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Old 18th September 2019, 23:54   #1
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Default Trek to Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

If nature was Leonardo da Vinci, Valley of Flowers would be the Mona Lisa. We all love flowers - imagine an entire valley full of flowers - over 500 species of them. Sitting at home, you could only imagine how beautiful it would be. But, when you are out there, it turns out to be million times more beautiful.

This is the story of our trek to this art of nature.

Preparation

As soon as we came to know about the Valley of Flowers, it was on our bucket list. This place can be visited from May to November. However, there are only a couple of months where you would see the valley in its full blossom - July and August. In these months, monsoon would create ideal conditions for flowers to bloom.

Last year went by in just thinking about it, so, we were not going to miss it this year. The plan was on since January and got finally executed in August.

Vlog

Do watch our Vlog for Valley of Flowers:



Day 1 - Delhi to Joshimath

For the trek to start, we have to reach Ghangharia and reaching this village is a task in itself. We reached Haridwar on an overnight bus journey from Delhi. From there, our trek organiser was ready with a Traveller. So, began our 10-hour scenic ride to Joshimath. Himalayas in monsoon are a beauty of a different level.

On the entire route, we were going alongside either Ganga or one of its tributaries. On our way came Rudraprayag, Devprayag, Karnprayag and Vishnuprayag. And as we entered the mountains of Chamoli district, we were simply left awed by the beauty of the valleys.

By evening we reached Himalayan Echolodges camp - somewhere between Auli and Joshimath. We got to stay in a tent had one of the most peaceful sleep of our lives.

Devprayag
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River ganga
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Beautiful vistas en route
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Karnaprayag
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Day 2 - Joshimath to Ghangharia

Our tent in Joshimath
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Trek to Ghangharia starts from Pulna village. To reach there, we first went to Govidghat which is a 1-hour drive from Joshimath. From there we hired a local vehicle we reached Pulna.

With such clouds on the way, you cannot help feeling heavenly
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At Govindghat
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Ghangharia from Pulna is a 10 km trek. We had two bags weighing 6 kgs and we carried them ourselves, ie, did not opt for a porter. We wanted to be as self-sustained at possible and also prepare for more difficult treks we wanted to explore.

The path was well laid out and the entire trek was beautiful in its way. Mountains were covered with waterfalls, the river was flowing beside the path. Halfway through it also started to rain and the weather turned even better.

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By evening we were at Ghangharia. Extremely tired and all wet, we quickly had tea and pakoras and then went to our rooms and took rest.

Day 3 - Valley of Flowers

It had rained all night but in the morning the weather was clear. We were lucky. Weather is unpredictable in the mountains. The very next day valley was closed because of heavy rainfall.

We began at around 7 AM. Valley is open from 8 AM - 5 PM. Valley extends for 10 km and if you want to explore as much as you can, you need to start early.

There is a check-post about 1 km from Ghangharia where you need to buy entrance tickets. Our guide had already arranged for them. So, after the check-post, our trek began.

The trek itself was splendid. A variety of flowers can be seen from the very beginning. Trek runs through dense forests and open areas. It is gradual in the beginning and quite steep as we go higher.

Pushpawati river
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After about 3 - 4km valley starts and you can see what you had never even imagined. In our case, the weather had turned bad as we reached the valley. Still, we could see flowers as far as we could see.

I will let the pictures talk.

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After going into the valley for about an hour, we were all tired and planning to head back. Right then, our guide met us and asked us to at least go to Pushpawati river bed. You have come this far, push a little further. So we did! And my god, I could not believe what we would have missed if we had gone back!

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It took us 5 hours struggle in bus, 10 hours drive, 10 km trek on day 1 and 7 km trek on day 2 to reach that place on earth. But, that moment of being at that place on earth is something we will never forget for our lifetime. It was more than worth all the pain!!!

As soon as we reached the bed, the rain had started again. It was getting late so we could not spend much time there. We wanted to spend forever there but had to return after just 10-15 mins.

Last edited by shashankjain16 : 20th September 2019 at 00:17.
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Old 19th September 2019, 22:10   #2
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Day 4 - Hemkund Sahib

Sorry, it was raining all daily and could not click many pics. This video mainly tells our experience.



Hemkund Sahib is a holy pilgrimage for Sikhs - a Gurudwara beside Hemkund lake at an altitude of 4320m.

Basecamp for this to is Ghangharia and just 500m Ghangharia route divides - one goes to Valley of Flowers and other one goes to Hemkund Sahib.

