We walk further down the Valley and come to a flow that has a little bridge. We place a pink Geranium that appears different from others. Geraniums are a confusing great deal, and some species change so much in colour, and resemble different species that sometimes even pros get foxed. We come across a charming sight as we walk ahead: tiny purple blossoms hugging rocks. We recognize it as Himalayan Thyme.
In the Valley, you may see lots of flowers which prefer to stick to stone, to growing in soil, and one wonders why this strange behavior. It turns out to be an ingenious survival tactic. Some soil becomes collected in stone cervices and the seeds of these tiny plants germinate well in it. In normal soil, these tiny plants could get swamped out by larger, and much more aggressive plants. The tiny dirt in rock cervices isn’t of any use to the big culprits.
Leaving the pebbled track, we proceed into the grass in search of more flowers, and nearly stamp over very tiny blue blossoms. These are very tiny, but very lovely. You will really understand the essence of tiny is beautiful in the Valley. There are some flowers so tiny that, though one get drawn to them with their vivid colours, it is tricky to get your camera to concentrate on them.
We reach the final of the major streams, called Dona gair flow. If a person has reached this point, it means one has explored the best part of the Valley. This region has a completely different character. A brand new pink species of Geranium appears here, which isn’t seen in most parts of the Valley.
There is Himalayan Thyme around on the stones, many times growing together with some yellow flowers which we are not able to identify. We encounter a lone, little Bhojpatra tree, using paper-white bark. We decide not to go ahead beyond this point, and begin our journey back to Ghangria.
Once we started from Ghangria, if we had taken the ideal side route, it would lead us to a difficult and steep climb which goes for 5 kilometres. It also takes you to a height of 4,329 metres! At this altitude, Hemkund is a stunning lake surrounded by snow peaks.
There’s a gurdwara, Hemkund Sahib, along with also a Lakshman temple on the banks of the lake. Hemkund literally means ‘lake of ice’ – and true to its title, for eight weeks of the year this lake is frozen and inaccessible. Then, in their thousands, Sikhs scale the steep rock path to the lake and then bathe in its waters that are chilled.
They arrive in the belief that Guru Govind Singh meditated here in an earlier birth. For the non-religious, the location holds its allure with its aquamarine lake surrounded by beautiful peaks. And that is the ideal elevation for many rare blossoms. The famed Brahmakamal increases in abundance amidst the rocks on the banks of this lake.
When exploring the Valley, we’re back into our hotel room in Ghangria. We must leave the next day. Ghangria generally has no electricity through the day. Power is only available in the evenings, about 6-7 p.m. Because of rain and little sunlight, our wet clothing and shoes do not get dry even in two days. We have run out of new clothing.
We’re in need of going to a dry area and have nice bath and wear new clothes. But we’re sad to leave this heavenly location. We begin our downhill trek back to Govindghat the next day in the morning. The climb down is considerably simpler, and we see new visitors huffing and puffing while coming up, and remember our hard uphill trek. Our porter wants to stop for lunch at a dhaba on the road.
We are aware that the area he eats will serve simple food that is refrigerated. So, we eat in precisely the exact same place, a tasty meal of dal, vegetable and rice. This was a pleasant change from the dal-makhani we’d been eating at Ghangria.
Following a number of hours of trekking and flower-spotting, we’re back at Govindghat. We look for the first mutual Sumo and arrive in Joshimath, where we check into the same hotel we left. A bath and fresh, dry clothing do wonders and we doze off. We get up and unwind, reminiscing about our trip while looking through our digital camera. We appear to have got over 80 new flowers.
Except for a few places where landslides had occurred, the journey back to Rishikesh the next morning is long but uneventful. By late evening we hit Rishikesh and check into a hotel. Plains’ life now tends to be dusty, crowded, and meaningless. We wonder if folks grinding through their everyday lives understand that there exists a charming place called the Valley of Flowers Trek.
Accommodation Options in the Valley of Flowers: Helicopter rides into the valley start right here. Excellent food, great hospitality, and Jaideep is a trekker himself. For more details, please check their website.
Ghangaria – that the whole village is full of hotels and guesthouses. The hotels are very basic occasionally without hot water in taps, and it tends to get cold in the evening.
Haridwar – plenty of alternatives close to the railroad station, river. Unless it’s a big group, I would suggest booking the space on the spot after checking it. Nature is with you, just be sure that you clean up the mess before you leave:-RRB-.
Regular sports shoes are sufficient to perform this trek but ankle-high hiking shoes or trekking shoes with protection against the water will always help in protecting your ankles from spins or injuries and keeping the feet dry.
Backpack to take a change of clothes, water bottle
Stick for assistance (no need for buying poles, sticks are available for sale at INR 50)
Gangharia to VoF needs packaged lunch and/or snacks, energy bars, Umbrella.