Flower power

The Bengal Post
 Meghna Ganguly

Strolling on the curving roads of Gangtok, while on a recent visit to the beautiful capital of Sikkim, I was quite pleasantly surprised when I came across a hoarding of the 2nd International Flower Show. The event which was going on from February 17 – February 27 fell easily into my vacation plan and being a nature lover, I just had to witness it. The local language being known to me, it wasn’t difficult to find my way about the city. So I took a bus from the bus stand at Gangtok to Ranipool and, from there, a shared-taxi to the Saramsa Garden. Thereon, the path was meant to be traversed by foot. Right opposite the main gate of the festival, was the registration counter where people had to enrol their names and buy tickets along with a guide page for a better idea of the different stalls and a guide map to help them find their way about.
As I looked at the garden gates, they seemed to beckon to me with the enchanting milieu of colours that lay beyond the doorway. The design of the gate was equally fantastic. There were crowds of people who had come to visit the show and many schools had also brought along their children to teach them more about the flora of this country. Groups of young photographers flocked to the show clicking away frantically at all the colourful blossoms all around. I was dumbstruck by the amazing beauty of nature, the brilliant hues and the bewitching fragrance. It was almost as if I had stepped into paradise.
There were orchids, pansies, gladioli, roses, rhododendrons, creepers, climbers, shrubs and many other flowering plants on display. Pure joy filled my eyes as the reds, greens, blues, purples and other colours danced in front of my eyes, showering the earth in a rainbow of colours. This flower festival that is organised in Sikkim every year, is normally held in the summer months, preferably from April to May. However, I was lucky enough to witness the festival during the month of February as it happened earlier this time.
The festival that mostly exhibits the beauty of the flora in and around Sikkim also plays host to a variety of flora from other states. This year, the number of states that put up stalls to exhibit their flowers has gone up considerably. Stalls from Indian states such as Karnataka, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam and even countries from outside India such as Holland, USA and others were present. There were orchids in various colours including some printed ones! There were stalls that sold flower bulbs, along with a little mud so as to help them survive climatic conditions. The more decorative stalls exhibited various bouquets made of flowers, dry stems and feathers while some others came up with instruments required to maintain a garden
including shovels, cutters, lawn mowers and other similar items.
The garden was overflowing with camellias, oxlips, bottlebrushes and topiaries along with a variety of ferns. A mini-garden was made by Nepal with two big topiary bulls and a small topiary of the Pashupati Mandir. The stall from Karnataka was simply fabulous with garlands of flowers hanging from the ceiling, colourful decorations and huge bouquets. Orchid sticks, gerberas and roses were purchasable at very reasonable rates. I saw many people carrying some back as souvenirs from this paradise.
There was also an open theatre that hosted a cultural programme every day. In fact, I was fortunate to witness a beautiful dance show along with some singing typical to West Sikkim. Little ponds, fountains, bridges and decorative bushes enhanced the beauty of the park. It almost felt like I was in a different world altogether. The beauty, the serenity and the tranquility of the place lingered in my heart for a long time after I returned to Gangtok.
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