VALLEY OF FLOWERS TREK

Everything you Need to Know Before You Visit!

Overview

Valley of flowers trek intro

The Valley of Flowers, a nature’s delight, reflects an abundance of eternal mountainous flora and fauna soaring in the crevasses of the Himalayas. The Valley of Flowers settled in the upper Bhyundar Valley in Chamoli province of Uttarakhand, India is a standout amongst the best-kept privileges of nature. Situated at an altitude of 3,658 meters above sea level, the mesmerizing Valley lies in the West Himalayas of Uttarakhand. It’s an outstanding place that is known for unlimited rivulets, rich glades adorned with endangered Himalayan fauna, endemic alpine flora and cascading waterfalls. Valley of Flowers luxuriously spreads over 87.50 square km of verdant glacial corridor land, estimating 8 km in length and 2 km in width.

The mere glimpse of this fairyland fills every minute pores of the body with the sensations as if entering the gates of eternity. It is a blissful land of unending bugyals (meadows) with inconceivable snow-capped crests bearing frigid icy masses that gush into streams, and a background of enchanting solitude filled with rejuvenating breeze and melodious chirping of birds. Flowers envelope the whole valley and the leaves gives the shape of a permeable canopy. Surrounded by forests, Valley of flowers is home to spectacular natural scenery, endangered animals and indigenous mountainous flowers. The abundant variety of species in the valley is due to its unique location within a transition zone between the Great Himalayas and Zanskar ranges to the south and north, respectively, and between the Eastern and Western Himalayas.

The Valley of Flowers known for its bugyals (meadows) of native alpine flowers, densely rich wildlife and a variety of flora falls in the category of National Park in India. Nestled in the West Himalayas of the Uttarakhand state of India this exotic landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is part of the rocky mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve.

It was only in the year 1982, the smallest National Park in the Western Himalayas was created to protect the drainage basin of the Pushpawati River. This river becomes visible coming out from a glacier and then in an untamed manner rapids downward to ultimately get merged with the Alaknanda. It brilliantly pursues the curves and steep forms of the valley which leads to Hemkund Lake. At Ghangaria it meets Hem Ganga which is the perpetual escort of the pilgrims who trek upwards on the foot upto  the sacred Shri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara. At Ghangaria both Pushpawati and Hem Ganga meet and form Lakshman Ganga.

Valley of Flowers a magical dream-land snuggled high in the Himalayas of the Uttarakhand, at an altitude of 3,658 meters, protected by snow crest peaks is a Nature’s Bounty. For ages unknown this captivating and bewitching valley lied mysteriously undisclosed and hidden from masses. Oblivious of the time and population this enthralling unveiled valley incessantly rested ice smitten during the colder months, and exploded into its fresh, alluring and charming vibrant looks as the snow showed mercy and defrosted with the onset of short summer season. During this short duration the valley got overlayed and splattered with patches of contrasting colours and textures with the blossoming of numerous varieties of flowers. This perfectly timed cycle went on secretly without any admiration until the day, nature ultimately deemed it fit and appropriate to bestow humans with this divine celestial  glimpse, and that is the time when Frank Smythe fortuitously discovered this fairy land. Frank Smythe was an explorer, mountaineer and a seeker. He along with his companions was descending after successful expedition of Mt. Kamet when by a twist of fate forgot his way and chanced upon this alluring valley in the monsoon season of year 1931.  After this he visited this dreamland again in 1935. In 1937 he explored it again and in this trip he accumulated and compiled innumerable herbs and flowers. On his return in 1938 he penned a book titled “The Valley of Flowers” which unveiled the lustre, floral richness and magnificence of the valley to the masses. Henceforward, the Valley of flowers came into limelight and attracted the recognition from both national and international community. In the year 1982 Valley of Flowers was declared a National Park of India. It was made second core part of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, and consequently declared World Heritage Site on July 14, 2005 by UNESCO. Frank Smythe, in his famous book “The Valley Of Flowers”, describes this valley as, “Others will visit it, analyse it and probe it, but whatever their opinions, to me it will remain a Valley of Flowers, a valley of peace and perfect beauty where the human spirit may find repose.”

