The Valley of Flowers: Paradise on Earth

June 20th – Paradise and back, 3 km trek to The Valley of Flowers

We woke up to the shouts of the people in the hotel asking us to check out at 8 am in the morning. After paying off Rs 600 for the room, the owner asked us if we would like to stay in a Deluxe room as his hotel had few vacant rooms. He was charging Rs 1200, we told him no thank you and left. He warned us that we would not get rooms in the evening as it would most probably get packed again.

We did not like the service his hotel provided, the previous night we sat in his restaurant tired and there was no waiter to attend to us for nearly 20 minutes, and then we walked over to the next one. People also kept banging our door and barging in without knocking, Bhavika was getting quite harrowed with the latter.

We found out the rates of various hotels on the way, everyone was quoting Rs 1200 for a double bed room, even if it did not have any good view. We walked on as both of us had seen a nice looking place to stay in when we had just entered Ghangaria but it was already full the previous evening. It was small so we both had our doubts if we would get a room, but decided to test our luck.

GMVN, government accommodation at Ghangaria

GMVN, tourist accommodation at Ghangaria

To our surprise the place was owned by the government and rooms were available here as well, though the room we chose did not have a view. It had a huge bed, two big leather chairs, a nice small table, small cupboard and a spectacularly well-maintained bathroom which is the first thing we check when it comes to rooms. The view in the little courtyard outside the rooms was magnificent.

By the time we settled in it was quite late, we were passing our time talking, taking pictures until we went across the road to Hotel Himalaya to have lunch. We really enjoyed the warm service at Himalaya, as compared to the other places and ended up coming there for a meal everyday.

hotel himalaya at ghangaria

Hotel Himalaya, place to eat in Ghangaria

We then decided to go for a walk but the rain forced us to get back to our room and we sipped on some rum as it rained. The GMVN service was quite nice, a person came to our room in the evening and asked us if we would like to have dinner in the room or their restaurant that was not visible from our room, it was on a level lower than where the rooms are. We decided to get out, the food was pathetic, the Mushroom soup was like drinking hot salt water with a tad bit of flavour.

I forced the fried rice down, as Bhavika couldn’t eat and the Veg Manchurian tasted like corn flour. We then went for a walk to call our respective parents, as we didn’t get mobile reception there. There are very few STD booths in Ghangaria, so you have to write down the number on a piece of paper and give it those guys who will dial the number for you. The standard STD/ISD rates in Ghangaria are Rs 15 for 1 minute and Rs 10 for every ½ minute. If I remember an International call would costs around Rs 60 a minute. We then sat in a one of the eating joints to have some Kheer (Sweet dish made of rice, milk and dry fruits) and Custard. It was quite tasty and after that we called it a night, as we were heading to the Valley of Flowers in Uttaranchal the next morning.

June 19th Expenses

Room Rent: Rs 600
Stay at GMVN Hotel: Rs 1900 (2 Nights)
Lunch at Himalayan: Rs 145
Water & Coke (500 ml): Rs 90
Dinner at GMVN: Rs 115 (Egg Fried Rice, Vegetable Manchurian and Soup)
Std Calls: Rs 70
Custard & Kheer: Rs 70

It was a bright sunny day as we geared up to trek to The Valley of Flowers, we had heard a lot about that place and couldn’t wait to witness this jewel in the Himalayas. It is a 3 Kilometer trek from the end of Ghangaria, which is approx. 150 meters from where we were staying.

You need to carry some food from Ghangaria as you won’t get anything to eat up there, and if you want to spend some good amount of time in the valley, it makes sense to pack some food. We parceled few Aloo Parathas and Bread & Potato, Onion Pakodas along with two Samosas. We carried too much food and only ended up consuming the Aloo Parathas towards the end of our journey, the rich mineral water from the melting ice and the fresh green air nourished us. Just before you enter the gate to the park you have a board that talks about the animals (Snow Leopards, Blue Sheep etc.) and the picturesque location of the Valley of Flowers (Phoolon ki Ghati in Hindi).

