Some experiences happen to you by chance while some you make happen to yourself and I made one happen to me by clinching a long cherished dream of visiting the Valley of Flowers. Despite all the odds that were against the trip- be it the ominous news of heavy rains or the uninvited landslides in the higher Himalayas- calling off the trip was not in the option. There were many reasons not to go but only one reason to continue- my indiscriminate and absolute love for mountains.
Day 1 Delhi–Haridwar-Auli
Day 2 Auli-Govindghat- Pulna- Ghangaria trek
Day 3 Ghangaria – Valley Of Flowers- Ghangaria
Day 4 Ghangaria – Hemkund Sahib- Ghangaria
Day 5 Ghangaria – Govindghat- Badrinath- Manna- Auli
Day 6 Auli- Haridwar- Delhi
The journey to the Paradise (our worldly yet heavenly abode) began on 21 July when we (Palak, Manisha, Vikas, Mandeep and me) boarded the overnight train for Haridwar.
At Haridwar, we were to meet the rest of our gang. We were expecting a bunch of physically fit youngsters and what we came across was a surprising batch of folks of all age groups, older ones who had already done a couple of treks before, newly married couples(hardly 3-4 years in marriage), solo trekkers and the younger ones.
Meeting the group was a remarkable experience as everybody was of diverse backgrounds and locations. Here, meet my travel buddies –
So, the first day started with the GIO Adventure’s team picking us up from Haridwar railway station at around 7 in the morning and off we were(a group of 19 odd people), in two tempo travelers.
The road from Rishikesh ran alongside the river Ganges flowing among the majestic Himalayas. Yet again, witnessing this scene, is like wandering into a peaceful reverie(my previous post on the same route for Auli can be found here).
Soon after, we ran into Devprayag- the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi where the Ganga comes into existence. The contrast of two joining rivers was striking with the Bhagirathi in slightly bluish tone and the Alaknanda, muddy white(due to rainy season). My eyes, like the rest of me, were mesmerized by that picturesque setting.
Later we passed through Rudraprayag, the confluence of Mandakini and Alakananda and at the end through Karnaprayag-a beautiful small town at the confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar Ganga river.
ON THE WAY TO AULI
“Yeh kaha aa gaye hum, yuhi sath chalte chalte..” ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
It started drizzling once we crossed Vishnuprayag and nothing reminds me of the taste of hot, crispy ‘pakoras‘ more than the scent of earth after the rains. We reached our lodge at around 6 in the evening and served with tea/coffee and exactly the pakoras I was yearning for 😛
We lounged in the balcony enjoying the weather with the view of the Himalayas. Everybody was high on thoughts when our guide called us for the dinner. Dinner was no less delicious and the custard was a perfect closure to it. After dinner, we threw ourselves in the bed and talked about philosophy, nature, weather and what not.
AULI- GOVINDGHAT – PULNA
“Yeh haseen vadiya, Yeh khula aasmaan…” ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
The second day of our trip unfolded with a yummilicious breakfast served by our host at Himalayan Ecolodge, Auli.
The first milestone for today was to reach Govindghat and get the registration done for each one of us quickly. This registration process consisted of sharing your name and getting your photograph taken through a webcam.
In a minute or so, we’re on the road passing through the gorges, in which nestled the creek, attracting all the admiration of travelers including me.
Whereupon, I could see on my left the range of black mountains drenched in morning dew and rain, covered in green velvety grass. To my right another mountain range, looking down to our diminutive figures. In between flowed the river- madly, fearlessly, curving with each turn of the mountain.
We reached Govindghat in about 40 mins of scenic route and everyone(except our guides) unloaded their luggage from the traveler and loaded it on the mules. After the floods of 2013, first 4 km of the trek between Govindghat and Ghangaria is made motor-able. As a result, we’re to take yet another drive of 15-20 minutes to start our trek. We parted with Alaknanda only to get going towards one of its tributaries- Laxman Ganga.
PULNA TO GHANGARIA
“Kaisi hai yeh rut ki jismein phool manke dil khile…” ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
The trek to the Valley of Flowers begins from the hamlet of Pulna, about 4 km from Govindghat. Pulna’s residents also live in another village, Bhyundar, which is 7 km upstream. During the summer they migrate to their homes in Bhyundar, and return in winter to Pulna.
The trek passes through a mildly dense forest- a well-laid path that runs along but slightly higher vis-à-vis the Laxman Ganga. First 200 m of the trek was muddy, keeping hills on left and valley on the right. I couldn’t see the river but my ears sensed its presence down somewhere in the hills.
We gradually started our climb, took some warm-up clicks while getting to know each other better. Here, we got the glimpse of the waterfall where trees cleared.
With pit stops for tea, amazing conversations and beautiful vistas, we finally reached Bhyundar- a small village. All around Bhyundar valley is a magnificent panorama of the clean water, pebbles, the river finding its course among the scattered boulders and the blue sky up above. The entire setting made it difficult for us to leave this place.
Then comes the river crossing, followed by a steep climb of 3 km up to Ghangaria. By now it was evening and the clouds were dangling over mountains as if they have returned back to home after all day wandering in the blue sky.
I read this kilometer marker stating viewpoint 300 m ahead and then all of a sudden in just a few steps, nature has opened up for us along with the mighty Himalayas and water streams coming out of nowhere.
This clear stretch with a beautiful view of the mountains and a waterfall was heart-stoppingly beautiful. I just sat down on the rock and thought to myself “Welcome to Ghangaria”
Evening at the hotel in Ghangaria followed the same routine and we were served with tea/coffee and pakoras for the snacks. Post dinner, we headed back to our room where everybody else joined us for playing UNO. Amidst laughter and hell lot of cheating, we didn’t realize that enough time has been passed and then decided to call it a night sensing the D-day awaiting us the next day.
I overheard people saying “these scenes looks like a painting”. Wait! wait! wait! What comes first? A painting or an actual piece of natural wonder. So, I would rather say, all the paintings of this world looked inspired by the landscape, riverscape, cloudscape, cityscape, and townscape we saw that day.
A few experiences so subtle in nature yet so deep that they touch your soul forever. It was the similar kind. As they say “Kahin pe pahunchne ke liye kahin se nikalna bohot zaruri hota hai”. So, get up and try your legs on this super awesome trek.
Have you been to Valley of flowers? Which season was it? Are you still planning on it? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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~Edited by: Vikas Bhatt