Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers

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Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra
Photo of Dream trek to the Valley of Flowers by Balachandra

It has been a long wait for us to trek the valley of flowers. Giri (Sheshagiri Gaonkar ) and I have been thinking of this for long, but the time came when Giri forwarded a mail from BMC (Bangalore Mountaineering Club) on 5th July 2012. I got excited, but was skeptical as I was in a new job and going away for a week seemed difficult. Giri had also marked a copy to Shekar ( Chandrashekaran S) and followed up with a convincing mail. He might not have expected that we would be ready! Since the dates were 10th to 15th August, we had only a month for any preparation. After some discussions, I went ahead and booked the air tickets to and fro Delhi, rail tickets from Delhi to Haridwar and return, and booked a hotel in Rishikesh for the 14th night. Though Giri was aiming initially at an 11 day schedule, all of us knew that would be difficult. BMC had circulated a list of things to have, and I did some online shopping. Shekar indulged in shopping at Wildcraft shop at Basaveshwarnagar for many things, while Giri seemed to have pretty much everything ready.

Though BMC had plans of bringing all the participants together by the way of a one day trek to Anatargange, it seems it didn’t happen because of poor turnout. We thought any way we will meet all of them during the Himalayan trek.

We left for Delhi on 8th afternoon by 4 pm Spice Jet flight that reached Delhi at 6.40 pm. We took a cab from the airport to old Delhi railway station where we had dinner at ‘Comesum’. We caught Mussoorie express which leaves Delhi at 10.20pm and reaches Haridwar at 5.50. The journey was fine in the 2 tier AC compartment, but the train reached Haridwar at 7.30. There were others traveling by the same train (Pooja, Radhika, Payal, Jigna, Nelson, Chandan). After some discussion, we decided to take a jeep to Rishikesh.  There was a Force Traveler waiting for us with driver Rakesh and guide Bhagvan (a mountaineer who works for a company called Above 14000 feet- http://www.above14000ft.com/me/team/). They let us freshen up quickly in a hotel, Pooja brought some packed parathas that we devoured while in the vehicle.  We started around 9.30 from Rishikesh. The 280 kelometers journey by NH 58 was very picturesque, while scary at places due to landslides. The journey was through Dev prayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Bhagirathi), Srinagar, Rudra prayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Mandakini), Karna prayag(confluence of rivers Alkananda and Pindar), Nanda prayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Nandakini), Chamoli, Joshimath and finally Vishnuprayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Dhauliganga). The journey was about 10 hours and the driver was excellent, never letting us feel the difficulty of the road. We had to stop and wait in a couple of places due to landslides that were cleared quickly. The journey was very beautiful, Alaknanda River flowing by the side of the highway all along and each prayag offering the beauty of two differently colored rivers joining. I took quite a few pictures during the journey. While it was beautiful, it was also scary due to the landslides which had reduced the rod to half in some places.

It has been a long wait for us to trek the valley of flowers. Giri (Sheshagiri Gaonkar ) and I have been thinking of this for long, but the time came when Giri forwarded a mail from BMC (Bangalore Mountaineering Club) on 5th July 2012. I got excited, but was skeptical as I was in a new job and going away for a week seemed difficult. Giri had also marked a copy to Shekar ( Chandrashekaran S) and followed up with a convincing mail. He might not have expected that we would be ready! Since the dates were 10th to 15th August, we had only a month for any preparation. After some discussions, I went ahead and booked the air tickets to and fro Delhi, rail tickets from Delhi to Haridwar and return, and booked a hotel in Rishikesh for the 14th night. Though Giri was aiming initially at an 11 day schedule, all of us knew that would be difficult. BMC had circulated a list of things to have, and I did some online shopping. Shekar indulged in shopping at Wildcraft shop at Basaveshwarnagar for many things, while Giri seemed to have pretty much everything ready.

Though BMC had plans of bringing all the participants together by the way of a one day trek to Anatargange, it seems it didn’t happen because of poor turnout. We thought any way we will meet all of them during the Himalayan trek.