Welcome to the Valley of Flowers, the UNESCO site

Welcome to the Valley of Flowers, the UNESCO site

Since the Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are rules that need to be followed to help it maintain its divinity. Though unfortunately one of the rules was that you cannot camp in the valley.
Rules and regulations to follow at Valley of Flowers

Rules and regulations to follow at Valley of Flowers

The best season to visit the Valley is from August to September when all the flowers blossom. We were a little early but managed to get around 15 of the prominent species in bloom. The list of the prominent flowers and the months that they bloom in are below.
Different species of flowers and their season of blooming

Different species of flowers and their season of blooming

We had to pay Rs 100 as a permit to enter the valley, I later checked the pass and saw that it was valid for three days. Using a professional still camera in the Valley of Flowers would cost you Rs 100 more, and the rates for shooting Films and Documentaries is on a per day basis.

A few steps into the park and you are welcomed by the sweet fragrance of vegetation, the path has small flowers blooming on both sides.

Aster Albescens on the 3 kms trek to Valley of Flowers

Aster Albescens, a white flower on the 3 kms trek to Valley of Flowers

White flower on the way to Phoolon ki Ghati

White flower on the way to the Valley

Pretty white flower

Pretty flower

About 10 minutes on our way in we came across two guys who were on their way out. We were extremely excited and asked them how was their experience. Both of them said it was a waste of time and energy as there were no flowers and told us it would be better to turn back. We were kind of discouraged by their response but decided to ask the next person who came along.

The next person who we asked just said “very nice, very nice,” and shook his head as though he couldn’t believe what his eyes had seen.

Caltha palustris or Kingcup

Caltha palustris or Kingcup

Pink flower in Uttaranchal

Pink flower in Uttaranchal

Purple Blossoms

Purple Blossoms

The trek just gets better as you move along, there’s life everywhere; the trees, the plants, insects, birds, unfortunately this time we didn’t get to see any butterflies.
Valley View

Valley View

Though the Valley is supposedly inhabited by a variety of butterflies, we came across quite a few butterflies on our walk back to Gobindghat from Ghangaria, at the end of our journey. We probably did not see any butterflies as they were still in the Caterpillar stage of their life cycle.
Caterpillar crawling on the leaf

Caterpillar crawling on the leaf

Pink flowers in Uttarakhand

Pink flowers

Alpine flowers in Uttaranchal

Alpine flowers in Uttaranchal

The path to the Valley of Flowers is surrounded by dense forest and diverse floral splendours, making the trek extremely scenic.
Pathway to Valley of Flowers

Scenic trek to Valley of Flowers

The trees on the way were quite fascinating, the tree below has no trunk, but living branches at the end of it.
Fascinating trees in Uttaranchal

Fascinating trees

The hole in this tree seemed quite intriguing, I took a picture of it by quickly putting my hand in and clicking, while hoping there was nothing inside.
Hole in a tree

The mysterious hole

Inside the trunk of a tree

To end the mystery, it was only a hollow trunk

We had to cross a tiny bridge to cross the river after little more than 1 km and the path after that is uphill, but not difficult. I guess the enthusiasm level was rising high, so nothing seemed a task.
Yellow flower with orange pollen sacs

Yellow flower with orange pollen sacs

Blue floral delights at valley of flowers

Blue floral delights at Valley of Flowers

We had to cross over one small and one fairly long glacier as compared to the one on the way to Ghangaria. We reached the second glacier after a while, its around one and a half kilometer walk from there to the Valley of Flowers. Probably if we had taken a guide, he would have been able to tell us the name of the glacier and other interesting details.
Glaciers make the trek more enjoyable

Glaciers make the trek more enjoyable

This glacier was really clean due to the lack of people and we had some space to ourselves. We had a good time frolicking in the snow, sliding and making snowballs. You have the river flowing on one side and the huge glacier on the other side. The view was simply stunning.

