Valley of flowers,UTTARAKHAND

Gar firdaus bar rue zameen ast / hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast’ -Persian.
In English it means: If ever there is Paradise on Earth – It is here! It is here! It is here!
my pic

A trek to ‘VALLEY OF FLOWERS’ was on my list since May,1996 when I first went for a 10 days trekking trip to Pindari and Kafni Glacier. It was a long wait of 13 years before life allowed it and six of us (wife,acquaintances and friends) agreed upon the destination and the dates.

Suresh ji (our experienced tour organizer) whose prompt replies to all our repeated queries helped us a great deal and he even agreed to escort us in the trip. The date of travel (21st of July, 09 till the 27th of July, 09) was set on the 10 of June,09 and the train tickets were done. As all of us are working, we made sure to plan ahead to minimize the number of holidays – leaving on Tuesday night and returning back on Monday morning was hectic, but best possible combination. Even if we booked our tickets 40 days in advance we got one leg (Delhi to Haridwar) which was for the 21st July as RAC 1,2,3,4,5,6 and the other (Haridwar to Delhi) for the 26th July night as confirmed. It is always suggested to book your tickets at least 2 months in advance or else wait for the risky ‘tatkal’ facility, just 5 days before departure – sharp at 8 am.

The plan was as follows:

Day 1- Tuesday (21-July,09)
Overnight train from Delhi-Haridwar ; departure 22:20 & arrival 5:52 by Mussoorie exp

Day 2-Wednesday (22-July,09)
SUV drive from Hariwar to Jhoshimath departure 6:30 arrival 16:30
Overnight stay at Jhoshimath-Hotel Dronagiri

Day 3-Thursday (23-July,09)
SUV 15 kms drive Jhoshimath to Govindgath 6:30 7:30
14kmsTrek from Govindgath to Ghanghariya departure 8:00 arrival 14:30
Overnight stay at Sarovar luxury tents, Ghanghariya

Day 4 Friday (24-July,09)
Trek from Ghanghariya to Valley of Flowers and back to the camp
Overnight stay at the same camp

Day 5 Saturday (25-July,09)
Trek from Ghanghariya-Hemkunth Sahib and back
Overnight stay at the same camp

Day 6 Sunday (26-July,09)
Trek from Ghanghariya to Govindghat departure 6:00 and arrival 9:00
14kms (downhill, therefore less time)
SUV drive from Govindgath – Haridwar ;departure 10:00 and arrival 21:00
Overnight train from Haridwar to Delhi ; departure 23:20 & arrival 7:45 by Mussoorie exp

Day 7 Monday (27-July,09)
Back to Delhi in morning ;can proceed on time to office

Our program started well – we all gathered at the Old Delhi station at 9:45 pm as we had to check our RAC status which got confirmed. My Singaporean friend , Ryan was really surprised to see the filthy and disorganized condition of the railway station. With apprehension, he asked me, if we had an AC compartment? To which I replied ‘yes’. After 30 mins of waiting at the crowded station, the train arrived and we all got in. Thankfully, the seats were comfortable and the cabin cool, neat and clean. As some of us were meeting for the first time it was nice to know each other.We were awake for almost 2 hrs when we decided to sleep as the next day was going to be long and tiring with a drive from Haridwar to Joshimath ( ROUTE-MAP). Somehow I was unable to sleep due to excitement and anxiety.

On the 22nd of July, 09 we reached the Haridwar train station early morning at 6 am. Suresh ji met us at the platform and guided us to the place where our Innova was ready to take us for a Himalayan drive. The weather was pleasant good company of likeminded people kept me awake even when I hadn’t slept that previous night. It had rained heavily and the skies were clear. Luckily no landslides (a common phenomena in this region) had occurred on our route.

