No adjectives can suitably describe the beauty of the Valley of Flowers in Uttarkhand. You have to actually trek to the valley and get mesmerised by the breathtaking view. As the snow melts and the entire valley is a riot of colours with the flowers in full bloom, the picture-perfect spectacle in front of you is sheer magic. Best travelled between July and August, this trek is a heartwarming experience. At an altitude of 3,658 metre above sea level, as you trek your way up the valley you will forget your exhaustion as the carpet of blue, red, pink, yellow, magenta, white and purple flowers greet you.
Govind Ghat to Ghangria
If you are travelling from Haridwar or Rishikesh, hiring a taxi to Govind Ghat (from where the trek to the valley begins) is the best option. Carry only your backpack with you. Carrying food along is not necessary as there are innumerable eateries dotting the uphill trail. In case you want a porter or a mule, take one from Govind Ghat. But for the physically fit, the 13-km trek to Ghangria is not an uphill task.
As you trail your way along the Alaknanda river, which is crystal clear, you will be impressed by the cleanliness of the path that hundreds tread every day. We were told that the volunteers were responsible for the upkeep. You can stop by at the roadside dhabas anytime you want to refresh yourself. Around midday, you get to cross the sparkling river and get your way across the other bank. I was a little exhausted after a few hours, so opted for a mule and got my tired feet rested. It is about Rs 500 for a one-way ride up.
After a trek of almost 7 hours, we were in Ghangria, where we put up at a hotel for the night. There is a Gurudwara here which offers free food and accommodation for everyone. So, in case you want to deviate from the usual hotel experience, spend the night at the house of worship. Otherwise, there are several budget hotels that are available in plenty.
Ghangria to the valley
We were told to set out early if we wanted to spend the maximum amount of time amidst the carpet of flowers. At sharp 6 am we were ready to set our eyes on the “slice of paradise”. After about half a kilometer of the trek, you reach your destination. As I entered the gate, I couldn’t suppress my excitement as mist enveloped the valley for a while, but the soothing sound of the gushing waterfalls nearby and the fragrance of the flowers were overpowering.
Slowly as the mist disappeared, and the sun was beautifully up in the sky I felt as if the entire valley was welcoming me with the myriad hues of flowers. Whether you look towards your right or left or right in front of you, the picture itself is postcard like. The bridge across a gushing stream, the majestic mountains right in front, the clear blue sky and not to forget the ornate flowers in full bloom made me feel as if I am in paradise. I sat by a stream soaking my feet in the cool waters, watching the bees and the butterflies dancing in the afternoon sun, as we ate our lunch that we had packed from the dhaba. Yes, you need to pack your lunch for the day, as there is nothing available in the valley.
After spending hours, where you lose track of the time, the valley turns a different shade as the sun falls from a different direction. Setting out a little early is recommended, as you cannot predict the weather.
With a heavy heart I started my descent and followed the same trail that we had taken from Ghangria, but with a promise to return again. As I closed my eyes I could not see anything but the vast expanse of flowers in full bloom for nearly a week. You will have to see it to believe it.
You can get a bus to Haridwar or Rishikesh from Delhi. There are several private buses as well as state-run buses, which you can avail of. Once you reach Haridwar or Rishikesh, taking a taxi to Govind Ghat will be your best option. In case, you are hard pressed for time, you can get to Rishikesh directly by bypassing Haridwar. Check out for your tickets for Haridwar or Rishikesh at www.ticketgoose.com.