This was the first time I had come so close to snow in my life, Bhavika has before when she went to Kashmir during her school days. So both of us had a lovely time, she really got hit hard after she took this picture.

The effect of snow on Clyde

The effect of snow on Clyde

On the way we came across this tree that had these leafy structures, the moment I saw them, I thought of Alien spaceships coming at me together.
Alien spaceship like plants

Ready to take off, plants that look like alien spaceships

A short walk from the second glacier and we landed on a path that had cut rocks with a wide variety of rich textures that got me fascinated.
Different textured rocks

Different textured rocks

Waterfall on the way to the top

Trippy waterfall

Tiny purple flowers growing on the pathway

Tiny purple flowers growing on the pathway

“If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake – Aye, what then?” said Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a Poet, Critic and Philosopher. The Valley of Flowers was just like a beautiful dream.

History of the Valley of Flowers

Nestled in the upper reaches of Garhwal, Uttarakhand among snow-capped mountains and swarmed with over 500 species of flowers is paradise on earth. Literally speaking, Valley of Flowers is paradise on earth. Thanks to Frank S, Smith – mountaineer, explorer, botanist, who introduced this place to the world in 1931. He chanced upon this place after successfully scaling a peak in Garhwal, Kamet, which was 25,447 in height. While returning from his mission he took the western pass and lost his way and reached this valley. What a discovery it was. Its so difficult to imagine his reaction on seeing a valley filled with flowers, different colours and fragrances.

In 1937 he came back to the valley, and camped there for several weeks. He then authored a book called “The Valley of Flowers” in 1938, which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world. This place also has mythological significance. Legends associate this valley with area from where Hanumanji of Ramayana collected ‘Sanjeevani’ herb to revive Lakshman and this valley had also been known to the inhabitants as the Bhuyundar valley.

Trek route map of Valley of Flowers

Trek route map of Valley of Flowers

This park spread over an area of 87.5 km and is situated at a height of 3250 m. The Valley of Flowers was declared a national park in 1982.

The feeling of drinking water so pure that every sip you have it refreshes and tingles every sense of yours. how can we explain? Even if succeed in doing so, we will never be able to communicate in our words the magnificence of the Valley.

The mineral-rich mountain water

The mineral-rich mountain water

A stone path meanders among the flowers and across streams. We both were speechless for a long time, literally. All we did was shake our head with amazement and were completely awestruck.

Paradise on earth, we were standing on a mountain dotted with exotic flowers of various colours – green, white, yellow, blue and purple. In front of us ran the valley and behind us were the snow-capped mountains, with glaciers melting turning into waterfalls and the water trickling by in small streams that allow you to hear the water gurgling.

Valley of Flowers in June

Valley of Flowers or Phoolon ki Ghati

The other side of the valley had denser foliage with a small amount of leftover snow scattered in places. At the end of the valley are big black mountains with snow, you can see the greenery turning into barren brown, to black and white. Ying and Yang, Greenery and Barren land, Black and White, any color you like.
Zanskar range of the Himalayas

Zanskar range of the Himalayas

We sat there for a couple of hours on a rock in the middle of the vast expanse, and surrendered ourselves to the radiating beauty of the place. Fortunately, we had the full place to ourselves, so peaceful and tranquil. We looked in all directions and the view was mind-blowing, it felt great. Words are difficult to describe honestly the experience we had, and to witness it together just got us more closer.
Closer to Nature

Closer to Nature

Plants that roll into a ball

Plants that roll into a ball

We decided to move further ahead and explore the place. We came across a glacier (see below) and well, that stalled our plans to go any further. It looked a bit dicey as we spotted few cracks on the it, so we decided not to take the risk.
Glacier blocking the path

Glacier blocking the path to move ahead in Valley in Flowers

We were really keen to see the grave of Ms Margaret Legge, a botanist deputed by the botanical gardens of Edinburgh to conduct further studies at The Valley of Flowers in 1939. While she was traversing some rocky slopes to collect flowers, she had a fatal slip and lost her life in the valley. Her sister later visited the Valley of Flowers and erected a memorial on the spot where she was buried by the locals. The thoughtful memorial is still there and the following words are inscribed on the stone -
“I will lift mine eyes
unto the Hills
from whence cometh my strength”

We decided that the next time we come here, we would definitely visit her memorial, which is at the far end.