We had or first halt at Monal restaurant,Kaudiyala for freshening-up and breakfast. I sneaked in enough time to take a shower J. Enroute Suresh ji kept as entertained with stories and facts about Prayaag and we kept stopping to take pictures every now and then around the ‘Panch prayag’ – the five most sacred river confluences of the Garhwal Himalayas – which are of immense religious importance. The five Prayags are VishnuPrayag, NandPrayag, KarnaPrayag, RudraPrayag and DevPrayag, of which three are in Chamoli district.

DevPrayag:
It is the confluence of river Alaknanda and Bhagirathi and is famous for temples and river GHATS. It is believed that it was at DevPrayag where lord Vishnu begged for 3 steps of land from King Bali. Fairs are held on the occasion of Ramnavmi, Dussherra and Basant Panchami.

Shrinagar:

RudraPragay:
It is the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers and is well known for LaxmiNarayan and Durga temples. At Monal resorts we got change to freshen up and had our lunch.
KarnaPrayag:
It is situated on the sacred confluence of Alaknanda and Pindari rivers and is known for the Karna Temple and the Uma Devi Temple. It is believed that Lord Surya gifted Kavatch, Kundal and Tuneer to Karna at KarnaPrayag. KarnaPrayag hosts several temples groups- KaalBhairov temple dedicated to Kaleshwar in the North, Jaleshwar temple in the South and Chandika temple & Narayan temple in the East.

NandaPrayag:
It is the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers, about 21 kms from Karnaprayag, on the main route to Badrinath. The famous Gopalji temple is situated here. NandaPrayag hosts fair on the occasion of Baisakhi and Janmasthami.
Joshimath: we arrived joshimath at 6:30 pm hotel Dronagiri (2254) which I suppose is the best hotel in town. Afterwards, we got a chance to visit a 2400 years old Mulberry tree, little above Shankaracharya’s cave. The tree has an astonishing girth of 36 meters.

Back at the hotel, we slept early and woke up the next morning at 5:30 am (23rd of July, 09) all ready for breakfast. We fed sumptuously as it was going to be a long and tiring day. Later,we drove for 16 kms down to Govindghat crossing VishnuPrayag – the confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauli Ganga Rivers 6000 feet above sea level. This site is amazing as it’s part of Nandadevi Biosphere and one can easily feel the difference as everything seems to be neat, clean and natural.started trekking Around 7:30 am, we arrived at Govindghat and found it to be too congested and dirty. I think we Hindus and Sikhs should learn to make our religious places clean and silent rather than dirty, congested and noisy. We never expected such remote place to be so dirty.We didn’t spend much time and started our 14 kms trek to Ghanghariya. This is where I made a mistake of carrying my 35 kg rucksack. The route is stony and has a considerable gradient; its not recommended to carry it on your own. I strongly advise to carry the rucksacks or luggage on pony or mules and walk free hand to enjoy the trek and surroundings. It takes some doing to ignore the dirt created by the regular ponies and mules. Somehow we managed to concentrate more on the surrounding then on what we were walking over. For the most part, the trek goes parallel to the river and crosses beautiful villages like Pulna and Bhundyar.pulna Also there are spectacular waterfalls and thick jungle sites.waterfall

way

It was the first time in my life that I saw such a thick forest of Bhojpatra trees and a heavy flow of rivers in the upper course. We were lucky that it didn’t rain and was not sunny either. Another interesting aspect was the sprit of Sikh pilgrims – it was amazing to see that people who never walk for 500mts a day were able to walk for 15 kms on a steep and stony path – some people even barefoot. ‘Vahe Guru’!
Everybody was helpful on the treacherous path, ready to offer food items, hand, and support. We kept feeding on dry fruits provided by Suresh ji, just before trek started. After a long trek of 14 kms we arrived at ‘Sarovar camp’, Ghanghariya around 18:30 pm – totally exhausted.
exhausted

