Valley at its Best
Valley of Flowers had been on my mind for a couple of years. Though I had prepared myself for the daunting task of reaching the valley, nothing in the world could have prepared me for what lay beyond. Some places are not just pretty, they leave an indelible mark on your mind, long after you come back. Valley of Flowers has that kind of a lure.
A wise man once said that 'The earth laughs in flowers’. Maybe that's the reason why flowers always make us smile. But when there are mammoth Himalayas rising from a bed of colourful flowers, negotiating with the clouds and reaching up to kiss the sky, the scene is nothing short of extraordinary.
The Blue Poppy flower
That is exactly what happened to me. One look at the jaw dropping sights and I was mesmerised. I had always been a beach person till then. It was when walking in the Valley of Flowers that I converted to a mountain lover.
At over 3500 meters above sea level, this postcard perfect place was discovered by British mountaineers in 1931. They actually lost their way around the mountains and stumbled upon this wonderland of flora and fauna. Aren’t we thankful? A World Heritage site today, the Valley of Flowers is home to a large variety of known and unknown Himalayan wildflowers that blossom every year. If you're lucky enough, you can also find the mystic Himalayan Blue Poppy here. In the olden times, these flowers were only considered a legend because not many people had really seen this magical flower.
The trek to Valley of Flowers is a six day adventure that's better done with professional guides. I planned mine with Great Indian Outdoors (GIO) and had an absolutely amazing time. When the monsoons dampen the plans everywhere else, Valley of Flowers comes to the rescue for trekking enthusiasts. This is majorly a monsoon trek. This also means that you have to be extra careful when there is a steady shower to give you company. But the effort is all worth it, since it offers a flourish of excellent views. With GIO, the base camps are cosy, the food (even at such high altitudes) is excellent, the guides are knowledgable and make the trek a pleasant one by a constant dose of information and anecdotes. They employ locals as staff members, so there's almost always someone to share stories of the mountains with the group. And also, locals know the routes well and the expertise helps.
Almost 16 km from the nearest motorable village of Govindghat in Uttarakhand lies the basecamp - the village of Ghangria. From here, the trek is 6km long. This first part of the trek can be avoided if necessary, but then that's not the way true mountain enthusiasts go about things. It took us an entire day to reach Ghangria, but the picturesque views that followed us to this village made up for the effort it took to reach. From Ghangaria, the trek gets steeper and the rain makes it difficult and slippery. The Valley of Flowers is only accessible from June- September, so there is practically no way to avoid rain. These hindrances make Valley of Flowers a mystical place, that's not accessible for everyone who loves to travel. One has to prove their mettle to be able to witness the glory of this paradise. As one approaches, the mountain paths start getting steeper, the peaks higher, and the air so pure it feels like nothing one has breathed before. One breath of that mountain air, and all the aches and pains vanish. All the senses feel rejuvenated. The eyes are awarded with splendid views of flower filled meadows for as far as they can see.
Valley in its Greenest self!
I picked up my camera and looked through the view finder. But instantly put it down. No photograph could do justice to this landscape.