Saturday, July 21, 2012

Valley of flowers, National Park, India

Valley of flowers National Park, India

Valley of flowers is not a place for picnic, it has its own risks ( Ref. flash floods & landslides in June 2013)

It is one of the best destinations for nature & trek lovers: lots of bright flowers, scenic place, beautiful Himalayan peaks around and good trek, it has all.

Valley of flowers: The Grand View

This is a huge valley surrounded by high peaks a peaceful and natural fort where beautiful river and amazing bright colors flower beds make you feel you are in touch with active and caring mother nature. So all in all its a good opportunity to have peaceful time, a good trek and perfect opportunity to be with nature.

View from Ghangaria, Stream in Valley of flowers, Way to Ghangaria.

The Valley of Flowers was declared a National Park in 1982 and World heritage Site by UNSECO in 2005.

Good time to visit Valley of flowers: National park is open in the months of June through October, its spring time in valley of flowers which is otherwise covered under a thick sheet of snow.
A unique proposition: At the altitude of 3,658 m (Valley altitude) – 6,719 m (Gauri Parbat) it is quite unique to find flowers that too bright in colors and this makes it a divine experience and gives unique feeling. During the season (June – October) the valley changes it colors every 15 days based on what flowers are in bloom.

Valley Of Flowers, Himalaya, India: Trail inside National park

Location: From small town Gobindghat, near Joshimath, Uttarakhand, Valley Of Flowers is a trek of total 17 Km. There is no habitation inside the National Park. Camping and / or overnight stay are not allowed inside the park, one has to return back in the evening. It is situated around 27 Km towards north from Himalayan town Joshimath, Uttarakhand. Joshimath onwards, it is one way motorable road, till town Govindghat. Govindghat onwards, you have to either trek or ride a Pony for 13 km till Ghangaria town. There are GMVN & Private rooms available in Ghangaria. Valley of flowers gate is 3 Km from Ghangaria and one has to walk to the National park. (Joshimath --- motorable road ---> Gobindghat--- trek / pony ride, 14 Km ---> Ghangaria --- Trek, 3 Km ---> Valley of flowers, Gate). For elderly people, there is a option of hiring porters who carry people on their backs in a specially made wicker basket. One can hire them to carry luggage such as camera equipment as well.

Valley Of Flowers, Himalaya, India

How to reach Valley of flowers: From Delhi to Joshimath (505 Km), it takes 17 Hrs aprox. by road, using private car. The road is not in good condition so choose a car / SUV with powerful engine and very good ground clearance. One can take overnight halt at Joshimath and next morning start the journey to Gobindghat and park the car there (or car can be left in Joshimath and use local transport till Gobindghat). From Gobindghat, walk or ride a pony till Ghangharia (3,050 m altitude), it is 14 kms distance, mostly uphill and last 2 km is tough. For an average city dwellers (non Trekkers) I would recommend Pony ride, otherwise it becomes tiring. Take a room here or if you are a big group you can also try cot basis dormitories. Valley of flowers is 3 Km from Ghangaria and you will have to walk as Pony ride is not allowed in National park.

Photo Gallery of Valley Of flowers:

Other important details:

Time taken to visit Valley Of flowers:

Valley Of flowers takes 7 / 8 days, total round trip from Delhi if you want to cover Hemkund saheb and Badrinath Ji temple along with Valley of Flowers.

You can plan your trip as below:
i.   3 / 4 days round trip travel from Delhi to Ghangharia ( 505 Km road + 14 Km Trek)
ii.  3 days for Valley of flowers & Hemkund Saheb
iii. 1 Day for Badrinath Ji Temple.

Keep 3 days for valley of flowers as its difficult to predict rains in mountains, so if you have 3 days, you have a good chance that at least one day will be bright and clear (its a gamble). Sometime because of landslides the route is closed for some time, so keep that in mind while planing.

Before visiting Valley Of flowers:

i. Do some research on History of Valley of flowers and flora found in the National park.
ii. One can also watch the documentary film at the tourist center in Ghangaria, In my view its a must before going for the trek into the National Park.

Precautions while in Valley of flowers:

i.   There is no mobile coverage in the National Park. Although one can use land line phones in Ghangaria market.
ii.  Avoid uncooked food (Salads) and un-boiled drinks (lemonade, Juices etc) during the visit.
iii. You have to carry your own water & food items for the day inside the National park.

Best time to visit Valley Of flowers:

Valley of flowers is open for visitors Jun to Oct.
i. Please keep extra days in plan during monsoon / rainy season because of frequent landslides and roadblocks.
ii. Avoid Hindu month of "saawan".

Travel to Valley Of flowers:
1) Public:
Bus: Delhi - Hardwar / Hrishikesh - Joshimath

2) Private:
 - Hire a taxi OR own car (take a car with high ground clearance & strong engine).
- The ride is long and bumpy, its demanding. Only experienced drivers can drive.
- Drive (Delhi - Joshimath) will take total 20 Hrs (Aprox, including lunch breaks, photo breaks)
- Take a night halt at any good town en-route.
- *** Suggestion: Do not try to drive on hills in night, its not really comfortable. ***

Specifications of trek:

Any Permission required: No (One needs to register at the gate of National Park)
Level of difficulty: Moderate – moderate / tough
Start: Gobindghat, 3,050 m above sea level
End: Valley of flowers, 3,658 m above sea level
Distance: 17 Km (Aprox.)
Time taken: Gobinghat-to-Ghangaria (14 Km, Uphill) 6 Hrs - 8 Hrs (depends on your fitness.)
                     Ghangaria -to-Valley of flowers (3 Km, uphill) 1 Hrs (its small but uphill trek)
                     Trek in the National Park – Its so beautiful, distance becomes immaterial :)
Water & food: Pack some for trek in National park. Also pack Chocolates, Dry fruit in your bag.
Rain Coat / Jacket: Always carry raincoat for the National Park, do keep warm clothes.

i.  No one is allowed in National park after sunset.
ii. Camping is not allowed inside the National park.

List of items to carry:

Take clothes, shoes ..extra pairs as weather may change swiftly without warning...
Camera (Still / VDO) / Charger / Memory Card / DVDs
Medicines / small first aid kit / Crape Bandage/Spray
Dry Fruits (500 gms) / Chocolates ( in case road back is washed away and you need emergency food supply)
Map printouts / Travel Plan
Cash (No ATMs in Gobindghat & Ghangaria)
Torch light
Raincoat is must (light in weight)

Places to see en-route, in & around Valley Of flowers:

i.    Hemkund Saheb, Holy place for Sikhs ( 6km, Steep uphill from Ghangaria. Beautiful Lake & Sikh temple on the mountain.)
ii.  Badrinath Ji Temple, holy place for Hindus (some 40 Kms from Joshimath, motorable route. )
iii. Mana Village & other Hindu religious places (A nice village near Badrinath ji Temple, last India village toward the border)