Trek to his holy shrine is about 6km which is a steep climb throughout.

Already tired from last day's trek, we knew this was going to be a daunting task. The rain which started the late-night and hadn't stopped since added to the worries. Some trekkers in our group cancelled the attempt, but we were not going to give up after coming so far.

So began the highest climb of our lives till date. Initial 1km we were all full of energy. As the climb progressed, we became slower with every step. The rain did not stop even for a second.

After 3kms we were quite exhausted. Still, half of the trek was left. One kilometre more into the trek we started feeling lack of oxygen. It had grown extremely cold and water had crept in everywhere. Our shoes had become swimming pools.

On our way came a big water crossing which was being fed by a glacier. Water flow was scary-strong and there was no bridge over it (see the video). We somehow managed to cross it safely.

Glacier on route to Hemkund Sahib
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Now we had started hearing guruwani from speakers in the gurudwara. The destination was close!!! Lack of oxygen felt more than ever. I had started having a headache.

Bhraham Kamal Flower
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The Himalayan Queen - Blue Poppy
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However, as soon as we reached the top - it was magical. That view of the lake surrounded by waterfalls on all sides and gurudwara beside it was surreal!

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Upon reaching there, we washed our frozen hands with hot water and then enjoyed a cup of tea and hot khichdi. Those were lifesavers!!!

Finally, we sat in the gurudwara and enjoyed some moments of peace.

Conclusion

In all, we trekked about 50kms in 4 days and collected some memories that we will never forget. A dream trip which was no less than a dream!

Last edited by shashankjain16 : 19th September 2019 at 22:24.
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Old 20th September 2019, 00:19   #3
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Default Re: Trek to Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th September 2019, 06:27   #4
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Default Re: Trek to Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

I used to visit Sri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara and Valley of Flowers annually from 1979 to 1981. Then after a long gap I revisited in 1995 and was shocked to see the change from good to bad.

The entire trek was full of eateries stalls. Look downhill, beautiful serpentine river flowing - a beautiful view now obscured by litter .... Fruitee Tetrapacks, Chips Pouches, Juice Bottles

That was my last trip as I vowed NEVER to go back again as I am witness to murder of the valley.
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Old 20th September 2019, 10:20   #5
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Default Re: Trek to Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amrik Singh View Post
The entire trek was full of eateries stalls. Look downhill, beautiful serpentine river flowing - a beautiful view now obscured by litter .... Fruitee Tetrapacks, Chips Pouches, Juice Bottles
The situation is much better now. The locals have created an organization that takes initiative of keeping the route clean. There are sweepers throughout. And route is quite clean. There are piles of garbage collected at some places, however, litter is not scattered all through the valley. The route to the valley of flowers is especially quite clean and feels untouched.
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Old 20th September 2019, 12:22   #6
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Default Re: Trek to Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

The desire to drop everything at once and take off to the mountains gets higher with every log like this. Mountains are my go to place even someone asks me in the dreams.

Great log and what an amazing place to be ! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 20th September 2019, 12:30   #7
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Nice Travelogue. The pictures are amazing. Would you recommend doing this trek without an agency or a guide?
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Old 20th September 2019, 12:42   #8
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Originally Posted by MBond007 View Post
Nice Travelogue. The pictures are amazing. Would you recommend doing this trek without an agency or a guide?
Yes, the trek can be done without an agency or guide. Paths are clearly laid out and there are ample food and stay facilities. Also, a lot of people do this trek in peak seasons so there will be help available in case anything goes wrong.
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Old 20th September 2019, 12:53   #9
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I am fortunate enough to have hiked to VOF twice, but that was way back in 2007 and 2009 when there were no Decathlons and hiking gear was a territory for pure trekkers. Forget shoes, my first visit to the valley was done in floaters. We bought sticks with pointed metal cones as hiking sticks and one polythene rain jacket for 15 rupees each from Govindghat and that was it. I remember the trek was tough and last 3 kms was really a mental game. The stay at Ghagaria was also nothing to talk about and we had to stay put in a stinking and moist room as there were limited options. The next day trek to valley was a pure bliss though with thighs that were totally stiff with last days trek. I can imagine why some of your fellow trekkers did not hike to Hemkund Sahib the next day!!