Itinerary for the Valley of Flowers 

THIS IS SUGGESTED ITINERARY THAT IS DESIGNED TO GIVE YOU A BREIF IDEA ABOUT YOUR TRIP

Day 01: Rishikesh-Joshimath (250 Kms)

Valley of flowers trek day1

Leave for Joshimath early in the morning, after breakfast. The earlier you leave, the better it is. The road up to Joshimath is the same that goes way ahead up to Badrinath Temple. So you will be traversing by National Highway7 (NH-7). The whole way is alongside the river Alaknanda. In between the route there are beautiful and famous places namely, Shivpuri(well known for river rafting and other adventure activities), Devprayag (one of the 5 Prayags/ confluence place in Uttarakhand – it is last and 5th Prayag. Here Alaknanda river-originating from 50 km north of Nanda Devi peak and Bhagirathi river-rising from Gaumukh Gangotri glaciers, meet and form the Ganges. Alaknanda and Bhagirathi are two of the 5 prominent headstreams of Ganges arising from the southern Great Himalayas, others being Mandakini, Dhauliganga and Pindar river), Kirti Nagar, Srinagar(major city and capital of Pauri Garhwal district), Rudraprayag(the 4th prayag, confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini river. Mandakini river originates from Chorabari glacier and is fed by Vasukiganaga river at Sonprayag.),  Gauchar, Karan Prayag(3rd Prayag and confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar river. Pindari glacier is the origin place of Pindar river), Nandaprayag (2nd Prayag, confluence of Alaknanda and Nandakini river. Nandakini rises from NandaGhunti below Nanda Devi Sanctuary.) , Gopeshwar, Pipalkoti and VriddhBadri temple(old Badrinath Temple) Lunch enroute Rudraprayag. Overnight stay at Joshimath.
Joshimath is the abode of Sri Badrinathji during winters. Joshimath also known as JyotirMath is one of the ‘maths’ (a  matha मठ or mutt is a Sanskrit word which refers to a monastery in Hinduism based on the concept of Advait Vedanta. The math/mutt lodges and feed spiritual students, gurus, monks, renouncers, ascetics and are led by Masters-Acharyas) established by Adi guru Shankaracharya. He established 4 mutts/Mathas/peethas, in correlation to the 4 Vedas, in the four corners of India The other three are: Govardhana mutt ( Rigveda)- in Odisha, India. Sharada Peetham (YajurVeda)- in Karnataka, India. Dwaraka Peetham ( Samveda)- in Gujarat, India.

Day 02 : Joshimath-Gobindghat-Ghangaria (23 Kms drive + 14 kms trek)

Valley of flowers trek day 2

After an early breakfast, leave for Gobindghat. At Joshimath market a bifurcation leads to the Auli ropeway entrance. Last ATM point is available only at Joshimath. Enroute to Gobindghat comes Vishnu Prayag (the 1st prayag, here the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers meet). After reaching Gobindghat trek14 kms to Ghangaria and have an overnight stay there.
Gobindghat is the conflux of Alaknanda and Laxman Ganga Rivers. Ghangaria is the base camp for treks to Valley of Flowers and Shri Hemkund Sahib. Here lodging and boarding facilities are available. Pushpawati and Hem Ganga rivers meet here to form Lakshman Ganga.

Day 03: Ghangaria Valley of flowers – Ghangaria (8 km trek + 5-6 km trail inside valley of flowers)

Valley of flowers trek Day 3

After breakfast, leave for Valley of flowers with packed lunch. Return back to Ghangaria and have an overnight stay here. Next morning depending on your itinerary either return back to Gobindghat or trek towards Shri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara/ Hemkund Lake. 
Hemkund Lake is a beautiful pristine lake at an astounding altitude of 4,329 m, and has a magnificent and strikingly impressive sacred Gurudwara named after Guru Gobind Singh. Shri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara surrounded by the mighty snow bound Saptshringar peaks, is the most sought-after pilgrimage in mountains for sikh community.

Day 04 : Ghangaria-Hemkund (5 Kms steep climb)

After breakfast, leave for Shri Hemkund Sahib. Return back to Ghangaria.

Valley of flowers trek day 4

Day 05 : Ghangria-Gobindghat-Joshimath (14 km downhill trek + 1 hr drive)

Start after breakfast trek downwards to Gobindghat. Lunch on the way and take a shared cab/jeep to Joshimath. Overnight stay at Joshimath. If required, then this day 5 trek can be completed on day 4 itself depending on strength and disposal of time at hand.

Day 06: Joshimath – Rishikesh (250 kms) 

Early morning leave for Rishikesh by shared taxi or local UTC bus. Overnight stay at Rishikesh.

