Guest blogger Mridula Dwivedi shares her photos and experiences of a trip to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkunt Sahib Trek, Uttarakhand in Uttarakhand with us.
If you would ask me what my favourite type of holiday is, I would have no hesitation in saying trekking every time. Recently I trekked through Valley of Flowers (3658 meters, 12001 feet) and Hemkunt Sahib (4329 meters, 14202 feet) in the state of Uttarakhand, India.
The Chamoli region is not so easy to reach. I landed up at Haridwar when the Kanwaria Festival was in full flow and for a while I thought I would get stuck at Haridwar! But I managed to get out and reach Rishikesh the same day. From there I took a bus to Joshimath at 4.00 am next day and reached Joshimath at 2.00 pm completely tired. A friend calls this bit ‘bone crunching’ and I completely agree with him.
I took a day’s rest at Joshimath. My guide Sohan Singh Bisht met me at Joshimath and recommended a 7.00 am start for Govindghat by a jeep. The trek starts from Govindghat. Our first stop was Ghangaria (3049 meters, 10003 feet) and it is 13km on foot. Horses are available for hire too. There is a helicopter ride also available in good weather from Govindghat to Ghangaria. None of these options interested me.
The way to Ghangaria is moderately uphill and there are a few flat stretches as well. On the way there are small tea shops that sell light snacks too. We stopped twice to have tea and had lunch on the way. The trail goes along the River Lakshman Ganga and it is a beautiful route. Instead of traffic you can hear the river roar and the tinkling bells of the horses.
A lot of pilgrims walk on this path as the base for the Valley of Flowers and Hemkunt Sahib is the same – Ghangaria. It took me 7 tiring hours to cover the 13 kilometers. I was so happy to reach to my hotel at Ghangaria and attack food! After an early dinner I called it a day as we were headed up to the Valley of Flowers the next day.
Day 2 of the trek started with a breakfast of bread omelet. We were also carrying a packed lunch with us as there is nothing available inside the valley. Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entry fee for Indian nationals is 150 Indian rupees and all kind of cameras are free except professional video cameras.
River Pushpawati flows through the park and from the entrance gate the valley is 3km away. This path itself is dotted with flowers. The valley then is huge and one day was not enough for me to explore it all. Even in July it was full of flowers. We sat next to the river at the far end to eat our packed lunch. We walked a long way inside the valley and then we had to walk all of that back!
Later once again I went for an early dinner so that I could be fresh for my Hemkunt Sahib walk.
The route to Hemkunt Sahib is well maintained and the NGO Economic Development Committee, Bhuyander plays a large role in keeping both the Valley of Flowers and Hemkunt Sahib clean. The route is 6km all uphill. It was a long trudge for me that I could complete only with the help of tea and chocolates.
When we reached there, the lake was covered in mist that lifted partially for a while and then completely vanished from the view. There is a small temple devoted to Lord Lakshman and we visited both the Gurudwara and the Temple. We had khichdi and tea from the langar and then it was time to head back first to Ghangaria and next day to Govindghat and Joshimath and eventually to my more routine life!
About the Guest Blogger: Mridula Dwivedi is an academic from India who is passionate about trekking and travelling, and these days dreaming about going to Antarctica. She blogs at Travel Tales from India.
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