Flowers and Flowers. Mountains with variety of flowers all around. It is one of its rarest in the world.Yes it is in the state of Uttranchal in India.
The walk is no bed of roses, but the valley blooms like no other.
You know that improbable scenery on glossy posters stuck in STD booths? A picture of flowers and waterfalls and a caption reading if you dont understand my silence, you will not understand my words?
Its an hours bus ride to Gobindghat. Cross the bridge there to the 14 km footpath leading to Ghangariya. There are mule wallahs stationed at 10 metre intervals all along the path.With a ban on campers and poines, the valley remains pristine.
The approach to the valley is through oak, spruce and silver birch forests. The mountains are misty, the light is soft and you will feel warmer as you reach the place where the valley opens out. Its flanked by 5,000-6,000 meter peaks, tapering into grassy slopes. Waterfalls and streams flow from the heights into the Pushpawati River, which emerges from a glacier near Rataban and joins the Bhyundar Ganga and then the Alaknanda.
Wildflowers are everywhere a sea of green dotted with pink and yellow and red. In the middle are green tin boards which say things like Saussurea obvallata. Which one of the eight kinds of flowers that grow around the board does this refer t?
It was known to locals as Bhyundar Valley, the place of fairies and nymphs. Now they just call it Phoolon ki Ghati. One side track leads over alpine slops to a waterfall and a panoramic view. From here you can see varieties in the flower colonies. Its pleasantly quiet. Spot a flag marking the grave of an English botanist who died while exploring the valley in 1939.
When to go
The path to Hemkund is open from June to October. The Valley of Flowers is in full bloom from July to September.
Where to stay
Joshimath: GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) tourist rest houses. Peak season deluxe $20; double $15; dorm $10/bed. Some hotels charge $10/room and up. Auli (15km away) has luxury hotels.
Ghangariya: GMVN tourist resthouses (price 20% higher than at Joshimath); 1000-bed
Gurudwara; Shikhar Nature campsite (only in season) 1km away with all amenities, $15/tent
What to do
The Auli ski resort (at 3000m) is accessible from Joshimath by cable car ($15, 8am-5pm). Walk to Gorson (alpine meadow, great views of Hathi Parbat and other Peaks). From Gobindghat, a 10km bus ride to Badrinath.
Delhi-Rishikesh: Frequent buses from ISBT from 5am -11pm (6 hrs): Shatabdi Express train (6am 5hrs).
Rishikesh Joshimath: Buses from 5am to 9am. There are no buses after 9am, since vehicles do not ply on these roads after dark (11hrs, ). Shared taxis (9hrs, 10 people per Sumo).
Joshimath- Gobindghat: Buses (1 hr drive Rs 10) and shared taxis from 6.30 am to 4.30pm.
Theres a gate system which remains closed after 4.30 pm for ALL vehicles. For Gobindghat to Joshimath, the gates open at 7.50 am and close at 5.45pm.
Shikhar Nature camp, Ghangariya
Gobindghat-Ghangariya-Hemkund: 114 km walk, ponies and porters available. Charges are negotiable (Rs 150-Rs 400, Gobindghat-Ghangariya).
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