Valley of Flowers in India: Heaven in the Himalayas

Valley of Flowers in India: Heaven in the Himalayas: Among the many pleasures of visiting a far flung place amidst sprawling wilderness is the possibility of undiluted solitude. The allure of prolonged detachment from the life as I know it is what captured my imagination when I first heard of the place called the Valley of Flowers in India.

It took many years to finally gather the necessary time, resources and willpower to embark on the trip in the summer of 2019. The visual splendour that I was going to witness was never in doubt, but I did wonder if my quest for momentary solitude will really be successful. I think after reading this post you’ll be also ready for your next trip.

Valley of Flowers in India

As I reached Rishikesh from Mumbai via Haridwar, the landscape kept changing but the crowd did not. I spent the night at Rishikesh which I found to be a good place but still a bit too crowded for a world weary man. Nevertheless, the good part is that Rishikesh is the last stop in the great Indian plains. After that the ascent starts into the Himalayas. Shared cars and buses are readily available at cheap rates unimaginable for a metro dweller but the serpentine roads made sure that the vehicles move at a snail’s pace.

Nevertheless, the sluggish and bumpy ride hardly bothered me as I feasted on the sumptuous craftsmanship of nature that only got better as I proceeded further. I passed by places like Devaprayag, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Joshimath over the next couple of days. But my destination was still far away. I retired for the night at Govindghat, a small establishment on the National Highway 58.

Govindghat is the point where the real trek starts. The NH 58 goes all the way to Badrinath but to reach the Valley of Flowers, one must leave the motorable road, take a right turn and start a stiff climb. At this point I realized the route is not as secluded as I initially imagined. This is because the route first leads to Ghangaria, a small settlement higher up in the mountain 13 kms from Govindghat.

It acts as the base from where two major attractions can be visited. One is of course the Valley of Flowers in India and the other is the Hemkund Sahib, a Sikh shrine. Most of my fellow trekkers turned out to be Sikh pilgrims. There are small shops selling warm clothing, necessary equipment and religious souvenirs to the travellers.

Now, this is where both my dreams and nightmares began to come true. I loved a route devoid of automobiles but soon discovered that my laidback metro lifestyle has not left me capable of making this ascent on my own. I tried a few 100 metres and felt what Pheidippides must have felt after his run. So I finally swallowed my pride, hired a mule dragged by a local man and reached Ghangaria. I spent the evening photographing the small but lyrical waterfall near the settlement but the night was uncomfortable due to frequent power cuts.

A light drizzle threatened my final phase in the morning but nevertheless, I started the final part of my quest. Again it was a tough climb of around 4 kms but no mules, horses or any other assistance is available for this route. I stopped after every 100 metres, cursed my laidback past and finally after more than three hours, reached the valley that dreams are made of. It was June, the flowers are yet to bloom fully, but yet there was enough to see.

The lush green meadow was sprinkled with red, blue, purple and yellow dots and the resplendent sky was also clearing up with a clearer view of the mountains. There was no other human being in the vicinity, just as I hoped. I took out my camera and shot my heart out till it is almost dark. I had to reluctantly return in the evening as there is no provision of staying inside the valley.

One may ask if it was too short a reward for too long a quest but when I look at the photographs even now, I feel assured that it was worth it.

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