camp

I realized carrying 35kgs was too much for testing my endurance. But we all liked the arrangements at Sarovar. We were happy to find comfortable beds, attached toilets, dining room and perfect view of the valley.
My wife was dead tired as she never had such an experience before. Seeing her, I decided to have our dinner at Sarovar itself. It was a little expensive but totally worth it – as at such a remote place we got home made phulkas, dal and mixed veg.
When our group members returned back they told us that we did right by staying back and having our dinner at the camp itself as Ghanghariya is 500 mts steep trek. We all were tired and ready to hit the bed after a ‘MOOV’ massage
I somehow managed to wake up at dawn – 5:00 am, and took a bath. It was the perfect time to look around. Perfect view of the valley, chirping of birds, sound of a nearby river – all made it a divine experience.look around
Athough I couldn’t sleep well but the early morning made me all charged up. We had our breakfast by 7 am and left for the Valley of Flowers at 8 am
Within 30 mins we arrived at the entrance gate of Valley of flowers, while crossing Ghanghariya en-route I really felt bad to find it dirty,congested and stinky.I request all ‘ Dharam gurus’ to tell their disciples to keep our surroundings clean – I guess only then will our Indian crowd do something otherwise we just care for our house and not the surroundings. Thanks to the forest department, mules are not allowed into the valley and the real fun started after entering the valley.track from entrance gate
One can feel the difference. Everything was picture perfect.

trunk

Various species of flowers, nice trails, upper course river, waterfalls, bridges, lovely smells and perfect temperature. Although the real ‘Valley of Flowers’ start after 3 kms from entrance gate, my wife was tired and we gave up deep exploration, and kept exploring it near the entrance of the main valley.

Here are some pics that we clicked:
pic1

IMG_9421

DSC05942

in valley of flowers

kept viewing

bhojpatra

While the other group members left to explore deep into the valley, we (my wife and me) climbed up the biggest boulder on the entrance of the valley to have the perfect view. We remained there for 2 hrs, it was such a romantic experience to be with my love seeing the whole valley from the top of the boulder.
entrance stone
I never saw such a clear blue sky. We both got a proper tan as we were at the height of more than 3000 mtrs where the sun rays were directly over us.
we all
At 4 pm we decided to come back as we wanted to avoid rain & walking in the dark. Within 90 mins we all were down to Ghanghariya all hungry and excited. We ate at the local dhaba. The food was not good though and in the evening we decided to have meals at ‘Sarovar’ which is expensive but safe and good.

We did have Hemkunt Sahib in our cards but seeing the situation of half of our group members we decided to drop the plan.On the 25th of July,09 we woke up in a lazy way at 7:30 am by the breakfast alarm and directly hit the breakfast table for sumptuous breakfast: Juice, porridge, Milk, tea, paratha.DSC05964
DSC05971
After an hour we decided to visit the nearby helipad for photo sessions and I also practiced my game ‘POI’.
Then we left for the nearby river and enjoyed the ambience.The river water was so cold that I could dip my feet for more than 15 seconds.But my wife resisted it for 7 min and won the bet.IMG_9580We came back to the camp by 12:30 pm and started our lunch at the camp itself. IMG_9587

After a short relaxation we moved for the Waterfall on the way to hemkunt where we tried to come closest to it and finally Mr. Joshi and I made it.If someone ask me to compare ‘Valley of flowers’ and bathing in this waterfall, I would say the later was more enjoyable. I was free, I was adventurous, it thrilled me and it was touching experience and felt as if I was a part of it, completely dissolved.IMG_9599
I wish my wife was with me then.After two 2hrs of bathing we started feeling cold and thought of moving from there.
waterfall

