Valley of flowers is a fairy-land situated high in the Himalayas of the Uttaranchal, at an altitude of 3,600 meters above the sea-level, protected by snowy mountains. This world famous Heritage Site Valley of Flowers is situated in the upper expansions of Bhyundar Ganga in the far interior of Garhwal Himalayas. Spread over an area of 87.5 Sq.Km It is bordered by Nepal and Tibet.
It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main Valley of Flowers is a glacial corridor, around five kilometers long and two kilometers wide.
The Valley of Flowers National Park is located in Chamoli Garhwal, close to Nanda Devi National Park. It’s about 595 kilometers from Delhi, and has an altitude that varies from 10,500 feet to 21,900 feet above sea level.
The Valley of Flowers is also believed to be the place from where Hanuman brought the magical herb to resuscitate Lakshman in the Hindu epic Ramayan.
The sight of a whole valley covered with flowers of every hue and colour does indeed give it a magical quality. Over more than 650 species of flowers including the Brahmakamal, the Blue Poppy and the Cobra Lily can be found in the park.
The Valley of Flowers presents a different look each day when it becomes accessible from May to September. There are no human settlements inside the national park and grazing has been completely banned.
The Valley becomes accessible from last week of May after the snow melts. After the melting of the snow and replenished by the monsoon rains, the plants that had started life afresh, begin to bloom in July and August. In September, the plants prepare for over eight-months of hibernation. By the end of September, the valley is again carpeted under snow.
The valley was discovered when British mountaineer Frank S. Smythe chanced upon it in 1931 while returning from an expedition to Mount Kamet. He named the place Valley of Flowers and also wrote a book with the same name. The highest point of the park is Gauri Parbat, about 6,719 metre above mean sea level.
This richly diverse area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. The valley is also home to several fauna like Himalayan musk deer, yellow throated marten, snow leopard, blue sheep, black and brown bears. It is also home to a variety of birds like Himalayan golden eagle, snow partridge, Himalayan snow cock, Himalayan monal, snow pigeon and sparrow. It is also home to a variety of butterfly and insects too.
Absence of road connectivity has helped save the pristine nature of the park. Trekking or mule back is the only way to reach the Valley of Flowers. Joshimath, the nearest town, is popular pilgrimage as it is the winter abode of Lord Badrinarayan and also the seat of the math (monastery) founded by Adi Shankaracharya.
In and Around
Around Valley of Flowers National Park
Badrinath is among the holiest of Hindu pilgrimages. It is located on the left bank of river Alaknanda in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Badrinath along with Yamunotri, Gangotri and Kedarnath form the Chota Char Dham, among the important pilgrimages for Hindus.
Auli is a beautiful hill station in Uttarakhand. It lies on the way to Badrinath. It is surrounded by coniferous and oak trees, a pretty sight indeed!
Known as the Abode of Gods, Chamoli in Uttarakhand is known for its scenic landscapes, pilgrimage centres and biodiversity hotspots. Chamoli was earlier known as Kedar-Khand.
One of the holiest pilgrimages in north India, Kedarnath is situated in Uttarakhand.
Situated in the Himalayas, Ukhimath offers panoramic views of Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks.Ukhimath is a pleasant and picturesque hill town, 41 km from Rudraprayag.
Gangotri, origin of the River Ganga and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit.
Yamunotri along with Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri, forms the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage, sacred to Hindus.
Considered the ‘Cultural Heart’ of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Almora is a popular hill station 316 km from the state capital Dehradun.
A major trading centre since medieval times, Dharchula is a beautiful town located on the Indo-Nepal border in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.
A sacred town at the convergence of rivers Ganges and Chandrabhaga, Rishikesh is located at the foothills of the lower Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand.
The Valley of Flowers is only open from the beginning of June until the end of September as it’s covered in snow the rest of the year. The best time to visit is from mid July to mid August, when the flowers are in full bloom after the first monsoon rain. If you go before July, you’ll find hardly any flowers at all. However, you will be able to see melting glaciers. After mid August, the color of the Valley changes quite dramatically from greenish to yellowish, and the flowers slowly die.
The Valley of Flowers is restricted to daylight hours (from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and camping is prohibited. The last entry to the park is at 3 p.m.
Entry Fees and Charges
The entry fee is 150 rupees for Indians for a 3 day pass. Each additional day is 50 rupees for Indians. There’s a Forest Department check point less than a kilometer from Ghangaria, which marks the official beginning of The Valley of Flowers. This is where you pay the money and obtain your permit. It costs 450 rupees plus food to hire a porter, and around 500 rupees for a mule (depending on demand), at Govind Ghat for the trek to Ghangaria. Cheap plastic raincoats are also available for purchase for 20 rupees (50 cents) each.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant at Dehradun. The airport is well connected by daily flights to Delhi.
Rishikesh is the nearest railway station. Taxis and buses are available from here to reach Govindghat.
Motorable roads exist only till Govindghat. From Govindghat, you will have to trek 16 km to reach Valley of Flowers. Govindgaht is well connected by buses to Delhi and other major destinations of Uttarakhand like Rishikesh, Pauri, Chamoli, Ukhimath Srinagar, etc.
Stay / Eat
Where to stay
There are no accommodation facilities inside the Valley in Flowers as visitors are not allowed to stay inside the park. Hotels and lodges can be found in Ghangaria.
It’s best to stay overnight in Joshimath before continuing to Ghangaria. The government run Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) guesthouses are the reliable options for accommodations in the area, and advance bookings are possible. There are plenty of other options to choose from though. At Ghangaria you’ll find both basic hotels and camping facilities. However, comforts are minimal, and the electricity and water supply are erratic. Alternatively, the more adventurous can camp as close to the entry of the park as permitted near Ghangaria.
Where to eat
Like options to stay, there are no options to eat inside the park too. It is advisable to carry enough food stocks to last your trek. Ghangaria is the place where one can find restaurant and hotels.