Badamwari: Almond Blossom in Kashmir
Every year the cold of winter melts away and spring brings a new beginning and hope. Spring has finally arrived. As a government, it has approved the opening of public parks.
The arrival of these flowers signifies the departure of winter and the arrival of spring which attracts tourists from all over the world. The adorable blossoms of almond blossoms, in cashmere almond blossoms, are the first to bloom adding a peculiar aroma to spring.
Other flowers mentioned that give a special charm to the beauty of spring are the Kashmir daffodils (Yambarzal) apart from the Virkem and Tenkebatne.
The 300 kanals garden, located in the foothills of historic Koh-e-Maraan in the city of Srinagar, is famous for its almond blossoms and is also known as ‘Badamvaer’.
On the auspicious occasion of Nau-Reh, Kashmiri pandits in Srinagar welcome the New Year with a ceremonial picnic at Badam Vaer.
These almond blossoms herald the arrival of spring for the locals. Almond trees are among the first to bloom in the Kashmir Valley, offering a fragrant fragrance to the season.
It is a tradition for most of the residents of Kashmir that this is the first walk of the year where with the arrival of spring the whole family used to go to Badam Ver with food, tea and roti.
On the auspicious occasion of Kashmiri Pandit Nau-Ray in Srinagar (New Year’s Day according to the Bikrami calendar) you wish a Happy New Year by having a ceremonial picnic at Badam Wire in Srinagar where thousands of almond trees are in bloom.
A fully blooming almond tree is also a sight to behold and the old residents of the Kashmir Valley reminisce about their beauty with hazy eyes.
This is because a blossoming almond tree meant the beginning of Navreh in Kashmir and in olden times, Kashmiri Pandits used to celebrate it as their New Year festival.
Celebrating Navreh, entire families of Kashmiri Pandits would gather at Badamwari after visiting Hari Parbhat temple to seek the blessings of Goddess Sharika and people carried delicious wazwan (traditional Kashmiri food) in their picnic hampers.
Folk singers wandered to sing the songs of spring to the people gathered under the blossoming almond trees to enjoy the end of winter.
Spring in Kashmir
Spring in Kashmir has its own charm with valleys and hillsides, gardens and meadows coming to life after a long and harsh winter. The Mughal Gardens near Srinagar are open for visitors and people, including tourists from outside the valley, visit in large numbers.
The world-renowned resorts, Gulmarg and Pahalgam put on a festive look with hordes of people enjoying the cool natural beauty after being mostly indoors all through the long, cold winter.
There is no equal to the natural beauty of Kashmir and words fail to describe the natural scenery of not only spring but also autumn, and summer and nothing to speak of the beauty of winter in Kashmir.
Badam Vaer, also known as the Almond Blossom, is a beautiful natural phenomenon that occurs in the Kashmir valley during the months of February and March. The almond trees in the region start to bloom during this time, painting the entire valley in shades of pink and white.
The Badam Vaer festival is a popular cultural event that celebrates the blooming of almond trees. The festival usually takes place in the Badam Vaer area of Srinagar, the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir. During the festival, tourists and locals alike flock to the region to witness the breathtaking beauty of the almond trees in full bloom.
The festival is not just a visual spectacle, but also a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of the region. Traditional folk music and dance performances, local handicrafts, and mouth-watering Kashmiri cuisine are just a few of the highlights of the festival.
History of Badaam Vaer
The history of Badamvaer begins with the Durrani Fort, a very famous tourist spot in Srinagar. Durrani Fort stands majestically on a mound called Hari Parbat, on the outskirts of Srinagar. The fort shares space with some Muslim shrines, a Shakti temple that is sacred to Kashmiri pundits, and a Sikh gurdwara.
It is believed that Emperor Akbar had plans to establish a new capital around Hari Parvat, which is why he began building a fort here in 1590. However, this project was never completed. During Durrani’s reign in Kashmir, the present fort was constructed in 1808 during the reign of Shuja Singh Durrani.
Emperor Akbar had plans to build Naagar Nagar, a city around the Hari Parbat hills, which would house palaces and balconies for the royal family, residences for court nobles, and army barracks.
Thanks to the fall of the Mughal empire that began around this time, the city never came into existence. In the year 1876, when Dogras ruled Kashmir, the then ruler Ranbir Singh had the garden area (according to Emperor Akbar’s original plans I guess) planted with almond trees. Over time, the garden became known as Badamvaer or Badamwari, the garden of almond trees.
Garden named after an Afghan ruler
Historians say that there were no records to indicate who kept garden, but they say that it existed even before the rule of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin in the 14th century.
A well-covered dome in the garden is named after an Afghan ruler, Waris Khan. The blossoming of almond trees marked the beginning of spring and marked the new year for Kashmiris.
But with the passage of time, especially during the last three decades, it has lost its glory. As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility and Heritage Trust, the garden was revived by JK Bank and formally opened to the public in 2008.
“Folk singer groups spread across the vast park will entertain the people. We will always be ready to visit. Some will even get new clothes for the occasion. Men, women and children will enjoy going to the garden,” recalled 80-year-old Sharif-ud-din from the old city of Srinagar.
Badamvari, though in full bloom, had a handful of visitors and the Hari Parvat shimmered in the heat of the afternoon sun.
The snow-capped peaks circled far and wide and I walked in solitude under the shade of pink almond flowers. Streamlined beds of iris, daisies, and pansies thrown in a few extra-vibrant colours and blooms in deep red-pink.
Famous Kashmiri poet Mahjoor praising these flowers of spring-
Virkem te tenke batney sule aai jay ratney,
Laeg toer jame tsatney, Gushan wattan chu sonuy
(The two early spring flowers came very early to take their place in the spring while on looking at them the other flowers yet underway to bloom began tearing off their garments to take their lead. Our beautiful country is a garden of flowers.)
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