About Valley of Flowers
Situated at a height of about 3500 m, Valley of Flowers National Park is one of the most beautiful locations in Uttarakhand and is certainly not an easy place to reach. Due to an abundance of flora variety, this place is also popularly known as a UNESCO World Heritage site and often sees numerous botanists and researchers every year who are curious to learn more about this magical place.
This high-altitude Himalayan valley is also the home of endemic alpine flowers and several endangered animals like snow leopard, musk deer, blue sheep, Asiatic black bear, and so on. Discovered in 1931 by a few British mountaineers, the Valley of Flowers has become a popular trek for nature lovers and mountaineers and is one of the major attractions in India.
If you are planning a trip to this amazing place, then this guide can help you plan the details thoroughly to have a safe time here.
Best Time to Visit the Valley of Flowers
The first thing that you need to know about the Valley of Flowers is that it stays closed for the most part of the year, during the winter and half summer season. Why?
Because the valley is covered with snow which makes it slightly difficult to make your way here. Also, since this place is best known for its flora and fauna, the snow-covered valley isn’t really the ideal time to admire the wide variety of flora here.
So, if you are planning a trip to the Valley of Flowers, make sure that you plan it between 1st June and mid-October when the valley actually stays open. During this duration, the best time to visit the Valley of Flowers to see a variety of colorful flowers is between mid-July and mid-August.
From the end of August, the flowers start wilting and there isn’t a huge variety of colorful flower species anymore.
How to Reach Valley of Flowers
Unlike most other treks, Valley of Flowers cannot be completed in a day. This is because this trek starts from the Ghangharia village which is another 10-12 km hike from Govindghat village and would take around 3-4 hours to reach.
This is the detailed route that you can follow to reach the Valley of Flowers Entrance gate.
To start your Valley of Flowers trek, you would first need to reach Joshimath or Govindghat. There is a direct bus from Rishikesh to Badrinath which stops on the way to Joshimath and Govindghat as well and takes around 9-10 hours to reach. The bus will cost around 400-450 INR and there are 2-3 buses in the morning which ply through this route.
If you don’t get a direct bus then you can also take a bus till Chamoli Gopeshwar for 300 INR and then get a shared cab till Joshimath here. From Joshimath, you will get shared cabs till Govindghat which will take about 40-45 minutes to reach.
Govindghat to Ghangharia
Once you reach Govindghat, you will need to trek till the Ghangaria village which is the starting point of this trek. You can cover the first 4 km in a shared cab and reach the Pulna village.
From Pulna village, it is around a 10 km trek to the Ghangaria village which will take about 3-5 hours, depending on your stamina and physique. You can also hire a mule here to complete the journey which will cost 500 INR for one side.
Ghangharia to Valley of Flowers
From Ghangaria, you have to trek for 1 km before you come across the Valley of Flowers entrance gate where you can purchase the ticket. The ticket price is 250 INR and is valid for 3 days entry.
From this ticket post, you have to trek for another 3-3.5 km before you enter the flower enclosure.
Things to Do in Valley of Flowers
A lot of people think that the Valley of Flowers is a just a 1-2 hour visit which is quite untrue because there is a lot to explore and do here. The Valley of Flowers National Park stretches over a length of 8 km and a width of 2 km so you can easily spend 4-5 hours, exploring the landscape here.
Here are a few things that you can do to get the complete feel of this UNESCO heritage site.
Identify the Different Variety of Flowers and Plants Here
The Valley of Flowers National Park is home to hundreds of types of flowers, some of which are not found at any other place apart from this valley. So, if you are a nature lover or botany enthusiast then identifying the different types of flowers present here could turn out to be something fun and informative.
You could also simply take pictures of the different kinds of flowers which you come across here and learn more about that flower variety for a better idea. A few of the varieties which you are likely to find here includes the Blue Poppy, Stem Clasping Ligularia, Greater Dodder, Bellflower, Himalayan snowberry, Red Robin, and so on.
Walk to the Tipra Glacier Point
Located at a distance of 3 km from the Valley of Flowers entrance, Tipra Glacier Point is a must visit place here. It would take you around an hour and a half to reach this place once you have entered the Valley of Flowers enclosure but it would be completely worth the effort.
Here, you will be able to see the glacier from where the Pushpawati river flows and you can spend some time at the river bank as well. Trust me, this is one of the most beautiful spots in the valley which should definitely not be missed.
Take a Detour to the Legge’s Grave
In 1939, Joan Margaret Legge, a botanist from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew arrived in the valley to learn about the flowers here. Unfortunately, while trying to collect the flowers, she slipped on some rocks and died here. Later, her sister arrived in the valley to prepare a memorial for her here.
So, you can take a detour to her grave while heading to the Tipra Glacier Point and spend some time enjoying the quietness of this valley.
