Soant, Spring in Kashmir
Flowering trees all around, expanses of yellow
mustard fields, chirping birds and plush green meadows
dotted with daisies: this is spring spectacle in
Kashmir. As the cold, dark and short days of winter give
way to bright, warm sunny days, life starts picking up
with all its magnificence.
The harsh winter chill virtually jams life in Kashmir and the environs look dull and silent. Except the snow, the beauty of Kashmir gets shrouded in gloomy winter days. And in spring, it seems as if this beauty wakes up from its sleep and moves around like an alluring damsel. In the home lawns and gardens, the flowers like daisy, narcissus and daffodils herald a new life, bringing cheer on the winter-weary people.
In this season, all around one can see various flowering fruit trees, including cherry, apple, apricot and almond in full blossom. This pinkish, purple and white riot of colours creates a heavenly ambience. While walking in orchards - apple and almonds, the fragrance soothes the soul. "The walk in these blossoming gardens is a luxury; the magnificent view mixed with the fragrance makes a cocktail of ultimate beauty," expresses Muhammad Maqbool Faiq, a poet and a nature lover. Due to abundant snowfall and rains in winter, the blossoming of the fruit orchards is rich this time.
The season enlivens the birds as well, as Kashmir's native birds including sparrows, bulbuls, Mynas and doves are chirping around, seen collecting straws to rebuild their nests damaged in winter.
The breeze around is calm and soothing. In fact, the spring winds are used as symbols of love and kindness by poets in Kashmir. Though mornings in Kashmir are generally cool and breezy, but they are balmy in spring. The early morning chirping of birds when mixes with soft wind rustling gently through the tree tops creates a mesmerising symphony, cheering even the gloomiest moods.
These yellow vast fields, which stimulate the imagination at first look, are an adorable feast to the spring visitors of the Valley. Mustard is grown in a number of fertile plains here. And as its flowers sprout in spring, the lush yellow fields present a captivating spectacle. The view is so irresistible that few can afford not to relish this yellow delight. As one walks through these booming fields, the fragrance and the buzzing of bees create an idyllic scene of beauty and splendour. Like fruits, the favourable weather in winter has helped booming mustard crop this season. Though for its cultivators mustard is just a Rabi crop to add to the family income, but their toil is an important ingredient to the spectacular spring of Kashmir.
Traditionally on the arrival of spring, the Mughal gardens of Nishat, Shalimar and Chashma-Shahi in Srinagar are thrown open to visitors. But since past five years, Srinagar's Tulip Garden has emerged as the most famous spring beauty landmark of the Valley. Situated in the lap of Zabarwan hills, this Asia largest tulip garden has become the major attraction for the tourists who visit Kashmir in spring and early summer days. With the expansion the total number of tulips in the garden has reached 20 million. In the sprawling garden overlooking the Dal Lake, the myriad colours of tulips are in full bloom, adding to the spring mosaic of Kashmir.
Almond Alcove in Srinagar, locally known as 'Badam Vaer' is one of the fabled beauty spots of Kashmir which traditionally has been used for spring festivities. Elders fondlyrecall how they used to celebrate spring in Badam Vaer under the purple hues and fragrance of flowering almond trees. This garden was lost due to political strife and many other reasons, but remaining part of it was revived in 2008 by the J&K Bank. Since then, it is being thronged by people in spring.
Noted poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef says that Badam Vaer has historical and cultural significance for Kashmir. "It has shrines of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs around it; thus a powerful symbol of Kashmiryat, the communal harmony of the inhabitants," said Zareef, who has eulogised the importance of garden in a Kashmiri poem which is regarded a literary masterpiece. Now that Badam Vaer is again becoming a cultural emblem of Kashmir, Zareef says "Kashmiris are resurrecting their culture and heritage, lost in years of bloody political strife.