waterfall2

4 of the group members left for the ‘valley of flowers’ and I and Mr. Bahuguna left for Ghanghariya.I moved further to bring Aruja from the camp to ghanghariya for an early dinner.
IMG_9584
This time the restaurant was better than a day before.I also made a call to papa from the only available satellite phone Rs 20 per min. Came back to the camp by 7:30 pm and we all sat for 2-3 hrs enjoying as much as possible as the next day was going to be tiring and taxing. Next day, the 26th of July, 09 morning 5:30 am was the scheduled departure time and this time we hired a pony (Rs 450 per mule) to carry our rucksacks. We settled all our bills the same night.
We all got up around 4:30 am by a wakeup called and were at the breakfast table at 5:00am , as we knew it was going to be a tiring day we took sumptuous breakfast. Mules were on time and we loaded our stuffs and told him to wait for us at the Govindghat gate in case he reaches early. We started descending at 5:45 am and today we are were free hand without anyload on our shoulders.The only experience that was lacking was to touch the clouds and we were happy to see them now.DSC06004Was not feeling good to leave such a wonderful place but we have to. We descended 14 kms comfortably in 4 hrs.And by 11 am we were near over INNOVA at govindghat.Then started the tiring journey to haridwar. After driving for 1:5hrs driver suspected a landslide as no traffic was approaching us and he was right there was a huge landslide near Pipalkoti and the traffic was jam for last 13 hrs. Our smart driver somehow zigzagged the car and parked it nearest to the landslide effected area as his gut feeling was that the traffic Jam will be curved in few hours. It was amazing to see how BRO (border Road Organisation) blasting the required area and clearing it, I wish I could record the blast. By 2 pm the road was cleared and the traffic starting moving.Authorities gave a green signal to the bikers and then followed the others.We were a bit skeptic if we would be able to make it to the the railway station by 11:20 pm as almost whole route till rishikesh is landslide area.We stopped for the lunch (30 mins) at Rudraprag not good food but yes enough to satiate.Our driver was really driving well –fast but cautious. By 7:30pm we had reached devprag and now we were relaxed that we would make it to the train station. But when we arrived kaudiyala this situation was different there was huge stretch of landslide and the traffic stopped at the byasi, we saw bikers turning back and telling us that the stones are falling.Most of the cars and bikers went back and some parked a safe area.It was then Mr. Suresh and I decided to inspect the area, it was 1 kms trek and we vigilant while walking as the stones were falling.When we reached the landside area we found the edge broken but we realised we can move some stones and make enough space to move the traffic at least for small 4 wheelers. We collected a few guys and started making the road , within 20 mins the road was ok and started moving the traffic.Our innova made it after 10 mins and we felt happy.It was still 35kms to the railway station.And it started raining heavily.We feared of another landslide area as the whole stretch from kaudiyala to NIM beach was landslide effected.But thankfully we made it to Rishikesh to stuck at ram jhula, courtesy Kanvars for nilkanth.We escaped it and finally reached the haridwar train station by 10:30 pm.We were happy that we were able to make it to the train station after a long and tiring journey with landslide effected area.

Overall, the trek was great and we all came back refreshed with great memories, a little less weight and broad smiles.my love

For more pics, please click

31 Comments

  • After watching these mesmerising pictures there is only one word I like to say…………Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

    Thanks for this nice posting.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Good write-up with a lot of information. How about trek route? Is it ok for kids also? Although we are from uttranchal & kids use to of little bit of trekking.

    Pictures are beautiful

    • sushil says:

      yes, it is ok for kids. Infact I’d say take your kids as who knows after the full global warming and the deteriorating condition of such beautiful places they might not be able to see the same after….

      I saw kids as young as 2 yrs on the way but were carried by porters

  • From top 9th snap is very good, and obvious article is very nice, especially u added nice pics, thnx for sharing.

  • nandanjha says:

    Great travelogue Sushil. This kind of structured, well laid information would be very useful for anyone who is planning a trek there.

    Jhaltola is still bookmarked as a place to go in my list.
    Hope to read about your travels.

  • SandeepSehgal says:

    Great writeup and photos, I am sure you have inspired many like me to plan a trip.

