Words fail to describe the surreal beauty of this enchanting place. Part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve along with the Nanda Devi National Park, it found its way into the list of UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2004. The valley perches atop a height of about 11000 feet to 14000 feet above sea level and is only accessible from July to September. Rest of the year, mother nature covers this beautiful child of her’s in a thick blanket of snow. In fact, nature fiercely guarded the valley from marauding humans for centuries and it was only discovered in 1931 when a group of British mountaineers lost their way and stumbled across the place by accident.
This fairytale landscape bursts into a colourful bloom of an exotic variety of alpine floral life during peak season time (August and September). The place is also covered with extremely rare flowers such as Cobra Lily, Brahmakamal and the Blue Poppy. The gentle landscape of the valley strikes a stunning contrast against the ruggedly handsome layout of the Nanda Devi National Park. Denizens of the deep faraway wilderness such as snow leopards, blue sheep and Asiatic black bears and brown bears also call this area home.
The valley is held in great awe even by inhabitants of local nearby villages. Stories go that it is the dwelling place of fairies and the aroma of flowers here is so overbearing that the one who stays in the valley too long, will lose consciousness. Another legend has it that the valley came into existence when the gods showered flowers upon the place. Seems like a lot of mumbo jumbo? My feelings exactly before I visited the valley. However, the fact is that when the raw beauty of the valley assails your senses, it seems that you have strayed into a peaceful dimension where all these tales are innocent truths and the logic and reasoning of civilization are cynical observations of ignorant people.
How to Reach the Valley of Flowers?
It takes some effort to reach this heaven on earth. Here’s how.
- First, you need to travel to Rishikesh and stay there overnight.
- Hop on to a bus early next morning for Joshimath. Brace yourself for a serpentine drive across hilly terrain for about 11 hours. Alternatively, you may hire a shared or personal cab to Rudraprayag. From here, you will have to book a cab to Chamoli. In case, you don’t find one, take a cab to Karn Prayag. From Karn Prayag or Chamoli, hop on to a cab for Joshimath. It’s easier to find a cab for Joshimath from Chamoli. By the time you reach Joshimath, you will be dead tired. Try to hit the bed as early as possible.
- Get up early and take a cab to Govindghat, which is around 21 km away. The path is very precarious and you will have to cover the last km or so on foot.
- From Govindghat, it’s a 14 km trek to Ghangaria. Make sure that you buy the funny looking cheap raincoats at Govindghat and also some food before starting your trek. Hire porters if you are carrying luggage. Now, start on your trek or hire a mule.
- Sleep out the night at Ghangaria. Next morning, pack some food and proceed to the ‘Valley of Flowers’ on foot or straddle a mule again. The destination is about 3 km away from Ghangaria.
- Mules are not allowed inside the ‘Valley of Flowers’ and it is mandatory for visitors to come back during daytime. The valley is open from 6am to 6pm and one is not permitted to enter after 3 pm.
About the Author
Pinak Shome is a member of the enthusiastic iXiGO fraternity and an avid traveller.