Take Lots of Photographs of the Landscape
This place offers you the most amazing and colorful views so, make sure that you take full advantage of it. Take out your camera or mobile phones to snap away so that you can cherish the memories of this place forever.
You might not be able to capture the true essence of this place but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a token of remembrance for this magical valley.
Food Options in Valley of Flowers
On the way to Ghangaria and in the Ghangharia village, you would find a lot of local dhabas and cafes to enjoy a scrumptious meal. You will get Paranthas, Maggi, snacks, hot tea, coffee, etc. on the trek to Ghangaria and proper meals in the village too.
Another option would be to have the langar at the Gurudwara situated here which is free yet delicious.
However, once you start for the Valley of Flowers trek from Ghangaria, you won’t find any food stall on the way. So, make sure you pack your lunch before starting the trek and carry a few energy bars and snacks for the way. Purchasing snacks, chocolates, etc. in Ghangaria would be costly so, get your provisions from the plains.
As for water, get your bottle and fill it before you start the Ghangaria trek. On the way to Ghangaria, you will come across a few waterfalls and streams from where you can refill the water or you can drink water from one of the food stalls on the way. For the Valley of Flowers, you can refill the water from the numerous waterfalls that you will cross on the way.
Accommodation Options in Valley of Flowers
The starting point for the Valley of Flowers trek is Ghangaria where you can choose to stay in a hotel, camp, or the gurudwara. There are many decent hotels and homestays in Ghangaria which you would get for 200 – 400 INR for a night but expect the most basic amenities here.
If you have your own tent then you can also camp near the village and enjoy a night under the starry sky. However, it can get quite cold at night so make sure you have enough warm clothing and jackets to keep you warm.
One of the best options for staying in Ghangaria is the local Gurudwara where you can avail a warm room with a bed along with a few blankets. However, it depends on the availability so if the private rooms are filled, you might have to make do with their dormitories.
Itinerary for Valley of Flowers
Here is a sample itinerary of 4-5 days which you can refer to when planning a trip to this valley.
Reach Rishikesh via train, flight or bus and then head to Joshimath. From Joshimath, move further to Govindghat which is the starting point of your trek.
After reaching Govindghat, relax and sleep for the night.
Start early today for the Ghangaria village. Take the shared cab till Pulna village from where you would need to trek another 10-11 km.
Once you have reached Ghangaria, rest for a while and then explore the village and the landscape here.
Start early for the Valley of Flowers trek today and carry some lunch and snacks with you. After reaching the Valley of Flowers enclosure, sit for a refreshing lunch and then explore the area.
Start heading back to the Ghangaria village around 3-4 p.m. and then relax and spend a night at the village.
Start for the descend from the Ghangaria village which will take about 3-4 hours to complete. After reaching the Pulna village, head to Govindghat and then back to Rishikesh.
Take a flight, train or bus to your final destination.
Important Tips for Valley of Flowers Trek
Although Valley of Flowers trek can be attempted alone because the path is marked clearly and there are a lot of trek groups on this route from July to September, it is always good to be careful and prepared.
So, here are a few tips to make sure that you have a safe trekking experience in this popular valley.
- Avoid trekking alone on the Valley of Flowers path as it might be dangerous if you get hurt with no one around to help you. You can go to Ghangaria solo because you would come across several other trekkers and pilgrims on the way. However, make sure that you check up the timing with the trek groups who are planning for the Valley of Flowers or become friends with other solo travelers so that you aren’t alone when going to the valley.
- Don’t stand too close to the edges as you could easily slip here and get hurt. Since the Valley of Flowers is a monsoon trek, you have to be extra careful while trekking on this route. Don’t take selfies on the way and be careful while stopping midway on the trek.
- Carry your own First Aid kit so that if you get hurt, you can properly clean it up and put medicine on it for healing. And do carry your medications because there aren’t many shops in Ghangaria so special medications might be difficult to procure here.
- Make sure that you carry a raincoat or a windcheater with you when embarking on this trek. As this trek is done during the monsoon time, you will have to walk a lot when it is raining. So, a raincoat or a windcheater can protect you from getting wet or catching cold.
- Pack yourself lunch from the village and take some snacks for the way too. As mentioned earlier, you won’t find any food stalls on the way so better be prepared and carry your own food here. Also, carry a bottle which you can refill from the waterfalls that you find on the way.
- Get warm clothes and jackets for the trek as it gets really cold sometimes. You can also get waterproof shirts and pants which are useful for the trek as you don’t have to carry a lot of clothes and don’t have to worry about getting wet too.
- Also, make sure that you withdraw cash beforehand because there is no ATM at Ghangaria. So, withdraw some cash from Govindghat or preferably, Rishikesh itself else you would face a lot of problems here. There is no network too so you won’t be able to Paytm too.
- Make sure that you also inform your parents and friends that you won’t be available on calls for the next few days. There is no network at the top so if your family and friends don’t know, they might start worrying about you. So, make all the calls before reaching Govindghat.