    • sushil says:

      thank you for the comment,feel free to ask my anything about this trip.It will be a pleasure to guide my fellow traveller

  • Indrani Bose says:

    Hi Sushil,
    U have absolutely floored me with the write up and totally enthralled me with the pics… Valley of flowers is now surely on my travel destinations in very near future, thanks ever so much.
    warm rgds
    Indrani

    • sushil says:

      thank you for your comments- Indrani, please feel free to contact me whenever you want to know anything about treks in Garhwal, i keep organising such trips. will soon be posting a new destination,,,

      bye

      • IndraniBose says:

        Thnx a ton…We have a 6 yr old lil one who is keen to come along on such treks but would you be able to accomodate or is it recommended to take kids along at all…. just a query. What would be the best time to visit Valley of Flowers? We went to Dalhousie and Chamba Valley this April for 3 days , which was pleasant.
        Ta
        Indrani

        • sushil says:

          yes , go ahead and hire a porter (Rs 450) from Govindgat to Ghanghariya who will carry him on his shoulders bag.

          You should definitely take your kid along, who knows whether he will be able to see it in future.

  • Celine says:

    Last year at this time I was in the Valley of Flowers!

    Your post with these pictures brought back memories of my trip to the place: the ascending trek up to Ghangaria, pilgrims, then to the beautiful Valley, beauty of landscape, waterfalls, landslides, Kanwarias at Haridwar etc. Thank you.

    In my case I thought carrying a rucksack of 7 kgs was a mistake..haha, on that ascent even that was too much for me. I came across and enjoyed rare Himalayan flora in the Hemkund area, while you opted to enjoy the waterfall.:)

  • sushil says:

    thank you celine for your comments,we can related to the story :-)

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Sushil,

    First time I heard of this magnificent area was from the book VALLEY OF FLOWERS by Frank Smythe many years ago. Thanks for updating the information on the journey from Delhi to this wonderful destination. It was in Rudraprayag, Jim Corbett tracked down a vicious man eating leopard that killed 125 pilgrims in May 1926.

    Your text is very informative and the pictures depicting the Alpine scenery are gorgeous. The close up of the tree with peeling bark is a birch tree. Thanks for the well written account.

    with best wishes
    Jerry
    Alberta, Canada

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Hello Sushil,
    Yes, many thanks for allowing me to see all the wonderful pics you shot during this trip. I shall forward some of the pics I took while traveling the mountains in Southern India, and the Rocky mountains in Canada, to your gmail account.

    Regards,

    Jerry

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Sushil,

    The post is very informative, and pictures are stunningly beautiful. I will be looking forward to read more from you. And for sure for any information about valley of flower, I know whom to contact :-)

    • Sushil says:

      Thank you for your appreciation !

      I’ll soon be organizing a quality tour to valley of flower and will inform you as well.
      I am organizing a tour to Tashkent for the new year occasion.And will soon write about it after I come back.
      If you are interested, please reply me with your email so that i can send you the program.

      Sushil

      learning to travel and traveling to learn

      • Manish Khamesra says:

        Thanks Sushil, it would be a pleasure to join you. But my second kid is too small and I will wait for a few years before planning a trip to VOF. Till then will be looking forward to read your experiences :-)

  • Virag Sharma says:

    Description of five Prayags was excellent :-)

    I come to know VOF via following link

    http://www.flowersofindia.net/vof-trek/index.html

    Hopefully next yr, i will be there :-) , of-course with group , friends and family

    Thanks for sharing info

  • ashish gaur says:

    hey bro,
    u did very good job. i appreciate u.
    very good writeup,lots of information,
    wonderful nature pics. thanks.

  • Thanks for the sharing the nice pictures. They are really lovely and natural.

  • sunandra says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for this. In 2009 i was there in august last week. I am trying to be there again. If you are ready to be there again so tell me.

  • Hemant says:

    Hi,
    I am planning to visit VOF in June. . . . what would be the flower condition there in this season. . . . Is is too early to visit VOF ??
    Thanks in advance

  • Wonderful description of the trek. You were lucky to visit the valley in it’s prime during the monsoons. The sight is breathtaking and something to be witnessed.

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