Valley of Flowers - Fairyland that blooms for a brief period in the Himalayas
The valley lie covered with snow much of the winter. During summer though, as the snow melts, the river Pushpawati flows through the valley fed by the glacier dissecting the mountain. The monsoon clouds, rain and summer break provide the ideal conditions for millions of dormant seeds to spring back to life blooming in the valley. The various shades of pink, white, green and yellow, paint the valley for few months from July-September. The region surrounding this valley and the parallel Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara, a sikh pilgrimage place, form the important habitats for wild flora of this alpine region. After the monsoons, by October, the valley turns into the green meadow with most of the flora disappearing. It prepares itself for the long winter and impending snow.
Reaching the valley is not easy as one has to trek from the nearest road that ends at Gobindghat. The place lies on the way to the Badrinath, a very sacred pilgrimage place for Hindus, well connected by the roads to Dehradun and Haridwar, some 280km away. The distance through the hills are always deceptive. Though 280 sounds not much, it takes 12-14 hours of backbreaking road journey in state transport buses or shared taxis going up the mountain's serpentine roads skirting deep valleys on one side and rolling stones and landslides on the other. Gobindghat is a small village lying at the confluence of the river Alaknanda coming from Badrinath with its tributary river Laxman Ganga flowing from the Ghangariya closer to Valley of Flowers.
After making Ghangariya the base, the Valley (3650m) can be visited from here that is 4km uphill climb after paying the necessary entry fees at the forest check post. As the valley does not have any staying or food options, one has to start early in the morning and return by 5pm from the valley. After crossing the Pushpawati river near to the entrance of the valley, the steep hike of about 2km takes one to the carpeted meadows that are criss-crossed by various streams that flow down the slopes of the hills meeting the Pushpawati river below. The make shift wooden bridges and shallow waters are easy to cross if one stays on the marked trail within the valley. After about 1 km of walk on the much relaxed plateau soaking in the great views of faraway glacier, the river flowing in the valley, the tree cover giving way to the carpeted meadows, one can see the beautiful colors of red, pink, white, yellow complimenting the greens.
Some of the Flowers : Cobra Lily, Blue Poppy, Brahma-Kamal, Ligusticopsis wallichiana, Geranium wallichianum, Himalayan cinquefoil, large bellflower, Roundleaf Bellflower, Bladder campion, Saussurea auriculata, Mountain Angelica, Impatiens sulcata, Himalayan knotweed, Senecio laetus, Himalayan rhubarb, Himalayan Mini Sunflower, Rose Carpet Knotweed, Stem Clasping Ligularia, Morina longifolia, Himalayan Rattlesnake Root, Himalayan Rose, Himalayan Teasel.