Do you wish to experience a monsoon trek of a lifetime? Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand, is the perfect picturesque destination to fulfill your desire. Furthermore, it’s the journey where you seek blessings from the holy Ganges and trek up to the highest Gurudwara of the world.
On my most recent trek excursion, I sought the most treasured and once in a lifetime experience. The Valley of Flowers is a place where the words fall short to describe its beauty, its essence and charm. It demands us to trek through the most difficult paths leading towards the beauty of it.
July is the best month to trek into the Valley of Flowers. Specially known for one of the best monsoon treks, expect your trek to be a one of kind. Through drizzling rains to crossing tumbling waterfalls down the Himalayas, you adventure through the hills of Uttarakhand.
For me to live in the midst of Himalayas, witness the auspicious Ganga aarti in Haridwar, enjoy the adventurous trek enroute Ghangria and visit Hemkund Sahib (the highest gurudwara) is what fulfilled the trek to Valley of flowers. The actual trek is of 3-4 days and a week is enough for the whole trip (including Haridwar and Rishikesh).
Valley of Flowers is a national park and also a UNESCO site located in Uttarakhand, India. Established in 1982, Valley of Flowers, which is known for the flowers in bloom consists of around 600 species. Himalayan bell flowers, orchids, poppies, daisies, primulas, bramha kamal, vajardanti, machali, inuri, anemone, rhododendron, sub-alphine forests birch, snake flower, wild thyme, etc. are few of the exotic flowers to name.
I went on this seven day trek excursion with my parents and we loved each day of this trip together. We booked flights from Pune to Delhi and back. I booked a taxi from Delhi airport to Haridwar. Here’s our itinerary, travel tips, things to do and everything you need to consider before you plan your next trip to the Valley of Flowers.
Trek to Valley of Flowers: The Beginning
Day 1: Haridwar
Haridwar is a city known for ‘Gateway to Gods’ and the spirit is influential and sacred in the Hindu mythology. A day in Haridwar, starts with seeking blessing from temples. The best part of a day in Haridwar is to witness Ganga aarti which happens at 6:00-7:00pm daily on the edges of Har Ki Pauri (holy steps).
With diyas lighting in the evening to hundreds of tourists including foreigners attending the aarti, the atmosphere fulfills our hearts with a deep affection towards Ganga River. For me the spirit of Ganges is so influential, that this became an experience of a lifetime.
Tip: As Ganga is considered a sacred river, don’t forget to take a small can of water home.
Day 2: Drive to Joshimath
Joshimath is a beautiful destination in Uttarakhand and was also the base meet of our trek. More than this serene town encompassing the young Himalayan mountains, the journey from Haridwar to Joshimath is even more mesmerizing.
Just when you leave Haridwar and unfold the tipsy curvy road towards Joshimath, that is when the best time of the excursion begins. Listen to lord Shiva’s playlist and feel the jingles in the air, that is the time you start feeling the presence of Devbhoomi i.e., Uttarakhand.
This is the time when the gorgeous landscape of the Himalayan mountains starts surprising you with scenic beauty. As you travel for around 275kms to reach Joshimath, you should stop by Devprayag to see Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers meet each other and thereafter flow on as river Ganga. Then as you near the town of Joshimath, perceive the chills in the atmosphere as the breeze changes and makes you realize that you are now in the lapse of Himalayas.
Day 3: The Trek begins to Ghangria
On Day 3, you proceed from Joshimath to Poolna, where you get started with your 9 kms long uphill trek. Immerse into the nature as you walk along the river Lakshman Ganga throughout your trek. The nature slowly unveils its secrets enroute the base camp i.e., Ghangria. Believe me, it never stops pleasing us even in monsoon drizzles.
Meanwhile, as you trek for approximately 5 hours, the journey energizes you. Frequent rain showers and sometimes sun peeking through the trees give you the perfect candid shots for your gallery.
