Your Essential Guide To The Valley Of Flowers Trek

The UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the two core zones of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, opens to visitors in June
 The valley is known for its breathtaking beauty
The valley is known for its breathtaking beauty Ekantak/Shutterstock

India is blessed with some of the most unique and valuable natural heritage, including vast stretches of seasonal wildflowers that bloom only on rare occasions. These wildflowers are predominantly found in protected areas and national parks. One such famous national park is the Valley of Flowers National Park, situated in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The Valley of Flowers was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2005. One of the two core zones of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, it was discovered by three British mountaineers in 1931. The valley is known for its breathtaking beauty, opens to visitors in June, and is perfect for a summer holiday immersed in nature. Here is a guide to help you plan your visit there.

The Journey

The journey to this beautiful place is a long trip. The trek covers a distance of 38km and takes four days. You have to hike up from a point called Govindghat. After many hours, you reach Ghangharia, which is the overnight halt for the valley. As of now, visitors must travel about 12 kilometres from Ghangharia, the trek's starting point, to reach the Valley of Flowers.

At Govindghat in  Chamoli district, Uttarakhand
At Govindghat in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand StockGalery/Shutterstock

Embark on your trek in the morning from Govindghat to Ghangaria, covering a distance of approximately 14 km. The journey usually takes 6-7 hours to complete. During your hike, take in the breathtaking landscapes and enjoy the captivating confluence of the Alaknanda and Bhyundar rivers. By evening, you should arrive in Ghangaria, which is also known as "Gobind Dham." It is a picturesque village nestled at an altitude of approximately 3,050 metres. Upon your arrival, settle into your accommodation for a well-deserved rest.

To reach the starting point, you can drive down from Rishikesh. The nearest airport is Dehradun, which is currently operational. You can easily book a flight from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Ahmedabad. Note that the airport is only open from June to October as it remains covered in snow during other months. Govindghat, which is the designated base camp for the Valley of Flowers trek, is located in the Chamoli district where the Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga rivers meet. It is highly recommended that you take some time to rest and acclimatise to the altitude after checking into your accommodation. You can explore the beautiful surroundings of Govindghat by taking a gentle walk, which will prepare you for the upcoming trekking adventure.

Reports say that officials have approved the construction of a 7.2km road linking Pulna to Bhyundar village in Chamoli district. It is estimated that the distance to the Valley of Flowers will drop to about 5 kilometres with the opening of the new road. Not only that. The trip to the pilgrimage site of Hemkund Sahib, a holy gurdwara located near the ice-bound Hemkund Lake, will also be simplified by the road. Starting at Ghangharia, the current 15km walk to the Sikh shrine will only take roughly 8km, thanks to the new road.

What You Can See There

The rare Himalayan Blue Poppy in the Valley of Flowers National Park
The rare Himalayan Blue Poppy in the Valley of Flowers National ParkDeejays/Shutterstock

The notified area of 87.5 square kilometres lies above 10,500 feet and is covered in snow from November to April. The valley has a range of altitudes and vegetation, but only 19 square kilometres are accessible to tourists. This area is a fertile meadowland that visitors can explore and enjoy. When in bloom, it is like a radiant canvas. Over 600 flower species exist, such as orchids, poppies, primulas, marigolds, and daisies. Sub-alpine birch forests and rhododendrons cover some parts of the park's area. In May, large parts of the valley are full of blue primulas. In June, the purple-red geraniums dominate. The valley is also home to several endangered animals, such as the Himalayan snow leopard, musk deer and other exotic plant species.

The Story Behind The Name


In 1931, mountaineer Frank S Smythe and his colleagues, including the legendary mountaineer Eric Shipton, stumbled upon a valley while returning from a successful expedition to climb Kamet. They were mesmerised by the vibrant carpet of colours that covered the valley floor. The valley was so rich in flowers that it was impossible to take a step without crushing one. Six years later, Smythe returned to the valley with the intention of climbing, exploring, and collecting flowers and seeds. His reminiscences were later published as "The Valley of Flowers," and the name has stuck ever since.

Until 1982, the Bhyundar Valley was home to people who populated its hills, rivers, and forests with stories about deities and fairies. They used its meadows as summer grazing grounds for their animals. Later, the valley was declared a national park. Today, it is part of the larger Nanda Devi National Park and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Preparing For The Trek

The Valley of Flowers trek is considered moderate and involves walking for about 10-12 km per day. The altitude of the trek ranges from 3,858 meters to 4,572 meters, which can cause altitude sickness in some people. Start prepping your body for the trek at least two months before you go. You can do this by beginning a moderate exercise regime that includes fast walking or jogging, and cardio exercises in a gym. According to experts, this trek requires several weeks of preparation. Eat nutritious food with plenty of protein. And avoid all processed, fried, and fast foods.

The Information

All trekkers have to carry a photo ID for entry at forest check posts through the trek route. Trek permits are valid for three days.

Entry: Indians INR 150; Foreigners: INR 600

Timings: 7 am to 3 pm

Photography Free; Videography: Indians: INR 500; Foreigners: INR 1,500.

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