Cave like structure at Valley of Flowers

Cave like structure at Valley of Flowers

As we wandered around the place, we found a bed of hay under two massive rocks that can be seen in the images below. It looked like some human activity took place at the spot, chopped logs and traces of fire. I concluded that the place must be used by a baba or someone who meditates there. What a wonderful place to connect with yourself.
Massive rocks

Massive rocks

So after spending a good one and half hours on the Valley we decided to leave. It was getting overcast and murky, and we also had to cross the glacier, which gets slippery in the rains, so with a heavy heart we headed back. I was keen on coming back the next day, but due to time constraints we couldn’t. Nevertheless we were a happy, satisfied bunch.
Another glacier to cross

Another glacier to cross

The above picture is taken while we are walking towards the glacier on our way back to Ghangaria, while the one below is when we are on the middle of the glacier focused towards the starting point of it.
Huge glacier

Standing in the center of the huge glacier

The picture below is of one side of the Valley, the beautiful blue sky, the massive mountains with iced peaks and the blanket of clouds covering parts of it, sigh!!! wish, we were still there.
Clouds covering the snow-capped mountains in Garhwal region

Clouds covering the snow-capped mountains

Snow-capped mountains surrounding the Valley of Flowers

Snow-capped mountains surrounding the Valley of Flowers

As the sun sets on this heavenly abode, few flowers close at dusk to blossom again on a new day!
Macro shot of a yellow flower

Macro shot of a yellow flower

A small birdie admiring the view from a tree branch.
Bird sitting on a branch

Bird sitting on a branch

Fractals can be so easily seen in nature in the tree below, it feels so nice to recognize patterns in nature.
Fractals in nature

Fractals in nature

We reached our hotels with fond memories and our camera with some of the best pictures we’ve taken till date. We were starving, so went to Himalaya for a sumptuous Punjabi meal.
Punjabi food in Ghangaria

Sumptuous Punjabi meal in Ghangaria

We came back to the room and browsed through the pictures. Oh, what a day it was, definitely the best day of our lives!

Next day we set off to Hemkund Sahib.

June 20th Expenses

Breakfast (Aloo Parathas + 4 Teas): Rs 100
Bread & Potato Onion Pakodas + Samosas: Rs 75
Valley of Flowers: Rs 100
Chaat: Rs 10
Gulab Jamuns: Rs 20 (2 Plates)
2 Soups: Rs 70
Dinner: Rs 135.

Previous Posts on this Trip:

The Valley of Gods

Trek to Ghangaria

Resources:

Guide to the Valley of Flowers (This is what helped us)

About The Valley of Flowers

The Valley of Flowers on Wiki


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A nature-loving, spiritual being and co-founder of Fractal Enlightenment, who thrives to help fellow beings re-connect with nature and their inner selves. Thank you for being part of this journey.

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Comments

valuemart says:

great pictures
superb .

Hiit was really nice reading all your experience…very nice pics…I am so tempted to leave right now…Is it possible to arrange a trip in this month…everywhere I read its mentioned as July onwards as favourable time to visit…kindly help me out with this?

shashank says:

i am just about to leave of Valley of Flower..found it really very helpfulthanks :)

Rohit says:

Hi, Your article refreshed my memories of oF . I visited Vof long time ago. I wasn’t so lucky at that time because a glacier stooped our way into Vof. Hearty thanks for so live article and the breathtaking Pic.

