Sount, The Blooms & Beginnings

Spring or سونٛتھ (Sount) as it is known as in the Kashmiri Language is the time of the year when the nature bids adieu to the chilling winter & welcomes the blooming flowers, chirping birds & the beautiful greenery takes over the entire place. 

Kashmir, our very own paradise unfreezes from a long, cold winter as people after a wait of four months open their windows to a rejuvenating, fresh breeze as the sun begins to shine bright, the glaciers start to melt into fierce flowing rivers and the life begins to sprout from the mother earth. In Kashmir, people celebrate the arrival of spring with the festival of Nowruz which originated in the mystic lands of Persia, the modern day Iran around 3000 years back. This ancient festival is usually celebrated by the preparation of “Haft Seen” which refers to seven items starting with the letter S symbolizing the renewed hope for the new year.

A white tulip.

Traveling around Kashmir in the season of Spring is like being in a fairytale as the place looks vibrant with blossoms of almonds, cherry, apple as well as the millions of flowers such as tulips, narcissus, daisies  which start to bloom along with the acres of yellow mustard fields which truly are a sight to behold.

Almond Orchards, Ompora – Budgam.

There is quite an interesting story when it comes to the almond blossoms in Kashmir. The legend has it that Akbar, the Mughal emperor had a deep desire to witness the spectacle of almond blossoms. However when he was scheduled to arrive in Kashmir, the blossoms would’ve been long gone from the trees. So, the locals came up with an interesting idea of stuffing snow near the roots of the trees, thus not allowing the branches to blossom at springtime & when Akbar finally arrived in Kashmir, the snow was removed & the trees blossomed. 

Although the whole place is bathed in the glorious sunshine & the lively colors are at show everywhere, Below are my four favorite places to visit in Kashmir during springtime.

Almond Blossoms, Badamwari.

(1) Badamwari, Srinagar.
Badamwari or Badamvaer, a place rooted in the history of Kashmir is a garden studded with thousands of almond trees & flowers. There is no historical evidence to suggest who laid the foundation to this garden, however the historians do indicate that the garden existed even before the rule of Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen in the 14th Century. Badamwari is also home “Warris shah’s well” the well which is a covered dome or more commonly referred to as “the well of death”. It is said that in the olden times, it was a ritual of many families especially the pandit families who after paying a visit to Hari Parbat shrine used to come to Badamwari and enjoy Kehwa & Nadre Monj (lotus stem fritters) & used to celebrate the festival of Navreh as thier new year festival. This enchanting garden is a must visit for all who can’t help but fall in love with the blossoms as this place is not just a garden but a unique part of the local history. 

Some of the many tulips in the tulip garden.

(2) Tulip Garden, Srinagar.
Spread over an area of around 30 hectares, overlooking the world famous Dal Lake, the Tulip Garden in Kashmir is the largest tulip garden of Asia. Tulip garden consists of seven terraced slopes & is home to about 15 Lakh varieties of tulip which were brought in straight from Netherlands. Besides Tulips, the garden also consists of other varieties of flowers like daffodils, hyacinths. The Tulip garden for me is the most beautiful experience a person can have in springtime in Kashmir. As soon as you enter, millions of tulip embrace you & all you see are Tulips as far as your eyes can go. I would highly recommend a visit to the Tulip Garden as it is on show for only 2/3 months.

Lush, Yellow Mustard fields, Pampore.

(3) Mustard Fields, Pampore.
Nothing uplifts the mood of a person than the lush, yellow fields of mustard blooms under a vast blanket of sky which truly gives the valley of the saints a surreal look. Mustard crop is one of the most common agricultural practice in Kashmir & in the season of Spring the whole place seems drenched in the beautiful hues of the color yellow. There is something about these fields, whenever I look at them or walk through them, I feel like a child again & my heart bursts into joy & happiness. There are scores of these mustard fields in Pampore which is just a 40 minutes ride away from the city of Srinagar & I would suggest a trip to these raw, beautiful fields before the end of the Spring season.

A carpet & a sky full of Almond blossoms in J&K SIDCO – Ompora.

(4) J&K SIDCO, Ompora.
How can a list of mine ever be complete without an offbeat place? The industrial estate which comes under the department of industry & commerce is located in Ompora, Budgam. Although one side of it has some industries but the majority of the place has thousands of almond trees which make it one of the best offbeat places near Srinagar to enjoy the springtime blossoms in solitude with less or no crowds. One can see the local shepherds with their sheep around & the place really comes alive at the time of sunset. So, for people who don’t enjoy being in crowded places especially during the testing times of Covid – 19, this place is a must visit.

The blooming tulips of the Asia’s largest tulip garden.

The pictures used in the blog are exquisitely captured by Xulkarnain Dev. Follow his work on Instagram under his handle @xulkarnain.

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