The Valley of Flowers, located in Uttrakhand and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, came into my life much before I visited it. As a child, I had often dreamt of living a childhood out of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi, and waking up in the Alps everyday with fresh milk and cheese from the poultry in the backyard. The name, Valley of Flowers, elicited the same feeling.
Years later, I made a trip to that surreal paradise, and am ready to zoom out of my psychedelic bubble and give you the hard facts, the impact of which will be cushioned with alpine flowers and meadows! Choose the Valley of Flowers as your summer destination, if:
Off-beat turns you on
If you are a lover of unique experiences and are vary of the hills because come summer, popular hill stations have more people than trees, then Valley of Flowers is the place to be. The experience of getting to the valley is mildly strenuous and the sight of the valley guarantees a major adrenalin rush. The accommodation on the way is mostly basic and this too keeps the noisy tourists at bay.
You are yet to see the Himalayas in all their glory
For travellers in the north, the Himalayas are only an overnight journey away. But people like me, who live in the south or the west are closer to the Nilgiris or the Western Ghats. I have nothing against the hilly landscapes in the rest of the country. But believe me, these are mere slopes compared to the grandeur of the Himalayas. The Valley of Flowers borders China and Nepal, is situated 3352 to 3658 meters above sea level, and sits pretty between the ranges of the Zanskar and the Greater Himalayas. As a result, the breath-taking, gentle beauty of almost 300 species of exotic flowers overlook the mighty and rugged Zanskar in the north and the Greater Himalyas in the south. A beautiful grassland experience with a mountainous view.
You live for stories
If you are a person who loves to come back from trips with stories to tell and reminisce for years, then this trip is a fool proof plan to amass the quirkiest stories. The local bus at Badrinath is called Bhook hartal (Hunger Strike), named after the villagers who went on a hunger strike in protest of poor transport in the region. The authorities introduced this bus but there was a catch – the bus has no definite time of arrival. We met a corn maker who used kinetic energy to roast the corn instead of coal. And a village auto driver who chased us down because we were sick of waiting from him, and decided to flag down an oncoming local bus. So the locals were running after us, we wobbling and running with our backpacks behind the bus, and bus conductor egging us to run faster!
You want to witness pristine beauty
As you enter the valley from Ghangagria you encounter a V-shaped intersection of two peaks drenched in mist and cloud. As you get closer to the valley, you encounter pebbles, boulders, cobbled paths, small streams, rickety bridges and lush greenery all round. As you get used to the diverse surroundings, you’ll meet an open skyline bordered with mountains, glaciers and wide grasslands laden with flowers. For as far as you can look, you will see the valley spread, and intersect tiny glaciers and meadows peppered with different colours. It is this element of surprise, grandeur and gentleness that will make fall you in love with everything and everyone around you.
You are a budget traveller
If you are a budget traveller who relishes calculating money saved at the end of the trip and pushing your limits of adventure, then the Valley of Flowers will conspire to let you live the tough life. We covered the total distance of 523 kms from Delhi to the Valley of Flowers through the cheapest modes of transport and accommodations.
How to reach the Valley of Flowers from Delhi, on a budget:
Delhi – Haridwar: Overnight train journey from Dehradun Jan Shatabdi so that we could save on stay and not waste a day. You can also book bus tickets online from Delhi to Haridwar.
Haridwar – Rishikesh : We took a shared auto to Rishikesh from where we needed to catch a bus to Joshimath
Rishikesh – Joshimath : We took a rickety old village bus filled with locals and backpacking Israelis. This 11 hour journey was back breaking and through bad roads and sharp bends with the Ganges on one side and the mountains on the other.
Joshimath – We stopped at Joshimath for the night at a GMVL guest house after hunting for the cheapest accommodation.
Joshimath – Govindghat : After a good night’s sleep, we took a jeep to Govindghat, located at the confluence of the Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga rivers. This is a straight trek to the Valley of Flowers; yes, we are just getting started!
Govindghat – Ghangaria : A 13 km trek through sleepy mountain villages with the Pushpawati river for company. This stretch is mostly uphill and you can get ready for your feet to groan for the next 7 hours of the trek.
Ghangaria: Welcome, rest your heels at very limited staying options here. We got a deal of Rs. 100 per night for a room with three beds.
Is the Valley of Flowers on your summer wishlist?
This was a guest post written by Mansi on Travel Yaari