Valley of Flowers is God’s own country. Hidden from the outside world, known only to some highland inhabitants of the Bhyundar Valley, it was avidly avoided by the shepherds of the hills, believing it to be the celestial playground of the god, nymphs and fairies.
The mysterious valley was discovered by the World renowned British explorer, botanist and mountaineer Frank S Smith in 1937. His book ” The Valley of Flowers” lifted the veil of the hidden beauty to the outside world. Valley of flowers is a mystery till today. An irresistible wonder for nature lovers, botanists, ecologists, zoologists.ornithologists and trekkers. It is one of the most coveted national Natural Parks.
The Valley of Flowers National Park, a stunning landscape location located in Uttarakhand, bordered by Nepal and Tibet, comes alive with the monsoon rain. This Park in high-altitude Himalayan valley. There are around 300 different varieties of alpine flowers. The park is spread over 87.5 square kilometers, and was declared a national park in 1982. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main Valley of Flowers is a glacial corridor, around five kilometers long and two kilometers wide.
An Alpine valley formed by retreating glaciers, whose movements through millions of years shaken the hard rocks beneath, forming a unique ‘U’ – shape of valley. It houses some of the rarest flora and fauna, that have wonderful evolutionary process to adopt the harsh geographical and climatic conditions.
The valley of flowers
This unusual valley if flanked in either side by lofty peaks that remain snow-capped round the year. The Pushpawati river, emerging from the glacial resources of Rataban range, cuts through the valley to divide in two. Many streams flowing from the glaciers merge into the river. one has to walk over the glacial dams to cross the streams, quiet often.
The Blooming Season in the valley of flowers
From November to May, the Valley remains under thick layer of snow. The thaw happens in june when the valley bursts into colours. The moist turf begins to pulsate with life. Innumerable plants and flowers shoot up conjuring up bewitching beauties around
The Valley of Flowers is only open from the beginning of June until the end of September as it’s covered in snow the rest of the year. The best time to visit is from mid July to mid August, when the flowers are in full bloom after the first monsoon rain.
More than 300 species of rare wild flowers bloom here, which is an important happening for the botanist and trekkers in the region. Some plants which come out in full colours are Lilium Ranunculus, corydalis, Sibbaldia, Pedicularis, Bistorta, Anaphalis, Marsh, Marigold, Eqilobium, Cypirpedium Strawberry, Rhododendrons and Brahma Kamal.
Rare Beauties in the valley of flowers
Arisaema Costatum, Which is known as Arum is a beautiful plant, whose head resembles that of a cobra. It grows in the valley in splendid isolation.
Nomocharis Oxypetala, the rarest and the most beautiful plant resembles the full blown sun. It grows in the slopes of the valley.
Saussurea Obvallata, the Brahma Kamal, is the King of flowers, growing only at an attitude above 3800 mtrs.
If you go before July, you’ll find hardly any flowers at all. However, you will be able to see melting glaciers. After mid August, the color of the Valley changes quite dramatically from greenish to yellowish, and the flowers slowly die. In regards to the weather, temperatures get quite cold at night and in the early morning.
In winter , the Valley freezes with the view of heavenly glaciers. the entire Valley lies beneath, like a polished steel. The medows get quilted under thick layer of snow.
How to get to valley of flowers
The nearest airport is in Dehradun, 295 kilometers away, and the nearest railway station is in Rishikesh, 276 kilometers away. The closest you can get to The Valley of Flowers by road is Govind Ghat which is 19 km from the valley. This requires around a 10 hour drive to Joshimath, then another one hour to Govind Ghat.
From Govind Ghat it’s a 13 kilometer (8 mile) trek along a steep, narrow, but well defined mountain trail to base camp at Ghangaria. This will take between 4 to 8 hours, depending on your fitness! The start of the main valley, where all the flowers are, is a further 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from Ghangaria.
Trekking : The trek starts from Govindghat (19 kms.), on the way to Badrinath having two major gradients. One initially from Alaknanda and other from Bhyunder to Ghanghria.
Route : Govindghat, Ghanghria, Hemkund Sahib, Valley of Flowers. Badrinath, Rishikesh.
Walk thru the majestic valley, cross the hill streams and rivers accompanied by butterflies, birds, Himalayan bear, leopards and musk deers.
LOCATION map to valley of flowers
The Valley of Flowers National Park is located in Chamoli Garhwal, near Nanda Devi National Park. It’s about 595 kilometers from Delhi, and has an altitude that varies from 10,500 feet to 21,900 feet above sea level.
To prevent trekkers and livestock from taking too much of a toll on the park, access to The Valley of Flowers is restricted to daylight hours (from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and camping is prohibited. The last entry to the park is at 3 p.m. You’ll need to go from, and return to, Ghangaria on the same day.
Entry Fees and Charges
The entry fee is 600 rupees ($12) for foreigners and 150 rupees for Indians for a 3 day pass. Each additional day is 250 rupees ($5) for foreigners and 50 rupees for Indians.
Where to Stay
It’s best to stay overnight in Joshimath before continuing to Ghangaria. The government run Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) guesthouses are the reliable options for accommodations in the area, and advance bookings are possible. Can also stay in Ghangaria Forest Rest House but you will have to carry your provisions.
Exotic flowers and foliage can be found all along the route from Ghangria to the main valley. Make sure you pack of clothes in case you get rained on and carry some food with you for the hike. Govind Ghat and Ghangaria get quite crowded from July to September with Sikh pilgrims on their way to Hem Kund, so it’s a good idea to book accommodations in advance. Hiring a porter at Govind Ghat to carry you luggage to Ghangaria is also recommended to make the trek easier.
Other places to see near valley of flowers
Trek route starting from Joshimath to Kuari Pass in the Garhwal, Chamoli district of Himalayas, which has evolved into the hub for trekkers and pilgrims in this part of the Himalayas. Confluences of several rivers – the Pinder, Kaliganga, Nandakini, Birehiganga & Dhauli Ganga give make up the Pancha-Prayag – namely, Devprayag, Karnaprayag, Devprayag and Rudraprayag. The trek then proceeds through small remote Himalayan villages. Walking along the Curzon trail through these villages is a great way to get acquainted with the life of the mountain folks.
Nadandevi National Park
Nanda Devi National Park is situated in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The spectacular panoramas of peaks encircling the National Park are Trishul (7120 m) Dunagiri (7066 m) Nanda Devi (7817 m) Nanda Devi East (7430 m) Bethartoli (6352 m) Along with the adjoining Valley of Flowers National Park to the northwest.The beautiful surroundings with abundant flora and fauna like Brahma-Kamal and Bharal (blue mountain goat) make this a sanctuary of nature. The Nanda Devi National Park, which has been declared a world heritage site, has been partially opened recently for restricted number of tourist.