Brief on Valley of Flowers

It is among the most visited places in Uttarakhand. The treasured Valley nurtures several rare and endemic species of flora and fauna indigenous to the valley, exotic plants, a plethora of indigenous medicinal plants that are either rare or threatened, rare and endangered animals, birds and insect species, thus attracting many wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, shutterbugs, avid travellers and researchers to explore the much desired land. It exhibits a wide-ranging myriad landscape, ranging from low-lying flat slopes to steep slopes, shaky glacial moraines, stream banks, forest meadow edges and snow bound areas. This unique geo-morphological assortment has resulted in a rich biodiversity of flowering plants, tempting a number of botanists and tourists across the globe to visit this cherished corsage.

The Valley is covered with wildflowers during the monsoon season. Of the many species which coexist in this special ecosystem, the most popular among visitors are the celebrated flowers like the Brahma Kamal, the Himalayan Blue Poppy, Clematis Vine and the Cobra Lily.

The Valley of Flowers is a 4 km ascend from Ghangaria. The trail passes through forests, meadows, rivers and an avalanche slope before the vast expanse of the Valley opens up before visitors. The Valley itself is 6-7 kms long and ends with a glacier. The trek starts by crossing a bridge across Lakshman Ganga, visible from Ghangaria. After the bridge, the path to the Valley of Flowers branches off from the main path to Hemkunt Sahib – the straight one goes to Hemkund and the left one leads to the Valley of Flowers. Mules can be hired right up to Hemkund but inside the valley no mules are allowed. After taking on the left side trail soon a forest office check post is encountered, where entry pass for the National Park area is issued by a forest wildlife guard after filling the details in the register and paying a fee. The permit is only valid for 3 days and traversing inside valley is only allowed during the day time (6 am to 6 pm). After passing the forest check post the path goes down and there you find an iron bridge over Pushpawati river. The river flows down with a gushing sound and meets Lakshman Ganga at Ghangaria. The flowers start appearing right from here, especially Himalayan Blue poppy. After the bridge, the path is narrow and in a spiral way keeps inclining to greater heights. Only companion of yours during this trail is the cool breeze full of fragrance and oxygen with melodious birdsong acting as a soothing background music..

After a little passage of time comes a glacier which, for sure, is not frozen after the valley opens for visitors. There is a huge boulder, which has to be climbed over. The clear glacial stream water full of minerals is completely safe to drink. The water bottles can be refilled here. Just after this comes the place from where you get the first opportunity to have a bewitching view of the vastly enthralling Valley of Flowers. By looking at the sprawling meadows of enchanting flowers it appears as if somebody is maintaining a huge diverse flower farm. Himalayan Balsam and the white flat topped flower Himalayan Hogweed are the dominant flowers of the valley. Hailed as the most charming flower, Himalayan Whorl (Morina longifolia, upto 1m tall and changes colors from white to pale pink and then rosy red after fertilization) is extravagantly laid in the valley. If you bend low and gaze you would be welcomed by the white woolly flowers carpeting a vast expanse. This is Himalayan Edelweiss, a close cousin of the famous Edelweiss. A symbol of Alps, Edelweiss, grows in inaccessible high altitude mountainous regions of Europe, South America. This flower represents mountaineering in Slovenia and is also a symbol of purity and beauty in Switzerland. 

Valley of flowers trek brief

Rock hugging tiny purple Himalayan Thyme along with many other vividly coloured tiny flower species is a treat to the eyes and proves small is beautiful. Valley is sprawled with lots of tiny and very small flowers which prefer to grow inside crevices, on small gaps between stones on tracks and on rocks, rather than growing in soil. This peculiar behaviour, is in fact a smart survival strategy. Little soil gets accumulated in rock cervices and the seeds of these tiny plants safely germinate inside such spaces which are of no use to the big overbearing plants. Otherwise, in normal soil, these tiny plants would get stashed out by larger and aggressively growing plants and thus become extinct. The more you view, the more you see, and in the valley it seems to be an endless viewing. Valley itself is spread 5-6 KMs and to explore the valley thoroughly in one day is really inadequate and unsatisfactory. As you progress along the trail inside the valley you come across a signboard indicating the way to the tombstone of Mary Legge – an enthusiastic botanist and explorer. In 1939, Miss Margarate Legge, a botanist appointed by the Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh arrived at the valley for further studies. While she was walking by some rocky slopes to collect flowers, she had a fatal slip and lost her life. Her sister later visited the valley and erected a memorial on her burial spot. The following words are inscribed on the stone:
“I will lift mine eyes unto the Hills
from whence cometh my help.”