We left for Delhi on 8th afternoon by 4 pm Spice Jet flight that reached Delhi at 6.40 pm. We took a cab from the airport to old Delhi railway station where we had dinner at ‘Comesum’. We caught Mussoorie express which leaves Delhi at 10.20pm and reaches Haridwar at 5.50. The journey was fine in the 2 tier AC compartment, but the train reached Haridwar at 7.30. There were others traveling by the same train (Pooja, Radhika, Payal, Jigna, Nelson, Chandan). After some discussion, we decided to take a jeep to Rishikesh.  There was a Force Traveler waiting for us with driver Rakesh and guide Bhagvan (a mountaineer who works for a company called Above 14000 feet- http://www.above14000ft.com/me/team/). They let us freshen up quickly in a hotel, Pooja brought some packed parathas that we devoured while in the vehicle.  We started around 9.30 from Rishikesh. The 280 kelometers journey by NH 58 was very picturesque, while scary at places due to landslides. The journey was through Dev prayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Bhagirathi), Srinagar, Rudra prayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Mandakini), Karna prayag(confluence of rivers Alkananda and Pindar), Nanda prayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Nandakini), Chamoli, Joshimath and finally Vishnuprayag (confluence of rivers Alkananda and Dhauliganga). The journey was about 10 hours and the driver was excellent, never letting us feel the difficulty of the road. We had to stop and wait in a couple of places due to landslides that were cleared quickly. The journey was very beautiful, Alaknanda River flowing by the side of the highway all along and each prayag offering the beauty of two differently colored rivers joining. I took quite a few pictures during the journey. While it was beautiful, it was also scary due to the landslides which had reduced the rod to half in some places.

We reached Pandukeshwar (6300ft), a place ahead of Govind Ghat that got its name as Pandu is believed to have done penance here, at 7.30pm. The hotel was decent and there were people who had reached ahead of us who welcomed us warmly. We got a room for three, quickly freshened up and assembled at Khandelwal vaishnav dhaba. The food (Aloo-pyaz paratha with butter) was lovely.

As we were all tired we all hit the beds early. The next morning we were told to finish our breakfast early and leave for Ghangaria (3049m, AKA Govid Dham- named after Guru Govind Singh), but as people were tired from the previous days long journey, many did not seem to be in a great hurry. We put our bigger backpacks on mules and carried the smaller backpacks with us. The trail is a 13 km upwards trek through a well maintained rocky path, the only problem being the strong smell emanating from the horse dung.  We also took some steep shortcuts to avoid the smell. The weather was pleasant all along. Laxman Ganga flows along the path. There are places for food. I tried some fresh thandai (drink made of almonds, cashews and khaskhas) and in the afternoon had a freshly prepared paratha. We took almost seven hours to cover the length of 13kms as we were clicking lot of pictures along the scenic path. Some of us were given rooms in a hotel called Guru Kripa, which was decent. We had group dinner at a place called Gangotri, which belonged to the same people who ran Kahndelwal’s dhaba. The food was a preordered menu, very delicious.  The owner and waiters were very courteous and served with a smile. We talked to the group about leaving early the next morning as we wanted to make the best use of our time.

Ghangaria is a base of both Valley Of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib, thus has a big population of Sikh pilgrims. We had an early breakfast and left for VoF around 6.45am. The 3km climb till reaching voF was very scenic. I met Shahsi on the way and we exchanged our experiences. The whole terrain was beautiful with different wild flower stretches. There were few small streams to be crossed and a glacier through which the river flowed with full abandon. As the ponies are not allowed here, there was no problem of smell either. The whole place is unbelievable. The very fact that it is natural and wild makes it very special. I just went berserk photographing the flowers like never before, indulging the ‘macro’ mode. There is a memorial grave for Miss Margaret Legge, a botanist from UK who died here in 1939.

Shashi and Ram were walking along. We walked 4km into the park (total 7km) and stopped at a stone wall beyond which a stream flowed downwards into the river. We could only see long stretches of meadow and valley, but not much of flowers. We decided to have lunch here. Morning we had packed fulkas and aloo from Gangotri that tasted delicious. I also got a few satisfactory birdshots. After some time we started walking back and Ram sped away. We met many of our group at a big rock where we relaxed for some time. Though we felt reluctant to leave the place, we knew that there is a descent to be done before we reached the hotel.

We reached the hotel around 7 and rested for a while before heading to Gangotri for dinner. As the cell phones were not working, we called home using public STD booths. I was feeling a bit feverish due to two consecutive days of treks, but there was the charm of visiting Hemkund the next day. In the larger group there was some discussion about some people skipping Hemkund for Badri, but it looked like the idea fizzled out.

Next morning we left early for Hemkund Sahib. There were chances of rain, and hence we went prepared for it. The climb was steep, curvy and there were many pilgrims going along. We reached the top by noon and went into the Gurudwara where bhajan keertan was going on and people inside looked very relaxed.  We sat inside for some time, came out and tasted delicious khichdi at the langar. Outside was very foggy and the lake was hardly seen. We visited the Laxman Temple where “Jyoti Kalash Chalake” song was playing and the fog cleared to uncover beautiful view of the lake.