Due to Hemkund Sahib pilgrimage along with more awareness about the VOF, this section is getting more and more congested and loosing its charm. Another section to explore nearby would be Gopeshwar-Rudranath trek that goes through jungles, streams, and flower valleys similar to valley of flowers. It hardly gets visitors and am sure would equal or surpass your VOF experience. If possible try to make it on your next travel wish list!!
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Old 20th September 2019, 13:11   #10
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Default Re: Trek to Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand

Quote:
Originally Posted by shashankjain16 View Post
The situation is much better now. The locals have created an organization that takes initiative of keeping the route clean. There are sweepers throughout. And route is quite clean. There are piles of garbage collected at some places, however, litter is not scattered all through the valley. The route to the valley of flowers is especially quite clean and feels untouched.
Thanks for this travelogue. A couple of weeks back, I went on a family trip to Badrinath. At Govind ghat, I saw people going towards Valley of Flowers and Hemkund. I was wondering what it would take to trek to VOF. And I saw this post! Looks so beautiful to trek amidst mountains, valleys, rivers, and flowers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick Avi View Post
I am fortunate enough to have hiked to VOF twice, but that was way back in 2007 and 2009 when there were no Decathlons and hiking gear was a territory for pure trekkers. Forget shoes, my first visit to the valley was done in floaters. We bought sticks with pointed metal cones as hiking sticks and one polythene rain jacket for 15 rupees each from Govindghat and that was it. I remember the trek was tough and last 3 kms was really a mental game. The stay at Ghagaria was also nothing to talk about and we had to stay put in a stinking and moist room as there were limited options. The next day trek to valley was a pure bliss though with thighs that were totally stiff with last days trek. I can imagine why some of your fellow trekkers did not hike to Hemkund Sahib the next day!!

Due to Hemkund Sahib pilgrimage along with more awareness about the VOF, this section is getting more and more congested and loosing its charm. Another section to explore nearby would be Gopeshwar-Rudranath trek that goes through jungles, streams, and flower valleys similar to valley of flowers. It hardly gets visitors and am sure would equal or surpass your VOF experience. If possible try to make it on your next travel wish list!!
Thanks for sharing this trek route. Looks beautiful.
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Old 20th September 2019, 22:56   #11
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I am not a trekking person. I am fine with short treks but not the ones that take days. Your travelogue has completely changed my views on trekking. Your vlog is amazing, watched it on TV. Even for a 1080p, the clarity was amazing and the camera has captured the minutest details. The best thing about mobiles these days is that they capture the video with the quality levels on par with conventional cameras.
The Pushpavathi river bed looks both awe-inspiring and scary at the same time.
Thank you for putting an informative travelogue and a wonderful video.

Last edited by Abhinav V : 20th September 2019 at 22:57.
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Old 24th September 2019, 19:12   #12
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Hello Friends,

Great travelogue @Shashankjain16!
I have some queries for a day trip to Kedarnath. As this post is the most recent one on Uttarakhand, I am using it to get some prompt response from people familiar to the region.
I will be visiting Auli for 3 nights/two days in the first week of October, and would like to visit Kedarnath during the stay. My queries:

1. Is it possible to visit the temple in Kedarnath on a day trip from Auli?
2. If yes, please provide me the route details and any other necessary information. I will have a car with me.
3. I will be accompanied by my wife and my 6 years old son. If we plan to trek to the Kedarnath shrine, what is the trekking distance, and how difficult will it be for a 6 years old?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 26th September 2019, 16:30   #13
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Quote:
1. Is it possible to visit the temple in Kedarnath on a day trip from Auli?
2. If yes, please provide me the route details and any other necessary information. I will have a car with me.
3. I will be accompanied by my wife and my 6 years old son. If we plan to trek to the Kedarnath shrine, what is the trekking distance, and how difficult will it be for a 6 years old?
I can try answering some of your questions. From Auli, you have to come back towards Chamoli and head towards Guptkashi and then finally reach Gaurikund from where the trek starts. This entire area is highly landslide prone and if you do not encounter any landslide(which is highly improbable) then you would take close to 7 hours. Post that the trek to Kedarnath would not be feasible in a single day for sure as its close to 15 Kms and quite steep at some places. The trek alone would consume 6-8 hours one way. I would not recommend you to divert your attention to Kedarnath trek given that you only have 3 days to spend in Auli.

I have done all my trips to these areas using local transport as it provides more flexibility. If there is a landslide then just walk across to the other side and pick up a bus or shared taxi further. Thats how life goes on there. Having your personal vehicle proves to be more of a liability in such terrains.

Not to mention that you would find untouched heavens in these treacherous mountains and if you are able to spare more days then Gopeshwar-Rudranath, Tungnath, Valley of Flower treks would provide you with a far scenic and enriching experience than Auli!!
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