Valley of Flowers located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand is heaven on earth. It is a land covered with snow for half of the year. Visit here is allowed from June to October. I was lucky enough to visit this place in the month of August 2022.
The journey started from Thiruvananthapuram on 31.07.2022 in the noon Kerala Express train. The train reached New Delhi Railway Station on 02.08.2022 at 01.15 PM. From there Dehradun Janshatabdhi train left at 03.20 hrs to Haridwar at 7.45 pm and then from Haridwar to Joshimath the next day (03.08.2022) at 07.45 am Joshimath is a fairly big town on the way from Haridwar to Badrinath. Bus tickets were pre-booked online. Reached Joshimath around 06.30 pm. Got a room there (rent 500 rupees for a decent room).
On 04.08.2022 at 09.30 a.m. from Joshimath to Govindghat on the Badrinath route by shared taxi (reached the taxi stand at 8.00 a.m. but had to wait till 09.30 a.m. as the taxi was not full). Reached Govindghat around 10.00 am. From here begins the journey to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib, a major pilgrimage site for religious people. Both these places have a common base camp called Gangaria, situated at an altitude of 10000 feet, about 14 km from Govindghat. Shared taxis are available from Govindghat to the village of Pulna, which is 4 km away, after which you have to walk for a further 10 km.
Reached Pulna village by shared taxi from Govindghat at 11.30 am. The atmosphere was very clear. Around 12.00 pm the walk towards Gangaria started. The beginning was very tough but as we progressed we gradually adapted to the situation. It is essentially a wide paved path. Some places have been concreted. Horses carrying people and goods up and down create minor difficulties for pedestrians.
The road to Gangaria is very beautiful and goes along the banks of a stream with beautiful waterfalls cascading down from the nearby huge mountains, the music of birds and beautiful and green forest areas make the journey unforgettable. In the evening, light drizzle started. Covering the bag so that it does not get wet, the walk continued despite the drizzle. Reached Gangaria at 06.30 pm.
Gangaria is a village on the banks of a stream, surrounded by hills. Rooms are available there starting from Rs.500. Pay two or three times more than the food below. It was raining that night. On 05.08.2022 with Vaibhav, a native of Uttarakhand living in Himachal Pradesh whom he met on the way, he left to see the Valley of Flowers after having breakfast on 05.08.2022 and it was still raining. Half a kilometer from Gangaria, there is an office of the forest department and a ticket counter. On reaching there, we got the disappointing information that due to the previous day’s rain, there were problems at many places on the way to the valley and therefore entry would not be allowed that day. Reentered the road to Hemkund Sahib hoping for the next day if the rain subsides (August is the heaviest rainy season for Uttarakhand, so 2 more days were reserved for the journey).
From Gangaria, the first day was to the Valley of Flowers and the second day to Hemkund Sahib. In the new situation decided to go to Hemkund Sahib on the first day. Hemkund Sahib is located at an altitude of 15200 feet above sea level and is 6 km from Gangaria. The path is stony and wide but the climb is steep. Low oxygen levels due to high altitude are also a challenge. Horse and basket rides are also available here. It was raining non-stop. It is very cold. Walking does not affect the cold much. It is a steep climb. There are a couple of shops where you can get tea etc. In between, he drank some tea and walked up. A variety of flowers can be seen on both sides of the path. Also, there are many white falls and streams on the way.
We could see some small animals in one or two places. In one place, the snow is spreading down between two mountains. A small stream is coming out from below it. Enjoying the beautiful views and capturing them on camera, we slowly reached the top. There is a small lake at the top and a mandir built on its banks. The scenery there is very beautiful. The snow on top of the mountains around the lake melts and flows down into the lake. A layer of unmelted snow can be seen near the lake. The surrounding hills are full of flowers, here and there Brahma lotuses are blooming in pale yellow color. The fog that goes past hides the view in seconds. The mesmerizing beauty appears at intervals. Feeling uncomfortably cold. The view of the temple from the top of the hill is beautiful. Those who reach the top visit the temple and return immediately. Some return after taking a dip in the lake despite the cold.
I decided to spend some time there, the intention was to take some photos, it was so foggy that I couldn’t see anything. After about half an hour, the rain stopped and it was sunny. I could see clearly around. All around are giant mountains towering to the sky, and silvery fountains flowing down from them. Spent some time there enjoying the beautiful scenery. Then slowly started walking back. On the way back, the knee was very sore. He walked back to Gangaria without any pain. Due to fatigue, he quickly reached the room and rested for a while.