Enroute the trek you encounter a lot of dhabas where you take a breather while you ascend through the mountains. After a trek of 9kms, you reach a small one lane town of Ghangria encircled in Himalayan mountains. Ghangria is a town full of tourists, local cuisine and enthusiastic trekkers.
For me, the day was undoubtedly filled with a lot of adrenaline rushing as the insanity you live in these moments is just so pure! Don’t forget to rest well as the best part of the trek starts the very next day.
Day 4: Trek to the Valley of Flowers
As nervous as I was to climb up to the Valley of Flowers, the excitement doubled when I started trekking for 5kms up the craziest trails. The beauty of Valley of Flowers starts along the trek itself. With more than 500 flower species, the view is breathtaking. The glimpse of blooming little flowers encourages you throughout the trek.
Even though it is not an easy ascend, you tend to enjoy every moment of it with the trekkers you meet on the way. I fall short on words because the destination is worth all the sweat. Lakhs of flowers bloom all the way and Himalayan glaciers peek through and that is what sums up Valley of Flowers.
Flowers pose with us for the most picturesque moments with waterfalls running down in the background. For me to leave the Valley of Flowers was the toughest part, you never wish to leave the heaven once you’re there, right?
At the end of the day, you trek down to Ghangria, the base camp. This is not the end of it, the trek to Hemkund Sahib, highest situated gurudwara has a lot of new hues to bring in your trek.
Day 5: Hemkund Sahib- The Paradise of Uttarakhand
You wake up early morning to the rhythmic chants of bhajan from the only gurudwara in Ghangria. The trek to Hemkund Sahib is another highlight of the excursion and a bit difficult to achieve with its steep and 6kms long ascend. Remember even if it feels difficult to make through the trek, your mind is the biggest motivator at times like these. I won’t crib about this one, but when I felt as if it’s almost impossible to complete the whole of the trek, looking at my parents brought me energy.
Gurudwara closes at 1pm, so be sure to start your trek early, you must reach in time to seek blessings and the view to the prettiest situated lake in front of it. (Warning! They don’t let in anyone who visits past 1pm, no matter what).
Even though the trek is exhausting, the view wonderstruck with the Hemkund lake’s view and gurudwara surround by snow-capped mountains. Spend some time meditating, look at its interior and enjoy the eternal lake. The clouds hang on from beneath the sky like fluffy cotton candy.
Remember to take some delicious prasad and in the late afternoon, start the steep descent all the way back to Ghangria as the weather here can be impulsive with sudden cloud cover and rains. At the end of the day, your camera will be filled with photos, and you fulfilled with memories of a lifetime.
Don’t forget to take a sip and fill your water bottle with fresh water off the waterfalls enroute.
Day 6: Immortal Badrinath
Day 6 marks the last day of the trek and you descend towards the base, Poolna. From Poolna we decided to seek blessing of Badrinath, one of the char dhams (4 holy sites). At the border of China/Tibet lies the last Indian village, Mana. Mana which lies on the banks of river Saraswati is a small detour to explore a small town nestled in the Himalayas.
After visiting Mana, Badrinath is an eternal Hindu pilgrimage located in the Chamoli district at the height of 3133m. I was lucky enough to be there on the day of Janmashtami with surprisingly less crowd.
Unlike the other days of extreme climatic conditions, we experienced a pleasant day at Badrinath dedicated to God Vishnu. What a graceful end to an exhilarating trek, isn’t it?
Day 7: Enroute Rishikesh
Rishikesh marks the end of the journey, but not to forget the journey advancing to Rishikesh is magnificient. Moreover, you know what calls attention throughout the journey? River Ganga which sometimes plays peek-a-boo as if it tries to make conversation with you.
In the company of extreme moods from the climate, the journey back can be a lot more adventurous. Debris fall as the frequent landslides in the monsoon season affect the roads of Uttarakhand, so be careful.
Once you finally reach Rishikesh don’t forget to visit the Lakshman Jhula, Ram Jhula, river rafting, iconic bungee jumping and the most popular Beatles ashram. I took back a bundle of memories with me and the feeling of being the most alive when I travel.
