Lose the Paunch, Get the Poncho: Monsoon Trek to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib

Tripoto
Photo of Lose the Paunch, Get the Poncho: Monsoon Trek to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib by Arjit Anand

Sometime in May we decided to go for a trek. Being the starters we are, we were looking for a trek which was not so difficult. Then we came across the Valley of Flowers trek by Indiahikes. We liked the itinerary, terrain, description and most importantly the pictures posted by trekkers who have been to the trek. The destination was finalized. We decided to start our trek on 30th July.

Day 1

We started on 28th July evening. A flight to Delhi and and an early morning train to Haridwar.

Day 2
Photo of Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand
Photo of Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

We reached Haridwar at around 12:30 PM. We were to spend the whole day in Haridwar. The city was full of kaawariyas who were en route to Shiv Darshan to higher Himalayas. When in Haridwar, you cannot miss Ganga Arti at Har ki Pauri. We got ourselves a seat with good view and attended the Arti. We visited Mansa Devi temple as well. We had to leave for Govindghat early in the morning the next day.

Day 3
Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

We started from Haridwar at 6:30 AM in the morning. We met few of our group members for the first time. Most of us were first time trekkers and were very excitedly looking forward for the experience. The journey from Haridwar to Govindghat is a long one (10 hours drive). We saw the confluence of Alaknanda & Bhagirathi at Devprayag on the way.

Photo of Lose the Paunch, Get the Poncho: Monsoon Trek to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib by Arjit Anand

The drive also presents some lovely sights. It was rainy season and the river was also very ferocious in some parts. We reached Govindghat by 6:00 PM where we met the Indiahikes team and rest of the group. We were briefed about the plan, timings, dos and don'ts for the trek. Green Trails is one of the Indiahikes initiatives which aims to keep the mountains clean, is worth mentioning here.

Day 4
Photo of Ghangaria, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand
Photo of Ghangaria, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

Set to Go!!

Photo of Ghangaria, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

The trek to Ghangharia from Govindghat is 12.3 km. There is road till Pulna which is around 3km from Govindghat. We went till Pulna in a vehicle and walked the rest 9km. This was one of the toughest stretch of trek that we did during the trip. The persistent rain made it even more difficult. We carried our own bags though there was an option of offloading. Ghangharia is at an altitude of 10000 ft, we gained 4000 feet during the trek. We were treated with smokin' hot tea and snacks on reaching Ghangharia which was to be our base camp for next 2-days.

Day 5
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

Cool place for a date!

Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

The Bell Flower & Valley

Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

The most awaited part of the whole trip was Valley of flowers and it did not disappoint us a bit. Although the pictures look amazing ( I know they do ;) ) but these are not doing justice to the actual thing. The path is paved in some part of the trek and is a rocky, uneven trail in majority of the trail. We trekked 4.5 km into the valley and gained 1500 feet during the climb.

We were lucky to get clear view of the valley for sometime but it was soon engulfed by the clouds rendering it invisible sorts within minutes. The valley owes a lot to a certain Joan Margaret Legge who as a botanist has contributed a lot to identify and popularize the fauna in the valley. There is a memorial stone dedicated to her in the valley. We trekked back to Ghangharia the same day.

The Valley of flowers is considered to be the easier than Hemkund but I felt it more difficult. The rocky terrain hurt. Descent was even more tiring and challenging as it rained while we were trekking back to Ghangharia. The tea and snacks waited for us as usual. :)

Day 6

Usual sight during the trek

Photo of Hemkundsahib Utrakhand, Ranjit Nagar, Khanna, Punjab, India by Arjit Anand

Glacier enroute to Hemkund

Photo of Hemkundsahib Utrakhand, Ranjit Nagar, Khanna, Punjab, India by Arjit Anand

Hemkund Sahib

Photo of Hemkundsahib Utrakhand, Ranjit Nagar, Khanna, Punjab, India by Arjit Anand

Clouds engulfing the lake

Photo of Hemkundsahib Utrakhand, Ranjit Nagar, Khanna, Punjab, India by Arjit Anand

The lake is just behind him

Photo of Hemkundsahib Utrakhand, Ranjit Nagar, Khanna, Punjab, India by Arjit Anand

Next day we trekked to Hemkund Sahib which is the world's highest Gurudwara at an altitude of 15200 feet. The trek was of around 6km one side during which we gained 5200 feet. The path to Hemkund is well paved and broad. The 5200 feet gain in 6 km makes it a little steep climb to the Gurudwara but it never seemed very strenuous to us. The trail has its own challenges though, the ponies. Several ponies tread the trail and walkers have to keep looking out for them. When there are no ponies around they still don't let you miss them as there is enough shit (literally) on the path that wouldn't let you forget them. We reached Gurudwara on time and attended ardaas and received the prasad. The chai-khichdi langar of the Gurudwara is another not to miss during the visit. Brahmkamal, a popular and rare flower was also sighted near the Gurudwara.

Photo of Lose the Paunch, Get the Poncho: Monsoon Trek to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib by Arjit Anand

After sumptuous serving of langar, we started our walk back to Ghangharia as the rain started. The walk down was very smooth and easy despite the rains as we even enjoyed a round of antakshari during the descend. Guess what welcomed us back at Ghangharia??

Day 7

The last stretch was the walk down to Govindghat from Ghangharia. We started early and reached Govindghat by 1:00 PM. We were aided by clear weather on the way back.

Photo of Badrinath, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand
Photo of Badrinath, Uttarakhand, India by Arjit Anand

Few of the group members decided to visit Badrinath temple which was 24 km from Govindghat and it was possible to come back by dinner time. We joined them. Being monsoon, an off season for the visit to the temple there was no rush and we did the darshan without any pushing being involved which is the norm in such places.

Photo of Lose the Paunch, Get the Poncho: Monsoon Trek to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib by Arjit Anand
Photo of Lose the Paunch, Get the Poncho: Monsoon Trek to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib by Arjit Anand
Day 8

We for Haridwar the next day in the vehicle. We were held up for 4-hours at Vishnuprayag due to a landslide. The BRO was quick enough to build a temporary path for vehicles using mud and machines otherwise it would have been a long haul. We reached Haridwar by night and took the train next morning to Delhi.

The trip was successful in so many terms for us. We were able to visit one of the breath takingly beautiful places on the earth, we never were very exhausted or AMS sick during the whole trek, no backaches, which is not so uncommon for both of us and met some very interesting people. We worked on our fitness before the trek and the experience has made us realize the importance of being fit especially if you want to enjoy such places.

We are already working on our next trek plan :)

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