SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The tourism department of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday opened a tulip garden, considered the largest of its kind in Asia, for public and tourists.
The garden, sprawling across 30 hectares of land on the foothills of Zabarwan hills overlooking Dal Lake in Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, is considered to be Asia's largest tulip garden.
Officials said over 1.5 million flowers of more than 46 varieties of tulips are in full bloom in the garden.
The department of floriculture said with the opening of the garden, a 15-day "Tulip Festival" has been kickstarted.
The festival is meant to boost tourism in Indian-controlled Kashmir during which various activities will be held to attract tourists to the famed garden, Muhammad Hussain Mir, director floriculture said. "In addition to tulips the other bulbous material grown in the garden include Hyacinths, Narcissus, Daffodils Muscaria and Iris."
Until 1998 the tulip garden was an apple orchard. Later on commercial floriculture activity was started in this garden with the technical and financial assistance of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Under the program different varieties of Tulip, Alstroemeria, Gladioli, lilium and Gerbera were introduced for study of their adaptability and growth behavior.
Later on in 2006, around 275,000 tulip bulbs were imported from the Netherlands and sown in this garden to be developed as tulip garden over one hectare. The encouraging results prompted the officials to stretch the garden further each year.
Belonging to the Liliaceae family, Tulips are best suited for dry soil of mountain areas and require small amount of water but on regular basis.
According to tourism officials, the tulip garden was developed in the region to start the tourist season well in advance. The region's tourism department has included the garden on the list of must-see destinations.