Things to Pack
- Rain jackets or ponchos
- Rain cover for bagpacks
- Fleece jackets and thermals
- Backpack of around 50-60 liters
- Day pack of 20-30 liters
- Hiking shoes
- Dry fit cargo pants and top wear (4 sets)
- Water bottles or hydration pack
- Caps and sunglasses
- Glucose, energy bars
- Medical kit prescribed by the trekking company
- Moisturizer, lip balm, cold cream
- Hiking pole (optional)
- Most importantly identity card which is required at the post of Valley of Flowers
Dos and Don’ts
- Regular walking or sports shoes don’t really work on treks like these. It is better to carry mountaineering or hiking shoes as the trek leads you through a tough path.
- Eat healthy because one bad meal can spoil your entire journey.
- Make sure you increase your endurance and start exercises like cycling, running etc. to stay fit before you start the trek.
- Don’t expect a luxurious stay at the base camp i.e., Ghangria.
- Don’t consume alcohol or smoke as it is prohibited by the trekking company during the 4 main days of trek.
- Expect walking on wet slippery paths.
- Due to heavy rains, Valley of Flowers may or may not be closed but the flowering depends on heavy rains.
- There are no vehicles at any point of the trek, make sure you are fit enough trek up.
- Your kids can accompany if they are above 8 years.
Travel Tips for Valley of Flowers
- Trek to Valley of Flowers is a moderately tough trek and its always a good idea to join a trekking company or group while planning it.
- Stay hydrated.
- Don’t expect luxury throughout the trek, the hotels are not so good but good enough to fulfill the basic requirements.
- Travel light and keep minimal things and clothes only as required.
- Consumption of alcohol or smoking is very dangerous on treks like these.
- If you are unable to climb after few hours, you have the option to hire a horse or a human carrier. They are available throughout the whole trek (except the one to the Hemkund Sahib).
Things to Do
- As the trek is scheduled in the monsoon season, you must carry rainproof jackets and covers.
- Treks are tiresome, make sure you take enough rest before and after the trek so that you let the body cool down.
- Badrinath and Kedarnath are one of the best detours if you are up to spend more days in Himalayas.
- Rishikesh has a lot of adventurous rides to offer like bungee jumping, giant swing, river rafting on the Ganges, etc.
Bidding Goodbye to the Valley of Flowers
Valley of Flowers is not just a trek, but a beautiful journey in which faith drives the spirit. It is a self-reflective journey for some and gratitude for many. I believe, ‘You are never alone with the nature’ and that sums up my trip. You feel the most alive in the mountains of Uttarakhand.
I hope my guide to Valley of Flowers will be helpful for planning your excursion. Comment down your queries and I will try to be useful for you. We’d love to see your pictures in the Valley of Flowers so do tag us @shilpaahujadotcom on Instagram and we’d love to catch up with your experience too.
I write this piece in the memory of Valley of Flowers. I relive each moment when I look at the beautiful images. The goodbyes are tough, especially Uttarakhand, you were too good to me. Until next time.
Ramani is a Fashion Journalist at ShilpaAhuja.com. She is currently pursuing B.Design specializing in Fashion Communication from School of Fashion Technology, Pune.
Prior to SAM, she worked as a strategic content creator for House of Aadyaa and as a design associate for Tranzevo, New Zealand. She is also the co-founder of “The House of Yeehaws” a venture spreading the importance of sustainability in a wider society. She is a strong proponent of sustainability in fashion.
For her, writing is a true form of expression. An ambivert by personality, she finds people to be the most interesting subject. A keen learner and an even more keen observer, photography engages and fascinates her. Her motto is ‘ Dreams don’t work unless you do’.
She is also a passionate footballer and a soon-to-be a Kathak graduate. She enjoys traveling, experiencing and learning new things in her free time. Her motive is to contribute to the exciting industry of fashion and be the growth she wishes to achieve.