Valley of Flowers is a National Park located in Chamoli District in Uttarakhand. It is also a World Heritage Site.
Upon hearing about this place, one of the first thoughts that crosses most people’s mind is a garden with flowers. It is only after a little help from google that one realizes its magnitude. It is a unique location in this world. However, the information available on the internet does not do justice to the beauty of the place.
If you visit this place in the month of July or August, the view comprises sky rising mountains full of green cover with the top of the mountain merging into the clouds. A small cloud sitting in the middle of the mountain as if it wanted to take a short break from the exhaustive journey to the top is a common sight.
The whole route of the trek is filled with views of waterfalls originating from the top of the mountains falling almost vertically. Water appears as a white line on a green canvas losing its transparent property. Inside the valley water from these distant waterfalls eventually crosses the trek obliquely making it even more exciting.
The trek to this place starts from Govind Ghat which is located on the Badrinath Rishikesh Highway. You may also visit Hemkund Sahib because the base camp for Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib is the same.
When should you plan your trip?
The National Park is open from end of May to mid-September. However, it is only during the rainy season i.e. July to mid-September, that the valley comes to life with colorful flowers. It is said that the valley changes its color every two weeks.
How to reach the starting point of the trek?
As mentioned earlier, the trek to the National Park starts from a place called Govind Ghat which is located on the Rishikesh – Badrinath Highway. Reaching this place is a bit challenging during the rainy season due to landslides on the way.
Rishikesh is easily accessible via various means of transport. From Rishikesh buses leave for Joshimath from 5:30 am onwards. Try to reach 10 to 15 min early to get a comfortable seat. Don’t use the booking service provided by Uttarakhand tourism for advance booking of tickets. There is possibility that the govt bus might get cancelled at the last moment (in case of a possibility that the destination cannot be reached due to landslide). You will easily get a private bus. Also, there is an option of shared taxi.
“We booked our tickets online in advance for a govt bus which was scheduled to depart at 5:30 am. However, the bus got cancelled with no intimation regarding the reason of cancellation. Although, the website said that the amount will be refunded but it did not happen. Tracking this at a later stage was exhausting and did not end in a success.”
While travelling to Govind Ghat avoid using personal transport. Not only is the drive challenging and exhausting, but there is a chance of encountering a landslide. On encountering a landslide in your own vehicle, or a hired vehicle, you will be stuck till the road is cleared. This might even take days at times. On the other hand, if you are travelling via bus, you have the option of crossing the landslide on foot via some alternate route used by locals and catching another bus on the other side of the landslide.
On the other side we waited for an hour till we finally managed to get a shared taxi which took us to Joshimath, where we decided to spend the night in the Gurudwara.”
“We waited for a long while hoping to find people to share the taxi at both points. But unfortunately, we could not find anyone to share the cab. We ended up paying for the additional cost of the empty seats to avoid wasting time.”
1st day of the trek
First day’s objective used to be to trek 14 km to reach Ghangaria which serves as the base camp for both Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. Due to construction of motorable road for the first 4 km (till Pulna Village), this part of the trek can also be covered via shared taxi (Rs35/- per person).
For rest of the trek, it will take you approximately 4 to 6 hours to complete. It is advisable to start early as the weather here changes very quickly.
If you are an inexperienced trekker and don’t wish to carry your own luggage, you can hire a porter. They generally charge Rs1000/- and will carry around 4 bags, which makes it Rs250/- per person which is a very nominal charge. Also, this would allow you to have more flexibility to take pictures and enjoy the views.
The first half of the trek is comparatively easy. The mid-point of this trek is marked by a bridge across the river. The place has some great views. It is a good point to rest and replenish yourself before starting the more challenging half of the trek. Don’t fill up your stomach too much as it will make the remaining trek even more challenging.
On reaching the base camp have some fluid to replenish your body and relax yourself. It is advisable not to lie down right away after reaching the hotel.
You can explore the surrounding area if you wish. Also, there is a 20-minute video show about Valley of Flowers (Rs 30/- per person) informing you about the flowers found in the valley.
Where to stay?
There are a lot of hotels in Ghangaria where you can book a room online with 50% advance payment.
“We did not book any hotel in advance. We did call a few of the hotels to enquire about the availability of rooms a week before the trek. We were informed that rooms were available. Generally, hotels to treks like these are booked well in advance. In anticipation of rooms being available we decided to book accommodation on the spot. We were lucky enough to a great deal on room rent. We ended up paying Rs 1200/- for a room having accommodation for 3.”