Blue color is strange in World of flowers but to glimpse blue color flowers flourishing bountiful in the valley of flowers with different shades is surprisingly a delight to watch. Tiny blue forget-me-not carpeted throughout the valley,  beautiful Himalayan Blue Poppy ( tourists from Japan especially come to see this flower), the oddly uncommon Blue Geranium( pink and purple colour are the usual ones), small Asters with blue daisy like flowers and the captivating clusters of Blue-berries in the valley surrounded by mighty snowy peaks, waterfalls, meadows and springs give an entrancing heavenly sight to the viewers. The more you delve into the valley the more you want to explore, the attraction will keep you spellbind and your inquisitiveness ever high.

As you traverse further down the Valley you approach a stream which has a small makeshift bridge. Different kind of pink Geraniums can be spotted here. The not so common varieties of primula and orchid which bloom during June are found here. The  Potentillas( vajradanti), Impatiens and Campanulas which colour the valley red, pink and purple during July and August are in abundance here.

The valley is full of diverse species of Cobra Lily, Clematis vine, and the beautiful Inula, a sunflower like flower. Traversing upto Dunagair stream, which is the last of the major streams, signifies that you have explored the best part of the valley. This region has an entirely different feel and characteristic. Epilobium latifolia commonly known as River Beauty or Dwarf Firewood is seen growing along the banks of the stream. This plant has hermaphrodite flowers and is used in Tibetan medicines. It is mostly found around river streams, river gravels and damp slopes. A pink species of Geranium not appearing elsewhere in the Valley is also spotted here. A small Bhojpatra tree, with paper-white bark is also seen. The bark of this tree was used in ancient times as a paper to write. This magical colorful display of  enchanting flowers come to an end after 6 km stretch at a glacier. If the weather is clear the mighty Himalayan peaks of Nilgiri Parvat, Bhyundar Khal, Rattaban, Gauri Parvat etc. can be sighted in the background. There is a lot to explore in the valley and the awe inspiring beauty of it never allows you to settle down. But as the sun sets down you have to start your journey back to Ghangaria before it gets dark(reach the forest office checkpost by 6.00).

Flora-Fauna of the Valley of Flowers 

IT IS THE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT FLORA-FAUNA YOU’LL FIND IN VALLEY OF FLOWERS

Flora at the Valley of Flowers:

In 1987 the Botanical Survey of India visited the Valley of Flowers to study about the rich flora protected and taken care of inside the National Park. In 1997 the Wildlife Institute of India administered a research and discovered about 5 new species. The Valley of flower national park has its own research nursery and seed/rhizome/tuber bank at Musadhar, near the entrance of Park, where rare and medicinal plants like Aconitum heterophyllum, Aconitum falconeri, Arnebia benthamii, Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Gymnadenia orchides, Megacarpaea polyandra, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Podophyllum haxandrum and Taxus wallichiana are bred. Research area have also been set up to control the tall Himalayan knotweed Polygonum polystachium from spreading out, without causing  damage to other plants. The area of Park is dominated by sub-alpine forests of Birch and Rhododendrons that are found plentiful in Uttarakhand. A decade-long study managed by Prof. C.P. Kala from 1993 onwards indicates that the Valley of Flowers is blessed with 520 species of high altitude plants, out of which 498 are flowering plants. 

Fauna at the Valley of Flowers:

Valley is known for harbouring few rare or endangered wild animals such as Musk Deer, Red Fox, Common Langur, Tahr, Snow Leopard, Bharal, Serow, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Brown Bear and Pica (Mouse Hare). In Prof. C.P. Kala’s research, a total of 13 species of mammals were recorded in the park and its nearby areas. Although, he only sighted 9 species namely, the northern plains grey langur — Semnopithecus entellus, flying squirrel — Petaurista petaurista, Himalayan black bear — Ursus thibetanus, red fox — Vulpes vulpes, Himalayan weasel — Mustela sibirica, Himalayan yellow-throated marten — Martes flavigula, Himalayan goral — Naemorhedus goral, Himalayan musk deer — Moschus leucogaster, Indian chevrotain — Moschiola indica, Himalayan thar — Hemitragus jemlahicus and serow — Capricornis sumatraensis.
The park also features some important avifaunal species including the Sparrow Hawk, Himalayan Golden Eagle, Himalayan Snow Cock, Himalayan Monal, Snow Partridge, Snow Pigeon and the Griffon Vulture. The area also falls within the West Himalayan Endemic Bird Area. The park is also an ideal place for birds like Indian tree pipit, Blue-fronted redstart, Grosbeaks, Rose Finches, Ruby Throat, Warblers etc.

