Have you ever been to a place so hauntingly beautiful, that first it takes your breath away, and then returns it back, with a bout of air so fresh, that you never want to come back to civilization to breathe the super-polluted air ever again? I had the fortune of visiting one such place, and life has never been the same after that. My trip to the Valley of Flowers, Uttrakhand was a life-altering experience in ways more than one, and I would not shy away from saying that it made a beach person like me finally fall in love with the mountains as well.
Valley of Flowers National Park is a World Heritage Site, and rightly so. It is home to a large variety of flora and fauna, many of which are rare and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. At a height of around 3,500 meters above the sea level, is a world so beautiful and pristine that one feels that, if there is a heaven on earth, it is right here!
Valley of Flowers, as it is called, is home to a huge variety of flowering plants, with flowers so pleasing to the eye, some of them having medicinal value as well. Flowers start blooming once the ice melts and every few weeks, new species bloom, replacing the older ones. It’s like nature’s own painting, with different colors every month of the year. How much ever I try, I can’t describe it’s beauty, as it is a place too beautiful to be described in words. A poetry, maybe can do justice.
The valley is accessible only for a few months from June till September and that too, via a trek and no horses or helicopters are allowed inside. Rest of the months, it is not reachable due to the high volume of snow. Maybe that is why it still is as pristine since it’s very nicely secluded from the prying eyes of humans. To reach this remote location is no easy task, but the effort is really worth for what you get to see. Lush green valleys, snow covered peaks, gushing waterfalls, colorful flowers, chirping birds and beautiful rivers all make it like a piece of paradise.
Valley of Flowers Trek starts from a village called Govindghat in the Joshimath area of Uttrakhand. The 16km trek to Ghangria is full of amazing views and is best done by foot, even though one can easily take a horse or a helicopter. I preferred to walk my way upwards, because I wanted to do it at my own pace, stopping to admire the beauty around or click a picture whenever my heart desired. One can’t get that kind of freedom on a horse-back. But, be ready for aches and pains once the 16km trek is over and you reach village Ghangria.
We had set up our base camp at Ghangria and spent a night there before heading to the Valley the next day. Ghangria is a beautiful village, well equipped with tourist facilities and a helipad. Things are a little expensive than usual, but given the height of the place and the effort required to bring them here, it sounded okay to me. Mobile signals don’t usually work here, so there are old school PCOs all around. Ghangria is the last village here and there’s no sign of civilization thereafter. Many pilgrims visiting the Hemkund Sahib also camp at Ghangria for the night. It is a hub of tourist activity but it’s not as crowded as our hill stations and that comes as a real relief.
Valley of Flowers is around 5kms from Ghangria, and the ascent is quite treacherous. But the valley is so beautiful that all the tiredness just vanishes into thin air once you see it. Once you reach the valley, it’s all up to you how much far into it you want to go into it. But, it isn’t advisable to go alone as there are areas where the fragrance of the flowers is so strong that it makes one lose consciousness. Hauntingly beautiful, I told you.
It was very very hard for me to turn my back towards this heaven and start the trek back to Ghangria. Everything all around was just so beautiful that it didn’t make sense to return to civilization again. Even the DSLR quality pictures one brings back are just not enough. What the eyes saw, is etched in my permanent memory, and labelled as my ‘happy place’ to go back to, whenever the heart desires. It is another fact that I’ve promised myself to return every year, during a different month, to witness new colors and make more memories.
About the Author: Akanksha Dureja, of www.akankshadureja.com is SRK Devotee, Blogger, Traveiler, Ametuer Photographer, Book Lover, Proud Feminist, Techie – in that order. A girl whose best friends are not diamonds but travel vouchers to places both exotic as well as offbeat and a lifetime supply of books.