The grasslands and slopes of Bhaderwah valley in Kashmir's Doda are painted, once again, carpeted with bell-shaped pretty flowers all over. The bell-shaped fragrant flowers named foxglove are in full bloom, attracting the attention of local and foreign tourists visiting the valley.
A native of temperate Europe, Foxglove is a delicate and fragrant flower that looks like wind chimes in pink and white. It presents a rare view to the visitors.
Nestled in the snow-filled Ashapati and Kailash glaciers, Bhaderwah is witnessing a massive rush of tourists, many of whom are seeing the wildly grown beds of bell-shaped flowers for the first time and can be seen clicking pictures to make their trip memorable.
"This is beyond my our expectationsWe have come here to enjoy the pleasant weather, refreshing waterbodies and the vast meadows surrounded with dense coniferous forests, but the beauty of Foxglove spread everywhere has taken us to the fairytale world,"Akriti Mittal, a tourist from Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, told PTI.
The 31-year-old said she is an avid traveller but has seen these types of flowers for the first time.
Both locals and visitors are of the opinion that proper projection of the Foxglove can become a trump card to attract flower lovers from across the world.
"I came to Jaie meadow for a family outing to be in the lap of nature. After seeing these flowers on the slopes, in the meadows and lined on the edges of the road, as if these are not wild but grown with a purpose, I realised why they say that this place is heaven on earth," Aarif Haleem Khateeb (45), a resident of Jammu, said.
Bhaderwah, the 'valley of flowers', is known as mini-Kashmir for its resemblance with the 'paradise on earth'.
"If projected in a better way by the tourism authorities, this wild species of flower can further boost tourism prospects of Jammu and Kashmir in general and the region in particular," Khateeb said.
Tribal nomads, who traditionally reside in high-altitude meadows along with their cattle during summers, are also elated as they are earning money due to the flow of tourists.
"We have been living with these flowers since ages but never thought that these can become a source of earning for us. Visitors are mesmerised by these flowers, taking pictures and staying here for longer besides informing others about the beauty of the place," Mohd Hussain Chechi, Lumbardar of Jaie Ghati, said.
He said tribals sell milk products to visitors besides youths are earning handsomely by offering pony rides.
"The Foxglove is a blessing in disguise for us and we are thankful to almighty for this wonderful gift," Chechi said.
Additional Deputy Commissioner, Bhaderwah, Dilmir Choudhary said over 1.12 lakh tourists flocked to Jaie Ghati alone in the month of June.
"The district administration in collaboration with the tourism department had already taken various steps to highlight the natural beauty of this region to the outside world," he said.
"The observance of International Yoga Day (on June 21) was held at Jaie Ghati with a purpose to bring the Foxglove to the limelight," he added.
Over 5,000 people from different parts of the country and abroad turned up for the yoga session at the 7,850-feet-high Jaie Ghati, 70 kilometres from the Doda district headquarters, according to officials.