Anonymous says:

we just came back from a bike trip to badrinath, hemkund saheb n valley of flowers…enjoyed a lot…valley of flower was a bit disappoing cause weather was pretty bad…it was continously raining an mist was way too dense or i should say clouds were way too dense…we trekked 3 km in to the valley n could spot only a few flowers n it was chilly out there and a couple of friends were having problem in breathing due to lack of oxygen or was it because of their habit of smoking..??? Anyway i would love to visit the valley once again n explore it fully…:-)

Kamal says:

Hi,guys.The most interesting i found is the way you presented it.t seems i am feeling the same passion that you might have felt while travelling. I am planning to go this august.I will be travelling alone(Single as no one is ready to follow me in frinds or family).What do you suggest?

Hi,I’d like to compliment you guys on the wonderful article. An enchanting narrative interspersed with captivating photos – together it truly paints a memorable picture of your experiences!Great Stuff!

ankur says:

Hi , Awesome snaps , I had gone trekking to the VoF in 1996 , and from your post it still looks unspoilt, guess the only difference is the Cameras you get these days hence the snaps and the government has made some effort in educating ppl by the borad put up , when i had gone , there was no bridge to cross the stream to get into the VoF.Great snaps , reminds me of my trek, cheers buddy

WOW ! Fantastic … Excellanto Amigo !:)

jayant says:

Hi clyde,I dont know what to say. ..but it was ecstatic. it brings back my memories with my ex gf..Thanks Jay

diva says:

again, a good post, and good pictures, in august there were no wild strawberries i am happy that you found them,but there were red potentials,forget me not s,[which,as i can see were there when you went] and many many others. not this much of snow though. that hole in the trunk of that tree, lol a person can go inside and sit and it’s fun. thank you!

kumkum says:

Hi guys! Thanks for the info. We were planning to stay at Joshimath but now I guess we willopt for Pandukeshwar. Will pass on your message:-) thanks a ton:-)

Anonymous says:

Amazing and full of practical info for us. We are planning to go may be this year.Thanks for the sharing.

Dr. Ankur Batra says:

Hi
it was really nice reading all your experience…very nice pics…

I am so tempted to leave right now…
Is it possible to arrange a trip in this month…everywhere I read its mentioned as July onwards as favourable time to visit…
kindly help me out with this?

Ankur

Mary says:

Valley of flowers is a beautiful place, definitely would like to visit some day!

kumkum says:

Hi Bhavika and Clyde, Very nice post. My husband and me are going to VoF in August and need some info on the place/route from veterans like you two. Would be glad if either of you can answer some queries. 1) Will it be possible to reach Govindghat from Hardwar in one day? 2) Are there plenty of hotels at Ghangharia? Cheers, KumKum

Thanks KumKum for taking the time to post the comment here. Yes you can reach Govindghat from Haridwar in one day, but its a long journey. I suggest you take an early morning bus from Haridwar like 7ish, then you shud reach govindghat by 5-6 in the evening, but instead of spending the night at Govindghat, stay at Pandukeshwar, a village just 1.5 km away from govindghat, coz the hotels/lodges are generally full in govindghat and its a very crowded place too. You can stay in Pandukeshwar at Hare Krishna guest house, thats where we stayed, amazing hospitality and the owner’s name is Prem Bhatt, nice gentleman, when we dint get a room at govindghat, he helped us out and gave his own room to stay in. Its a nice hamlet, his number is – 01381-225260, 9411508099. nice rooms also he has. If you decide to stay there, do give our regards to him, a couple from mumbai who had stayed in his room:) There are plenty of lodges/guest houses in Ghangaria, just go there and you will find some place or th ghae other. but try and begin your trek from govindghat to ghangaria early…as many pilgrims also stay there…earlier u reach the better chance of getting a room in ghangaria. There is GMVN, where we stayed – you can see their contact details here -http://www.gmvnl.com/newgmvn/online_reservation/Feel free to write in case you want more information on anything….and hav a great trip!

