Like the Nilagiri Hills in South India where the blue flower Neelakurinji blooms once in every 12 years creating a magic carpet of flowers in the entire area, Chamoli in Uthrakhand is where you can find the entire mountain range covered with flowers every year right after the first monsoon rains. It’s the valley of flowers, truly Devbhoomi, the land of God’s, the best place to relax, enjoy the freshness of mountains and get away from the hassle of city life. It is a moderate level trekking that a beginner can try.
The Valley of Flowers National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, which shares borders with China occupied Tibet. The best time to visit is during the monsoon from June to October, the valley will be covered in snow during winter and hence inaccessible. During the monsoon, right after the first rain more than 300 varieties of wild flowers blooms, transforming the valley into a carpet of flowers.
The valley situated at an altitude of 3600 metres above sea level was declared a national park in 1982. Most of the flowers blooms from June to September and turns into seeds later. Animals such as Snow Leopard, Bear, Fox, Blue Sheep, Musk Deer etc can be found here, but rarely spotted during day light.
It is a paradise for those who are interested in Botany, plants and Himalayan livestocks. The trek to the valley is 20kms in total starting from Govind Ghat and there is a base camp at 14kms, Ghangaria. The trek is moderate and anyone who wants to take a break from busy city life can try it.
How to Reach :
If you are starting from Delhi, the best option is to take an ove bus to Rishikesh. From Rishikesh take a bus or share taxi to Joshimath. It takes around 10 to 15 hrs depending on the road conditions and traffic.
Also you can reach Govindghat another 21kms from Joshimath from where the trekking to Valley of Flowers starts. In Govind Ghat there are a lot of cheap hotels to stay. There is a Gurudwara where you can stay for free if you are on a budget. From Govind Ghat there are share taxi services till Pulna, 4kms ahead, charges around 50 perhead. Depending on your health and fitness, one can either start the trek from Govind Ghat or Pulna.
The basecamp Ghangaria is 10kms from Pulna and if you start in the morning, you can reach by noon without much difficulties. It’s always good to carry only the essentials, your luggage can be kept in the hotel reception in Govindghat, or the Gurudwara cloak room.
The highest Gurudwara in the world, The Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib is also in the same route. So there will be a lot of pilgrims to walk along till Ghangaria. It good to take rest in Ghangaria and start for the valley of Flowers next morning. Here too you can sleep at the Gurudwara if you are on a budget.
The National Park opens at 7 in the morning and you can enter till 12pm. One should register at the forest checkpoint about one kilometre distance from Ghangaria. The entry fee is 150 rupees per head for Indian Citizen and 600 rupees for foreigner. As the weather in the Himalayas are unpredictable during the monsoon, it is better to start in the morning.
You need to inform the officers at the checkpost when you come out, as they keep a daily register to check for missing travelers.
Things to do :
A wide variety of wild flowers are found in the valley. The information about the important flowers are available at the forest checkpoint. It takes around 4kms trekking to reach the valley.
Tomb of English Botanist
Walking further through the valley another 2kms you can reach the tomb of an English botanist Joan Margaret Legge, who died there while collecting flower samples in 1939.
You can also find few glaciers on the way and a bigger one when you trek around 6kms into the valley of flowers.
Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib
The gurudwara Hemkund Sahib is nearby Valley of flowers national park and if you are staying in Ganghria overnight, you can trek to this worship place the next morning. It is the highest sikh Gurudwara in the world. Takes around 3 hours to climb from Ganghria in a slow speed.
Carry water and a walking pole or stick.
Carry dry fruits, biscuits, chocolates, glucose etc, as everything edible costs double in Ghangaria, so its better you buy it from Rishikesh or Govind Ghat.
Be equipped with an umbrella or raincoat
The network reception is very low in this region, BSNL mobile is available, if you have a BSNL sim, carry it.
There are no options to stay inside the national park as of now. You have to return and reach the check post outside at 5pm. So plan carefully and start early to enjoy this paradise and spend time the valley of flowers.