Valley of flowers, a garden on top of the world in the north of India near Badrinath was a dream destination for our family since a long time. Over the years the program was made and unmade but did not reach execution stage. At last this year we planned our trip undertaking all the advance bookings in date connectivity. Our journey inception was from Delhi, the national capital of India. We hired a local tourist chauffer driven car and left for Hardiwar in the state of Uttaranchal starting the journey before sunrise. The 220 km road condition was good and driving smooth. Nonstop we could have commuted the distance in 3 and half hours but we broke our journey for refreshment on the way and reached Hardiwar in 6 hours. Once there we checked into the hotel and spent the entire day for local seeing of Hardiwar and Rishikesk.
The next day we were to cover a distance of 332 km taking a route of Haldwani Ranikhat Karnprayag Joshimath and Govindghat. Henceforth escalating and mounting 13 km road passing adjacent Bhyundar Ganga carried us towards Ghanghria at 14202 ft 14 km from Govindghat. This place was our night halt. From here, the Valley of flowers is just 3 km away but has to done through trek. Ponies are also not permitted. The whole road journey took around 10 hours. At places the road was dangerously perched on mountain edge with river flowing down below. For the night we stayed at Ghanghria. At night, we viewed informative video based on the valley organized for the benefit of the tourist.
Camping is forbidden at Valley of Flowers. The traveler has to be environment sensitive and there are strict rules governing the eco-system of the place. Next day after breakfast we began out trek at easy pace with a long stick in hand to keep grip on the rain wet greenery under foot. As the day advances we enjoyed the surrounding profusely green surroundings innumerable streams tinkling through rocks and slopes, and hillside hamlets. We waded across the smaller ones, the bigger log bridges were very convenient. One has to be careful as they cross over walking on stout glacial bridges covering some streams.
Being the month of August the trek was busy with tourists and devotees moving towards Hemkund Sahib. They chanted ‘Wahe Guru’ periodically with zest and encouraged others to eat biscuits they were distributing. The trek was smooth till the valley. The delightful Valley of Flowers is a sheet of ice all through the winter months and once summer sets in the ice melts, hundreds of flowers begins to bloom in variety of colors of different shades, shape and size. It is open to tourists in the month of June-October each year. We walked along Pushpawati River for a couple of kms and then crossed to its right bank through a bridge. The trek led straight to the Valley of Flowers.
The Pushpawati River gushing as a result of glacial melt in and around Rataban and Nilgiri ranges transverses the Valley into two parts. The right bank is where the trekkers aim to reach. All around are snow covered peaks. We were told the valley dimensions are 10km long and 2 km wide. The huge Ghoradhungi Mountain blocks one end of the valley. The credit of discovering the Valley goes to Frank Smith in 1931 a mountaineer, botanist, and an explorer of repute. The valley has the status of a National Park since 1982. It is also a World Heritage Site. It is a protected place of the western Himalayas.
We were carrying salt with us on the advice of friends who had visited the place earlier. The leeches infested valley can cause pain pricks if eyes view the flowers and not the wet ground. Not all flowers bloom at the same time. May and June there are plenty of Rhodedendrons. Sunflower, lilies, orchid beds are visible in July but rain is a big deterrent. One minute it is sunny and next it is raining. Primrose and Primulas bloom in August. Other species of flowers are poppies, calendulas, daises, anemones etc. Birch Alpine forest covers the place partly. Here wild life thrives such as Tahr, snow leopard, red fox, langur, musk deer, bharal, serow, black bear and beautiful fluttering butterflies.
As we neared the valley from far we could see beds of flowers turning purple into yellow merging into white. The sight cannot be described in words. It is estimated that 500 species of flowers thrive here. The trek has to be concluded in day time leaving enough time to return to the night accommodation at Ghanghria. The Hot Punjabi dishes served at eating joints are relished in the cold climate when appetite goes high. The temperature was around 17 degree C. The Valley entry is permitted from six in the morning to six in the evening. The last entry allowed is at 3 in the afternoon.
The flowers fields in an area of 87.50 sq km are as nature grows them there are no tracks among its growth. For photo sessions one has to wade through leg length flower carpet piles crushing some with your weight and unstable footing. We stood a long time on raised vantage platform drawing in the beauty and the fresh fragrant air of the area. Puny valleys are created by flowing water of melting glaciers. Donagir Garh is one such tiny valley full of flowers even on marshy land. As we walked deeper into the valley more and more attractive flower beds became visible. We clicked a lot of pictures to preserve memory. We ventured out till the grave of the Margaret Legge in the centre of the valley and then decided to take the return journey.
Nag Tal is towards the left bank of River Pushpawati; it is believed to be full of poisonous snakes and similar flowers. The advisory says not to pluck or crush or even smell flowers in this area.
Indeed as the story goes from Hindu mythology in which Valley of Flowers is named Nandankanan came into existence when God’s flowers fell on earth as a blessing. We felt blessed to see Heaven on Earth and to this day linger on the memories of the valley of flowers.
We were delighted with this whole trip. Almost a trip to heaven. The place was amazing but we had to leave. We left for Haridwar back and then to Delhi, Ending this wonderful trip.
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