Reptiles and insects noted in the Valley of Flowers:

This alluring region has very less reptile population, only Agama tuberculata (high altitude lizard), Leiolopisma himalayana (Himalayan ground skink) and Gloydius himalayanus (Himalayan pit viper) make their presence felt here.
Wild bees and several butterfly species dwell in this valley. Some of the butterfly species spotted here are Papilio demoleus (lime butterfly), Papilio machaon (yellow swallowtail), Papilio polytes romulus (Mormon), Papilio protenor (spangle) and Parnassius hardwickei (common blue apollo). 
The 2013 Kedarnath floods caused a havoc and severely damaged the Valley of Flowers route, its bridges and the famed cobbled roads also. The government with mammoth efforts restored the national park to its full glory and opened it for visitors. Until now those found littering in the area were not penalised . However, the Uttarakhand high court has now declared entire valley to be a plastic-free zone. The forest department has mandated a plastic ban in the entire valley and any lack of compliance would draw a fine of Rs 10,000. Only water bottles are permitted against a security deposit. The Uttarakhand forest department officials have opened the badly damaged Kunth Khal-Hanuman Chatti route, after it was closed for over 45 years. This trek route also acts as an alternate route for rescue teams in case of a disaster. The number of tourists allowed in the valley has also been restricted at 300 per day. The trek is essentially a monsoon trek so it remains open for 5 months, june till october.

Brief on Valley of Flowers

The entry fee for a 3-day pass in the Valley of Flowers is

Indians Foreign Nationals
150 INR 650 INR

For each additional day, you need to pay Rs 50 if you are an Indian visitor and Rs 250 if you are a foreign national. Option to hire a guide is also available at Gobindghat.

Nationality Filming Charges: Documentary making cost : Documentary film per day charges :
Indians 1,00,00 INR 10,000 INR 50,000 INR
Foreigners/NRI 2,00,000 INR 30,000 INR 1,00,000 INR

Permit for Valley of Flowers

The Forest Department checkpoint located less than a kilometre from Ghangaria is the place where the Valley of Flowers officially begins. You need to deposit the fees here to obtain the permit for traversing inside Valley of Flowers. For obtaining the permit, you need to produce your identification cards like driving license, passport, voter ID, passport size photograph and a medical certificate ensuring that you are physically sound for the trek. Plan your trip accordingly as camping is prohibited inside and the park remains open only from 6 AM to 6 PM.

For accommodation you need to stay at Ghangaria as the Valley of Flowers does not allow the visitors to stay or camp inside the National Park.

Best Time to Visit Valley of Flowers 

The Valley of Flowers National Park remains open for the visitors from 1st June to 31st October. The best time to visit valley of flowers is month of June, when early blooming flowers can be seen, and Mid August to September end, when the monsoon season ends. During this period the valley is in its full swing and blossoms with vividly colored vibrant flowers.

Travel Tips For Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers located remotely at high altitude is one of the most sought-after destinations in Uttarakhand. To trek is the only way to reach this mesmerizing place. Here is list of essentials things to carry with and some tips to keep in mind while trekking in Valley of Flowers:

  1. Take essential clothing items like wind-cheater, raincoat, 3-4 pair of dry socks, caps as weather in mountains is always unpredictable.
  2. To not get dehydrated, drink plenty of water before the trip.
  3. Wear right kind of sturdy waterproof shoes and a size ½ no. larger as it helps in descend and saves toes from blisters and sore fingers.
  4. Carry backpack, having plastic or waterproof lining so as to save your stuff from getting wet. If possible keep extra covers to store used or wet clothing items.
  5. Keep your trekking gears, torch, whistle, Swiss knife and first aid kit handy.
  6. If you are carrying a camera or mobile phone then don’t forget to carry waterproof bags to keep them safe.
  7. It is advised to carry BSNL sim number as it has good network connectivity.
  8. Take you ID cards along because it requires to be shown to forest official to gain entry in the valley.
  9. Try to get your natural rhythm of walking. Too fast or too slow walk may lead to early fatigue.
  10. For extra energy and prep carry chocolates, lozenges, candies, dry fruits and glucose. Also take packed lunch as no food is available in Valley of Flowers.
  11. The natural streams flowing in the valley offers fresh mineral drinking water but if you wish you can carry enough water to last for a day.