Why the Valley of Flowers trek should be your first foray into the Himalayas (Part 1)

Tripoto
22nd Aug 2018
Photo of Why the Valley of Flowers trek should be your first foray into the Himalayas (Part 1) by Prachi Shah
Photo of Why the Valley of Flowers trek should be your first foray into the Himalayas (Part 1) 1/1 by Prachi Shah

The experience of trying something for the first time always is special. If it's a high altitude trek then it is more so memorable because it opens your eyes to a new world of beauty, wonder and unmatched joy of scaling those heights. My first trek in the Himalayas was completely unplanned. On a regular day, one of my friends texted me saying that she is bugged and needs a break. On a whim I told her lets go for a trek somewhere in the north. Cool bean that she is, she said yes immediately and we booked ourselves with Indiahikes for the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib trek in Uttarakhand.

I would highly recommend this trek to beginners because it is rewarding in its views, challenging but not so strenuous that a first timer will not be able to manage it. This was my first time in Uttarakhand and I fell in love with this land. It's called Devbhoomi, I guess for the numerous pilgrim spots there like Badrinath, Kedarnath etc. But I believe its called a Devbhoomi because only a divine force could create something so spectacularly beautiful.

Day 1

The journey begins from Haridwar from where Indiahikes folks have arranged for transportation which will take us to Govindghat from where the trek begins. Haridwar to Govindghat took us about 12 hours and throughout that road trip my head was hanging out of the window because I just couldn't get enough of those magnanimous views. Here's a glimpse...

Photo of Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah

en route Govindghat

Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Day 2

Honestly Govindghat itself looked so alluring that for a second I was like damn the trek, I am happy staying just here. But of course I was up at the crack of dawn on 23rd August, all set for my trek. I had decided to offload my backpack as I wanted to enjoy the trail freely and also didn't feel was physically fit to lift 9kgs and walk 10 kms. It's a well laid out trail from Poolna to Ghangria; the base camp and took us about 8 hours. A gradual ascend with the river keeping you company till mid way. The point where you cross the river, make sure you have your lunch there as you'll have the river gushing next to you, that sound of water is hypnotically melodious and clouds playing with the mountains hold your attention and how. See it for yourself...

Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Govindghat, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah

Once you are close to Ghangaria, the terrain flattens out. The village has a single street lined with small lodges and one of these was going to be our home for the next 2 days. 3 people per room but heck the rooms were used just for sleeping and keeping our stuff. Rest all the time we were either on the trek or having fun in the courtyard of the lodge, exchanging stories, laughter, food in that order :-)

Photo of Ghangaria, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Ghangaria, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Day 3

The next morning we were all set for our trek to VOF. No one could have prepared us for the beauty we were about to be hit with. We started at about 7 am, walked some 500 metres towards the mountain ranges and the first sight of the bridge over the waterfall itself captured my attention. The trek leader and 2 trek guides assembled us near the bridge and gave us some basic information about the trek (altitude, terrain expectation, tips in case of some medical emergency etc). The path forks into two once you cross the bridge, the left one leading to VOF and the right to Hemkund Sahib.

Initially it's a slow ascend and then it gets steep till you reach the entrance to the Valley. In the valley it's nearly flat lands you have to traverse to get to the river bed and view of the glacier. You'll get to experience it all on this trek, numerous waterfall crossings on makeshift but sturdy wooden bridges, lush green vegetation enveloping your walk, mountains taller than your eyes can see till, clouds within touching distance and of course your first glimpse when you enter the valley will forever remain a memory to hold onto. Because you'll be hit with the view of millions of flowers all laid out like a carpet, pinks and yellows and whites...

There are no water or food sources on this trek so pls ensure you carry enough sustenance to last you through the day.

Another important tip: don't limit your trek till the entrance to the valley, walk some 2-3 kilometers more till you get to the river bed because that's not a sight you would want to miss out on. Your heart skips a beat literally, it's that breathtaking and the path till the river bed is stunningly quaint and you feel you are walking in a magical land.

My third tip would be always have a walking stick, not just for this trek but for any Himalayan trek in general. It truly saves your energy and in case of this trek where the terrain is a little rough at places, it saves you from losing your footing as well.

Time your trek such that you get to the valley by 1 pm, have an hour or so to enjoy your time there and then head back to the base camp so that you are back before sunset.

I'll let the images below stun you folks into silence...

Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
Photo of Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand, India by Prachi Shah
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