Nupur says:

Hi I was planning to visit vlley of flowers in July. Wanted to know some places to stay at Ghangharia with contacts. Thanks Nupur

Malvika says:

Hi Guys,Just wanted to say thanks for posting all this information. We are planning a trip there too ….and just so excited. Thanks,Malvika

Avatar of Bhavika Bhavika says:

You’re welcome Malvika, it a place worth visiting again n again…and still you would feel you’ve not seen enough.:)When do you plan to go?

Anjali says:

hey guys…i had just stumbled upon your blog few months back when i was searching for some info on the valley of flowers..and reading this was like actually going to the place and experiencing it myself….u have catured the whole essence of the valley and the trek so beauitfully…i went for the trek with yuvashakti in aug..and it was like being there the second time…everything u wrote along with the pics was imprinted in my mind…and the valley was as heavenly as I had expected it to be….great work u 2 r doin..keep it up

Avatar of Bhavika Bhavika says:

Anjali,Thank you so much for your kind words :) I do hope a lot more people end up going to the valley of flowers but keep it as clean as it is now.Peace and Love…

Marenda MAGNETIC says:

what an adventure I am so curious to learn more about “Aloo Parathas, Pakodas, and Samosas.” These photos are amazing!

Avatar of Bhavika Bhavika says:

Thanks Marenda. It was a wonderful trip indeed! You need to visit the place to see and experience Mother nature at its best.Cheers

lalith says:

hai,It was great on to see those beautiful pictures,i feel u people are most luckiest to visit those great places.Iam very much interested in Trekking Himalayas,can u tell me the information about troops travelling to uttaranchal for trekkking so that i can join them.Plz send me the information to my mail id : lalith.81@rediffmail.com…bye

Avatar of Bhavika Bhavika says:

Hi Lalith,Thanks a ton for your kind feedback…Valley of Flowers will always hold a special place in our heart, the most beautiful place on this earth:) and am glad that we got a chance to visit such a place.I don’t know of any troops traveling to the Himalayas, but there are travel companies who conduct such treks. We went on our own there…which is good fun:) Here’s a contact number of a tour guide in the base camp for Valley of Flowers. You can get in touch with him, he can guide u around the place….nice guy.Rajnish -HIM TREKP.O Bhyundar,Distt Chamoli – 246433 (UK)India01381-2262180139-222060Hope this was of help to you…cheers,

poonam says:

fats…my precious (Lord of the ring ishtyle)…these are some of the most amazing pictures that i have ever laid my eyes upon… divine is the word…no exaggeration…i need all the trip details… fortunately ur just a flight of stairs away ;0)That doesn’t mean you take me for granted…please respond to my comment with some kind words like you have for the other bloggers…love your blog…a big thumbs up to you and Bhavika..great going..Love:Poonam

Avatar of Bhavika Bhavika says:

Hey Poonam, I am so Glad you discovered the blog :) Its my most favorite hobby :) Haha :) Kind words are all I have for everyone, you especially since we have been buddies from the time we were born :) Cheers and all the best to you in life!

Avatar of Bhavika Bhavika says:

hi clyde and bhavika,your blog has been a great introduction to a trip my family is making to the valley of the flowers this september. we are traveling from washington, dc and this will be my first trek. thank you for the helpful tips and the lovely pictures!best,priya

Avatar of Bhavika Bhavika says:

McGun, thanks a lot, I see you have been doing a lot of photography urself. Most of the new pictures are amazing :) PurpleBear, I am glad you made the time to post a comment on the blog. Thank you for the kind words as well.Priya, I am glad that we helped you and your family plan their trip. You have chosen the right time frame to visit the valley as all the flowers will be in bloom. If you take pictures, do consider sending us one of the valley in full bloom. We plan on going there next august again!!!!!

purplebear says:

Wow..really beautiful scenery and great photographs. Definitely in the trip of a lifetime category. Really, really beautiful:)

McGun says:

Awesome snaps Clyde, looks like you are an all-india tour :) Way 2 go!McGun