Valley of Flowers is one trek where many people begin their journey of trekking in the Himalayas. And why not? It is one of those rare natural botanical gardens in India. Flowers bloom everywhere in a riot of colours. On one side of the flower-decked valley tall cliffs climb to the sky. The other side is guarded by snow-clad mountains. A serene river glides through the middle of the valley. If there is a picturesque setting that is perfect, then this must be it.
Don’t discount the exhilarating climb to Hemkund Sahib – an alpine lake at 14,300 ft. That such a large clear water lake can be present at this altitude is hard to fathom! Of course, the langar (meal) at the Gurudwara is to die for!
The Valley of Flowers trek manages to show you a glimpse of the joys of Himalayan trekking in just about four days. Once you finish this trek, it doesn’t come as a surprise when you find yourself planning your next big Himalayan adventure.
On a very practical note, to see the valley in its floral splendour, you need to time your trek correctly. July and August, during monsoon, is the best time to do the trek.”
Day 1: Getting to base camp, Govind Ghat
Haridwar is the starting location for the event from where we will head towards Govind Ghat, the base camp for this trek. We will travel along River Alakananda on the Badrinath highway throughout the day. The roads are dangerously cut on mountains edges and at times, you only see the river flowing in the gorge deep below.
Devprayag: Devprayag is a town and a nagar panchayat in Tehri Garhwal district in the state of Uttarakhand, India, and is one of the Panch Prayag of Alaknanda River where Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers meet and take the name Ganga. We will be taking a dip at the origin of river Ganga and have breakfast from there. Devprayag is around 120 kms (3-4 hrs) from Haridwar.
Day 2: Govind Ghat to Ghangria via Poolna
- Altitude: 6,300 ft (1,920 m) to 9,600 ft (2,926 m) via 7,200 ft (2,195 m)
- Trek gradient: Easy – moderate. Gradual ascent on a well- defined trail.
- Time taken: 4 km drive to Poolna based on availability of vehicles and road condition. 5-6 hours trek, 9 km.
The trail is well-defined. It is usually full of Sikh pilgrims walking up and down. Notice the cleanliness on the trail despite hundreds treading upon it every day. It’s a heartening and motivating sight. All thanks to volunteers who sweep the trail every day. The trek takes 5-6 hours and you approach a tabular land. This is when you know you are close to Ghangria.
Day 3: Ghangria to Valley of Flowers and back
- Altitude: 9,600 ft (2,195 m) to 11,500 ft (3,505 m) and back
- Time taken: 6-7 hours, 3.7 km each way
- Trek gradient: Easy. Flat walk in the valley
Leave Ghangria early (6.00 am) to give yourself the whole day to spend at Valley of Flowers. The trail splits in less than a kilometre. There is a gate to buy entry tickets to the valley. Walk inside and notice the small flowering plants springing up on either side.
The valley is really a botanists’ dreamland! One can find flowers, leaves, buds of various shapes, sizes, colours, all growing together. Notice various types of bees and insects hovering on these strange flowers. Walk further into the valley and you will be engulfed with an amazing scent, which unfortunately cannot be captured but can only be felt. The valley stretches 5-7 km further, until it ends with a glacier visible at a distance. The stream flows all the way through the valley. Take off your shoes and dip your feet into it to experience the icy cold water. Prominent flowers that you will see in July-August include Meadow Geranium, Snake Foil, Hooked Stick Seed, Himalayan Rose, Blue Poppy, River Anemone, White Leaf Hog Foot and Dog Flower.
Carry packed lunch from Ghangria on the Valley of Flowers trek day. There is no food available in the valley. Overnight camping isn’t allowed either. Plan your return along the same path by early afternoon. The afternoon sun falling on the valley from a different direction, gives a whole new perspective to the same place you saw in the morning.
Day 4: Ghangria to Hemkund Sahib and back
- Altitude: 9,600 ft (2,926 m) to 14,107 ft (4,300 m) and back
- Time taken: 9-10 hours, 6 km each way
- Trek gradient: Moderate – difficult. Steep ascent for about 4 hours to reach Hemkund Sahib and steep descent all the way back.
Get up and grab a hot drink of chai. A poncho (light rain coat) and a trekking pole can be handy on the trek to Hemkund. Pass the deviation to Valley of flowers. Continue to trek up the steep path slowly but steadily. Spot a pretty water fall on your right falling through the rock walls on the right.
After about 2 hours of walking, you are higher than the tree line and the views begin to get better. Mark the route to Valley of Flowers on the mountain in front across the river gorge. After another hour of slow walking with numerous breaks, you begin to feel reduced oxygen levels in the air. A melting glacier lies on the way.
An hour of stiff climbing brings you to Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara. The lake lies just behind it. The Hemkund Sahib lake remains frozen for six months. Warm yourself in the Gurudwara and have generous helpings of hot tea and khichdi. Walk around to the other side of the Hemkund Lake. It exudes an aura of peace and serenity. It’s crystal clear, undisturbed and reflects mountains the mountains surrounding it. The lake and the Gurudwara in this setting are a sight to watch. Around Hemkund, the Himalayan flower, Brahma Kamal grows abundantly. This flower grows only at heights of 10,000 ft to 15,000 ft.
Day 5: Ghangria to Govind Ghat via Poolna
- Altitude: 9,600 ft (2926 m) to 6,300 ft (1,920 m) via 7,200 ft (2,195 m)
- Time taken: 4 hours, 9 km + 4 km drive
- Trek gradient: Easy descent to Poolna on the same trail that you trekked on earlier.
The trail back to Poolna is on the same path that you took on Day 1. Drive from Poolna to Govind Ghat. Start early and reach Govind Ghat by 12.00 pm. We have full day to ourselves at Govindghat and will go to Badrinath and Mana, last village of India as per the group preference. Badrinath is an hour away from Govindghat, while Mana is 4kms away from Badrinath.
We will reach back Govind Ghat by evening and spend the night there.
Day 6: Govind Ghat to Rishikesh/Haridwar
Drive down to Rishikesh/Haridwar through the Badrinath highway. This will be the end of trip.
How to reach Haridwar from Hyderabad?
Event Start Date: 28th July, Sunday. If traveling via flight, you can either leave on Friday evening or Saturday. If traveling via train, you will need to leave Friday morning to reach on time.
- Fly from Hyderabad to Dehradun, take a cab/bus from Dehradun to Haridwar (around 50 kms) – Flight costs will be around 8k round trip if booked 2 months in advance, 6k if booked 4 months in advance. Private Taxi from Dehradun to Haridwar will cost 1000/- and bus tickets costs less than 100/- for one side.
- Fly from Hyderabad to Delhi, take an overnight train/bus to Haridwar – Flight costs will be around 6k round trip if booked 2 months in advance, 4.5k if booked 4 months in advance. Sleeper class train tickets from Delhi to Haridwar cost around 300/- while sleeper bus costs around 750/- for one side.
- Train from Hyderabad to Delhi, take an overnight train/bus to Haridwar – Sleeper class train tickets costs around 800/- one side from hyderabad to delhi with total duration of 28hrs for one train. Sleeper class train tickets from Delhi to Haridwar cost around 300/- while sleeper bus costs around 750/- for one side.