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Valley of Flowers
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Valley of Flowers Valley of Flowers is a fairy-land situated high in the Himalayas of the Uttaranchal, at an altitude of 3,600 meters above the sea-level, protected by snowy mountains. Unknown to humans, for centuries this enchanting valley lay frozen during the colder months, and burst into its youthful beauty every year, as the snow melted with the advent of summer.

Every year, the valley was splashed with color as it bloomed with hundreds of kinds of flowers, taking on various shades of colors as months progressed. Finally one day, nature condescended to bless humans with this heavenly sight, when Frank Smith - mountaineer, explorer, and botanist - chanced upon it in the monsoon of 1931.

He authored a book called "The Valley of Flowers" which unveiled the beauty and floral splendors of the valley and made the world sit up and watch. It was declared a national park in 1982, and now it is a World Heritage Site. The locals, of course, always knew of the existence of the valley, and believed that it was inhabited by fairies.

The valley is home to many celebrated flowers like the Brahmakamal, the Blue Poppy and the Cobra Lily. It is a much sought after haunt for flower-lovers, botanists and of course trekkers, for whom a sufficient excuse to embark on a mission to reach a place, is that it exists!

Trek to Valley of Flowers
The trip starts by reaching Rishikesh from Delhi. For logistic reasons everybody seems to pass through Delhi. It is followed by an 11 hrs bus journey from Rishikesh to Joshimath. Then, 1 hr bus ride from Joshimath to Govindghat. Then comes the 14 km trek from Govindghat to Ghangria, along the river Lakshman Ganga. This is the most difficult, but also an enjoyable part of the trip. From the base camp Ghangria, the Valley of Flowers is a 3 km climb, where one has to go daily and come back the same day. The satellite picture above can give a reasonable idea about the location and the route.

The Grind Trek The Grind: the 14 km trek
Now comes the most difficult part, the 14 km trek from Govindghat to Ghangria. But first we have to reach Govindghat, which is a 21 km drive from Joshimath. The road is narrow, sometimes just makeshift after a landslide, and we can see river Alaknanda thundering along down below.

Reaching Govindghat, one has to walk about a km to reach the bustling small town, which serves mostly as a starting point of the trek to Hemkund Sahib, the beautiful lake, considered holy by the Sikhs. We move out of the town by crossing a foot bridge on the river which flows through Govindghat, and start climbing the track.

There are lots and lots of mule-waalas who offer to take us up. There are also porters (called Pitthoo) who offer to carry out luggage on their backs.. The climb is mostly steep, and occasionally levels out. But we put up a brave face and carry on. The path moves along river Lakshman Ganga, which flows down below. As we move up, we come closer to the level at which the river flows.

On the way, we pass the Bhyundaar village which looks picturesque, set in the middle of the mountains and the river flowing through it. Further up and we are able to climb down and reach the river. We decide to relax for some time next to the river. The flow is strong and nobody dares climb down into the cold water. Our eyes are peeled for flowers, and we already spot species of Cobra Lily, Clematis vine, and the beautiful Inula, which is sunflower like flower. Our flower hunt has already begun.

The trek continues and the last bit is a very steep climb which tires out everybody. The rule of the mountains is that one shouldn't get disappointed with the tiring climbs - one is always rewarded with a beautiful view from the top. The final walk which takes us into Ghangria, a small village by the side of the river Lakshman Ganga. Ghangria, it seems, serves only one purpose - act as a base camp for people going to Hemkund and the Valley of Flowers.