I would like to share our trek experience to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib which we visited recently in the month of August 2019. We were a family of 8 members out of which 5 were from Hyderabad, 2 from Singapore and 1 from America. Our main trip organizer, Mr. Shyam, sent us all the instructions and the checklist of things to carry for the trip. He also instructed us to workout, especially climbing stairs, which would ease our knees during the trekking. On 28th July we took a flight from Hyderabad to Dehradun and from the airport we took a vehicle to Rishikesh where we spent the night at Jeeyar Mutt. The same evening, we went to Triveni Ghat to watch the Ganga aarti which was quite startling.
On the 29th July morning, after breakfast, we started from Rishikesh to Govind Ghat. It was 9 to 10 hours long scenic journey. Our guides- Mr. Bachan Singh, Mr. Rishab and Mr. Jaya accompanied us to the valley of flowers till the very end. On the way we stopped at Devprayag- a point where Alaknanda and Bhagiratha rivers meet to form Ganga. Finally, we reached Joshimath where we spent the night in a guest house in Marwari.
On the morning of 30th July, we started our drive to Ghangaria from where we took a vehicle till Pulna. The trail of valley of flowers starts from the small village of Pulna. From here you can take pittu, khachchar (called as mules) or walk up to Ghangaria village passing the Bhyundar village. We started walking at our own pace gazing at the mountains, clouds and waterfalls. The trail was steep but was amazing since nature was a feast for our eyes. You find green foliage everywhere. It seemed like a different world altogether. After 5 hours of continoustrekking, we reached Ghangaria which was a total of 10km trek (7,800 ft) where we spent our next 3 days in tents at the Camp Valley. All the guides accompanied us during the trek, and they were very professional and friendly.
All the tents were named after flowers. The tent in which I was staying was named Rhododendron. The tents were well equipped with attached bathroom. Since the best season to visit the valley is monsoon, rain keeps pouring down 24x7. The temperature at Ghangaria is usually 11 degrees centigrade. After a long trek we were served hot water for bathing which was followed by hot pakoras with chai. We enjoyed our evening leisure time staring at the nature, as we were completely mesmerised by it. The tents were exactly in the lap of the mountains. Gazing at the greenery we completely forgot how tired we were. Every night, we had a homely dinner and went to bed with the excitement to see something new every day.
The next day i.e. 31st July, we started from Ghangaria to the Valley of flowers, which comes under the zone of National park by the orders of the government. The trek is exactly 4km long. (11,500 ft). Our main initiators from our family were my Aunt, Mother in law and Father in law. Their zeal towards the trek pulled us all for the trip and motivated us to keep moving.
It started pouring down the moment we started our trek. As suggested by Mr. Shyam in the trek checklist we carried rain coats, rain gear, quick dry clothes, warm socks and trek shoes. Believe me, these are very essential as the treks are steep and rain keeps pouring down almost all the time. The hostler asks you to climb on the mule or the pittu since it’s the only way they can make their bread. It’s sounds discouraging too for us but it's up to one's confidence that they can walk. The trek was awesome where you pass through the bridges and waterfalls. You also get a view of the snow peaks. The climate is also unpredictable as few minutes it appears clear but in the very next minute it turns out to be misty. Finally, we reached the valley of flowers after 4 hours. On reaching, we first had our lunch bought by our guides and then started walking further into the valley.
The moment we reached the valley, to our luck, the sky became clear. The valley was full of Blue poppy, Nepeta Laevigata, Origanum vulgare, Oxytropislapponica, Parnassianubicola etc.
Seeing those flowers the only song which crossed my mind was ”Tujhedekhatohyehjanasanam” . I do remember that the song was set amidst the background of Sarson ka khet but a similar kind of thought was running in my mind. I was completely enthralled with the beauty of the flowers. You can further walk 6 km in the valley to see its beauty, with the glacier and peaks. The valley was discovered by a group of British mountaineers Frank S. Smythe, Eric Shipton and R.L. Holdsworth, who accidently stumbled upon the valley after losing their way. After enjoying the view, we started descending down as the weather was turning misty. We returned to our tents, had good dinner and a good sleep. On 1st August –we woke up early in the morning, had breakfast and started trekking towards Hemkund Sahib. It is a 5.5 km (14,100 ft) trail from Ghangaria. Since the trail is very steep and due to time constraint we all took mules to reach the top. The weather was misty that day too. All along the way to Hemkund, you find the flower Brahmakamal which is native to Himalayas.
Hemkund Sahib is a pilgrimage site for the people who follow Sikhism. The glacial lake near the gurudwara is surrounded by seven mountain peaks. People take a dip in the lake before going into the gurudwara. The temperature is usually 13 to 20 degrees and is cold throughout the day. We visited the gurudwara and went to the langar where khichdi and chai were served hot. After a while, we slowly started descending down the trail which took us 4 hours to complete. My father in law got hurt the previous day yet he came along. Such is the beauty of the place. The whole trail is cleaned by sweepers at regular intervals. If people litter around, they are charged a fine of Rs.100. As usual we had a great dinner thanks to our cooks and slept comfortably in our tents.
On the morning of 2nd August – we started the descend from Ghangaria to Govindghat. Our luggages were brought in pittu. From Govindghat, we took a vehicle to Pulna from where we boarded another car to start our journey towards Badrinath. We reached Badrinath just in time for the darshan before the temple was getting closed. We visited the Tapt Kund (hot spring) in the temple as well. Later, we had lunch and started our long scenic journey back to Rishikesh. I would like to thank our wonderful guides Mr. Bachan, Jay and Rishab from Himalaya Shelter who took utmost care of us and guided us the whole trek. They served us with hospitality and made our trip comfortable.
On the way back to Rishikesh, we visited Auli which is a popular as a Ski destination known for its snowy slopes. From December to February months this place is snow bound and chilly. We hopped on to the ropeway and enjoyed the view of the mountains.
After reaching Jeeyar Mutt, Rishikesh we bid goodbye to our guides and left for the Ganga aarti.
Finally, on 4th August we boarded the flight from Dehradun to Hyderabad. The whole trip was memorable, unforgettable and beautiful. In,Ghangaria your mobile phones will not work as there is no signal so this is the perfect time to enjoy the nature. People who are love trekking and the people who are nature lovers will for sure enjoy the trek more than anyone. The Dev Bhoomi is simply incomparable!