What a wonderful sight it would be to see hundreds of flowers blooming on a vast patch of rain-soaked earth! That too at an altitude of 11000 feet above sea level. The exquisiteness of flora contained in the valley of flowers has made it an apt choice for both adventure seekers as well newlyweds. It is considered to be the most beautiful trekking destination in the Himalayas. Landscapes, water streams and lush green meadows magically increase the splendour of the place. Like a child in its cradle, the valley of flowers cosily sits at the beautiful assemblage of Eastern and Western Himalayas with a water stream meandering right in the middle. It is located in the Chamoli district of Uttrakhand, near Badrinath. Read on to take a virtual tour of the enigmatic valley of flowers.
Like I said, the valley of flowers is a trekker’s paradise. It provides ample opportunities for the hikers, ranging in varying degree of difficulty. Hemkund Sahib is also one of the gems nestled at an altitude of 14000 feet where seasoned trekkers extend a part of their trek. It’s fairly a steep and tough climb but definitely worth it. With a little care and caution, you can trek along without much ado. Read my blog for easy reference on trekking tips for beginners.
The detailed trek is being discussed below in this blog. The gigantic waterfalls, National parks and exquisite floral beauty make it a place of admiration. The valley is considered to be on the same mountain where Lord Hanuman brought Sanjeevani herb from. It also brims with a lot of other medicinal herbs & exotic flora and is frequently examined by the scientists & medicine scholars for their R&D.
How to reach?
Delhi should be the pit stop for those coming from any other parts than north India. It is advised to take a flight till Delhi and then travel by road to experience this incredible Himalayan valley in all its lustre. You can also land up at Dehradun airport if you wish to, or board a train until the Rishikesh/Dehradun railway station. From there hiring a taxi up to Govind Ghat would be the best choice. From Govind Ghat, tourists can trek to Ghangaria, which is just a number of miles away from this entrance of this valley. https://www.makemytrip.com/ offers amazing discounts flight tickets, specially pre-planned trips.
Where to stay?
Valley of Flowers National Park does not have any accommodation alternatives, but one has multiple options available at Ghangaria. It has to be added that accommodation options may not boast comforts or conveniences and are basic. Tourists who seek better choices with regards to hotels can stay overnight at Joshimath. Government guest rooms are accessible at Joshimath and almost all of them provide advance booking choices. At Ghangharia, many Gurudwaras offer free accommodation to travellers on first come first serve basis.
When to visit?
Summer is this ideal time to visit Valley of Flowers National Park as winter snow makes it impossible to trek. The VOF opens during monsoons and remains until early November every year. However, if you really wish to see the valley in its full form, you must always visit here post monsoon.
Valley of Flowers – The trek
For a safe and satisfying excursion, it is imperative for tourists to look after certain tips and trick. Trekking till Valley of Flowers National Park can prove to be an exhaustive task and one must make sure that he/she is in good physical condition before embarking on the journey. You should also ensure to acclimatize well so you enjoy your trek to the fullest.
Its a 4-day trek in total starting from Govindghat. It is recommended to not to stretch a trek for more than 12 km a day and get over the fatigue and exhaustion the same day only. Over doing may spoil the fun while equally taking a toll on your health. Please see the point wise elaboration of the trek.
A 9-10 hour drive from Haridwar will take you to the town of Govinghat, which will be your base camp for the journey. Govindghat is little ahead of Joshimath, another scenic destination for avid travellers. If you got more days in your kitty, you may adjust this amazing place to your itinerary and give it shot before finally embarking on the trek. Ample transport is readily available from Rishikesh/Haridwar Railway station as well as Dehradun Airport. But it is advisable to book a cab well in advance if you’re travelling in the peak season. Make sure you rest for the day and get acclimatized to the change in climate and altitude.
You may leave Govindghat early morning on the second day and trek till Ghagharia covering Poolna. Govindghat is at 6000 feet, Poolna around 7200 feet and Ghangharia at good 10000 feet. You can also drive from Govindghat till Poolna and then trek towards Ghangharia. You should stay at Ghangharia for the day and start trekking to the valley of flowers the next day only. Keep a water bottle handy. The trek is lined with many dhabas and utility stores and you will trek mostly alongside the river. The hospitality and cleanliness maintained by the Sikh Pilgrims is a thing of sheer appreciation.
The 3rd day should start with trekking valley of flowers and back which is 3.7 km each side. An early morning start is highly recommended. This would take around 6 hours in total. The climb is not as difficult as it was a decade back. Well built slopes/stairs have given the much-needed respite to the trekkers where they fully enjoy the beautiful botanical garden. After 2 km, the trail opens up like a surprise and you come across an astonishing trail of heaven floating with numerous flowers and green canopies.
You have to trust me that the surprise factor will always be as astounding, no matter how many times you visit the valley. The pristine white glacier towards the end kicks the child in you and you can’t resist dipping your feet in the icy cold water. But due care has to be given if you’re travelling with kids, as a lot of unfortunate incidents have been reported because of negligent behaviour of many. The various varieties of flowers include Geranium, Himalayan Rose, Dog lower, Stickseed and River Anemone.
If all goes well in the last 3 days, you must take the most difficult climb to Hemkund Sahib on the fourth day of your journey. It is at 14000 feet above the sea level. Each side is around 6 km and should take at least 8 hours. Make sure you take proper rest intervals in between since the increasing height may perplex you. Though there is nothing as tough if you do it the right way. Take enough breaks and avoid going fast. Carry a raincoat as the weather is little temperamental during summers. Four hours into the trek and a huge glacier welcomes you to Hemkund Sahib. The lake hides right behind this which remains frozen half of the year.
The oxygen levels may pester you a little but once you start walking in and around, the uneasiness will gradually reduce. Savour chai and khichdi offered by the Gurudwara. If you are a daring heart, you may also take a dip in the lake like many others. The place oozes positivity inside out and is an epitome of dazzling white luster. You should start your way back around 3 PM to be able to reach Ghagharia before sundown.
The Himalayas have their own way of enchanting and hypnotizing people. I can’t express how elated I was to write this particular piece of travel tale. Guess the amount of exhilaration once you actually get to trek there. So if you ever get a chance, Valley of flowers must top your list. Even if you have already been there. It gets newer every time you show up.
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(Image Credits – Wikimedia Commons)