Having been on my bucket list for a long time, it was only last monsoon season that I managed to get to the Valley of Flowers. Reaching the valley is quite the experience. A car can take you only as far as Govindghat, or just a bit further till Pulna after which it’s a 10 km uphill journey to the base town of Ghangaria. You can choose to either walk that entire distance (a problem if you have luggage, or are short on time or energy) or ride a pony (fair warning: they do tend to slip over the rain-soaked roads). Helicopters are also an option, but an unreliable one given the tricky weather. As soon as you reach Ghangaria, hire a room, stash your luggage, and prep for the trek to the Valley.
The current route is carved along the mountain (post the 2013 floods) and is as rocky as it is beautiful (plenty of sights and sounds to cherish) so starting early is key, especially if you’re not a seasoned trekker. Give it about four hours till you reach the valley, then walk as far as you can through the area or perch yourself on a high rock somewhere in the middle of the sea of blossoms and stop for a breather after the trek. Plucking flowers is prohibited, but there are no rules against cameras – make sure you have your batteries charged and memory cards cleared because you’re going to be clicking non-stop.
If after this, you still have time to spare, hike down to the memorial of colonial-era botanist, Joan Margaret Legge, which stands near the spot where she died collecting flowers for her research work on the valley. After you have had your fill of stunning 360° views, all made of flowers and misty mountains and distant waterfalls, start on the trek back to Ghangaria.
A local initiative also runs daily shows of a documentary on the Bhyundar valley and its flora, which can be a great way to familiarise yourself with what you would see on your trip to this World Heritage Site. The ticket-house (in Ghangaria) also sells copies of Frank Smythe’s original 1938 text, Valley Of Flowers, which was responsible for creating awareness about the wonders of the place – and can be a good post-trek read (or maybe even inspiration to write a travel blog of your own).
PS: People would generally suggest making this trip during the peak summer months but I personally think the Valley of Flowers is at its best during the rains – green, fed by full rivers, and teeming with flowers as far as the eye can see. As long as you’re okay braving a few cloudbursts.
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