to 20 lakh bulbs next year.

The garden, he said, was being developed in terraces, three of which had already been laid while two more would be laid next year.

He said while he would not like to compare the garden with Shalimar and Nishat Gardens but the Tulip Garden would be double the size of the Mughal Gardens by next year.

UNI BAS MYK GT BD1115

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