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On first day of festival, all roads led to Tulip Garden

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With return of peace, tourism to touch new heights: LG

Srinagar: If popular Bollywood number ‘Yeh Kahan Aagaye Hum…’ of Amitabh Bachhan and Rekha starrer ‘Silsila’ was to be remade, the film maker, unlike late Yash Chopra, would be spared the cost and hassles of travelling to Holland for the shoot as now it could be done very much here in Kashmir’s Tulip Garden!

Latest is that Kashmir’s famed Tulip garden reverberated with song and music Saturday as six-day ‘Tulip Festival’ kicked off after being formally inaugurated by the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha along with Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan.

Perched at the foothills of Zabarwan range overlooking the picturesque Dal Lake, Tulip garden was a treat for the music lovers – with famous singers, including rapper Badshah, singing some popular numbers to the delighted audience, which besides the heavy rush of locals also comprised good number of tourists from various parts of India, top officials of police, administration and the Tourism department

LG Sinha and Kerala Governor Khan inaugurated the Tulip Festival by cutting the ribbon and lighting a candle.

Earlier, Sinha also laid the foundation stone of ‘Ornamental Cherry Theme Garden’ at the rear side of the Tulip garden. At least 15 lakh Tulip bulbs are in full bloom at the Asia’s largest Tulip garden spread over 35 acres of land.

Speaking on the occasion, Sinha said the administration is committed to take Kashmir tourism to newer heights as peace has returned to the Valley after many decades.

He said his administration is taking several steps to increase the footfall of tourists to the Union Territory.

“Prime Minister recently stated that people of India and the rest of the world must visit Kashmir and its Tulip garden. So PM himself is the brand ambassador of tourism promotion in Kashmir. We are hoping for the bumper tourism season in Kashmir this year,” the LG said.Sinha also said more plants and varieties would be added to the garden in the coming year to extend the duration for which the garden remains open.

He said many new destinations are being opened up for tourists to extend their stay in Jammu and Kashmir.

Appealing to the tourists and filmmakers to visit and shoot in the Valley, Sinha assured them of a secure environment and all the support.

He said that Indian film industry, especially South Indian film-makers have evinced interest in shooting in Kashmir and that he has personally met some filmmakers recently. “I am hopeful to see entire Bollywood industry shooting in Kashmir including in the Tulip garden. Government will ensure elaborate security for the film-makers and actors,” Sinha said.

Sinha also urged the visitors to strictly adhere to the COVID-appropriate behavior by following the SOPs.

“Covid cases are rising in the country and in J&K UT as well. Government here is committed to deal with the challenges. Steps are being taken to contain the spread of the virus. At the same time, the UT government is committed to take the Kashmir tourist to its new heights amid Covid challenges,” the LG said.

He said Covid has been and is again a challenge. “We have put in place hi-tech testing facilities at airports and railways stations. People coming positive for Covid are being put under quarantine,” he said.

He said the Tulip garden is like an open book of poems and people like “poets and nature lovers can better explain its beauty in their own words.”

“The garden is not all about flowers, it is about throwing open job opportunities for the people and providing livelihood to hoteliers, restaurant owners and footpath vendors,” he said.

He also hoped that international cargo services will start at the Srinagar airport soon so that Kashmir products reach international market within shortest possible time.

Kerala Governor Khan said not only is Kashmir the most beautiful place in the world, people, their thoughts and their vision is beautiful as well.

“This is the people’s legacy which they have inherited from the great Reshis as the valley is the land of Sufi Reshis who have given Kashmiri people a rich culture, tradition and ethos,” he said.

Several singers, including local ones, from the Union Territory performed some of the famous numbers, enthralling the audience. But it was singer and rapper Badshah who stole the show and hearts.

Badshah treated the audience to many of his numbers, including his famous track “Abhi toh party shuru hui hai”, drawing a huge applause and whistles from them.

For many visitors it was a double treat – to visit Asia’s largest Tulip Garden and to see one of their favourites perform.

“It is such a treat for us. We knew there was some festival, but we never imagined we would see Badshah perform in front of us,” Gauri, a tourist was quoted as saying by PTI.

The tourist said the festival made their visit to Kashmir special.

“I will cherish this visit for long. It was a dream to come here and seeing all this beauty and being a part of this celebration is something I will remember and cherish for long,” she said.

Another tourist, Mahi from Dehradun, said she had heard a lot about the tulip garden but found it better than her expectations.

“This is such a beautiful place. We have enjoyed it a lot,” she said, adding that the festival was an added bonus.

A host of activities, including cultural activities, musical evenings, will be held during the festival, officials said.

On the sidelines of the festival, various stalls have been set up to display and promote the rich traditions, culture, cuisines and crafts of the Valley, they said.

This has been done so that the tourists become familiar with the Valley’s rich culture and values, the officials said.

They said the festival presents a unique opportunity to display the diverse culture and cuisine of Jammu and Kashmir.

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