We started descending around 2.30pm while it was raining. I got to try my new poncho that made me look like batman. We could also take more photos of flowers at Hemkund sahib, three prominent being blue poppies, brahma kamals and a son flower kind of yellow flower. My shoes were completely soggy and it was difficult. As we were about 1km from Ghangaria, we saw a Panjabi old lady with her son struggling to walk and our friends Mukunth and Raji extending help. Shekar lent a helping hand in carrying her, but we realized that it was going to be extremely difficult to do it for a long time. I rushed forward and reached the base very quickly and inquired about a doli and sent one to their help. The person who sent the doli from a tea shop asked me to stay there (as a mortgage!!). After some time I saw the doli carrying the old lady, her son came and thanked me. I learned that Shekar had to pay the doli. We felt glad that we could be of help to someone.

Next morning we heard that many of them had decided to take the helicopter from Ghangaria to Govind ghat, but we thought we will walk down and complete the trek.  My shoes were soggy and I walked in my sandals which gave me bites on the rough terrain. We again took many photos on the way back that slowed us down and we reached Govind ghat at 12.30pm. By the time we traced the vehicle, it was 1pm and the driver was impatiently waiting for us. But we had to have lunch too. We had quick lunch there and got into the force traveler. We were worried that we shouldn’t be stopped on the way because of landslides, or by authorities as vehicles are not allowed in that road during night. We had Tejas, Rakesh Singh, Karthik, Chandan, The two Manish’s, Saurav, Sagar and Chandan Mitra in our vehicle. We got to know more about some of them. Manish Agrawal, Manish Sinha nd Saurav Santuka got down at Joshimutt as they had plans to visit Auli. Till it turned dark we enjoyed the sight of panch prayags and the fiercely beautiful surrounding. The van dropped us near Divine Ganga Cottage that is about 4kms from Rishikesh at 12.30am. We felt really good about booking a hotel well in advance. We had to wake up the hotel people who were courteous. They got us our rooms ready while we went in search of food. We had to walk about 3km to a place where there was a small cart shop that sold fresh bun –butter. The place had many beggars, mad woman, dogs…, but the bun and butter was lifesaving. Once again, the shopkeeper was very courteous. It was almost 3 am by the time we returned to the hotel. We caught up few hours’ sleep. When I woke up in the morning and looked out of the window, the scene was indeed Devine, with Ganga in full flow and temples on the banks. There were many birds around that place including a couple of peacocks.  We once again couldn’t resist clicking more pictures. We also met Ramesh, who had trekked with us. He had plans to stay and visit some ashrams around Rishikesh.

We got ready and went around Rishikesh, passing the Laxman Jhoola, the market place and did some pilgrim shopping. It was indeed heartening to see the spiritual places thriving with Sadhus, Sanyasis and other pilgrims. We came out via the Ram Jhoola and caught an auto to the hotel. At the hotel, the very amicable manager Gautami arranged for a taxi for us to go to Haridwar. At Haridwar we booked a hotel called Bhaskar near the railway station, freshened up and went to an A/c place for nice lunch. Though it was tempting to try out one of the “Vaishnav bhojanalays”, we resisted. After the lunch, we came back to the hotel and rested for some time. In the evening, we caught a horse cart to go to the Manasa Devi Temple. There was long queue for the cable car that takes one to the hill top temple, but we decided to go ahead. The cable car journey was scenic. The temple management did not come across as great. After coming down, we caught a cycle rickshaw to the Ganga Ghat, which is called as “Harki Pauri.” We were just in time for the very famous “Ganga Aarti”. While the people who helped us participate in this were doing it for a profit, we didn’t mind. The whole atmosphere was electrifying..

We also lit the lamp and let it float on Ganga and waited to see how long it goes. We came back to the hotel, had dinner this time in a bhojanalay. As we were just across the railway station, it was easy to walk even with our luggage.

The train journey by Mussoorie Express was comfortable and we reached Delhi in the morning. We went to Shekar’s nephews place at Rajendra nagar for freshening up, had south Indian breakfast in the Sharavana Bhavan and proceeded for the airport.  We caught our Spice Jet flight and returned safely home.

The trek to Valley of flowers was unforgettable. The whole terrain was wonderful and will remain green forever in my memory. Though the trek was for four continuous days with 14 kms each day, we could keep our energy high. Very compatible friends Shekar and Giri made the whole experience even more enjoyable. We also made many new friends during this trek.

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Hi Bala, Glad you had a great Mussoorie trip! We would love to introduce Green Windows resort to you in Mussoorie -Dhanaulti road. We offer Bamboo huts & tent camps stay along with awesome food & adventure activities. Do visit us, Happy Travelling!
Tue 04 05 16, 07:09 · Reply · Report
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