Uttarakhand is best known for its pilgrimage sites and mountain resorts. Come spring, or summer as we call it in India, and the Northern State becomes a beautiful canvas for alpine flowers. The period from April to September is said to be the best time to witness nature in its full glory so if you’re planning a trip to Uttarakhand, here’s how you should go about it.
Valley of Flowers
Imagine taking a stroll down a valley full of blooms surrounded by high peaks, glaciers and waterfalls; sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Trekking is the best way to experience Uttarakhand’s famous Valley of Flowers. It is located in the Bhyundar Valley of Chamoli District at an elevation of 3,658 metres above sea level. It is the second core zone of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. This time of the year is especially spellbinding in terms of the visuals of the valley, as it hosts all sorts of birds and butterflies along with the flowers.
A world heritage site, this valley is also a national park. The spring blooms start around mid-April, while the trekking route becomes operational from June 1 to October 31 every year.
How To Plan The Trek
A vehicle can be hired from Haridwar to Joshimath, where one should halt for a night to get ample rest so as to be able to trek the next day. The following day, the same vehicle can drop you from Joshimath to Govindghat from where the trek begins. The next step is a 14km (easy) trek from Govindghat to Ghangaria—the Valley of Flowers basecamp.
An overnight rest can get you charged up for another 8km trek the next day. Your destination is the Valley of Flowers National Park, believed to have around 500 species of flowers and about 80 species of fauna. The valley ends at the tomb of botanist Joan Margaret Legge, sister of British mountaineer Sir Frank Smyth who also named this valley.
If you’d like to further challenge yourself, trek up to Hemkund Sahib, a popular pilgrimage site among Sikhs, situated 8km from the valley with a steep ascent. The place is surrounded by Great Himalayan peaks and the Zanskar range which are the reasons for its extremely cold and windy climate. The oxygen levels are feeble, which is why it is advisable not to stay for too long at such a high altitude.
Other Places of Interest
Govindghat: At Govindghat, one can witness the confluence of the mighty Alaknanda River and the Laxman Ganga. This place is also the starting point of the Valley of Flowers trek.
Joshimath: The famous skiing destination, Auli is accessible from Joshimath with the help of a cable car or ropeway and is just 10km away. Situated 14km away from Joshimath is Tapovan, a famous tourist and pilgrimage place with a view to die for! About two hours away from Joshimath is the Niti village, which is the last village in Chamoli District and an Indo-Tibetan border area. Thaing Village is another scenic spot near Joshimath. This village is also the base camp for the Chenab Valley Trek. Vishnuprayag, about 40km away from Joshimath, is a small town where you can sight the confluence of the Alaknanda River and the Dhauliganga River.
Mana: Inhabited by Indo-mongolian tribe Bhotia, Mana is a small village of significance in terms of tourism and mythology. Set at the banks of river Saraswati, it consists of Tapt Kund, a natural spring and Vasudhara, a beautiful waterfall. Vyas Gufa, Ganesh Gufa and Bheem Pul are important locations as a part of the Mahabharata and are all located in Mana.
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