Trek to “The Valley of Flowers"
It was a blessed day when I decided to take this journey, and blessed be 'Nisarg’-Nature and Adventure Club, a voluntary mountaineering organization, with whom we had gone. It was a trek to The Valley Of Flowers, in the Garhwal hills of The Himalayas and 30 excited hearts were rearing to go. Most of us were college students, with 4 odd couples, the group leaders and the cooks!
The route we were supposed to take was B'Bay-Delhi-Rishikesh-Joshimath-Auli-Govindghat by train/bus and from there trek to Ghangharia, Hemkund Sahib, Valley of Flowers, Vasundhara Falls n back to Badrinath-Haridwar-Delhi-B'bay in 15 days.
Joshimath to Auli was an enchanting trip, via the longest ropeway in Asia, displaying the awesome skiing grounds of Auli, which are deeply snow-covered Jan onwards. Our actual trek commenced from Govindghat from where we climbed 14 kms in 7 hours to reach Ghangharia, where we had our base camp for 3 days. It was drizzling the next day when we left for Hemkund Sahib, the holy shrine of the Sikhs, situated at 14,000 feet above sea level. It was freezing at 3 degrees, n the rain n the fog did not allow you to see anything farther than 10-15 meters! And yet, the indomitable Sikh kids took their clothes off and jumped into the freezing lake for a holy dip, among loud exclamations of ‘Jo kahe so nihal, Satsssssrriyakaaalll”!
The next day was the big day, our chief destination The Valley of Flowers (or Phoolon Ki Ghati) awaited us. Surrounded by the river Pushpavati and other small streams, at an elevation of 10,000 feet, The Valley of Flowers is nearly 10 km. in length and 2 km. in width and concave in shape. The best time to visit this world of flowers is during the rains (mid July to august) when the flowers are full in bloom, covering the hills in a thick carpet of flowers, and the gentle cold breeze spreading their infectious fragrance throughout the Valley, setting a majestic picturesque in front of these human eyes! It is a land ablaze with a bewildering variety of the richest and the rare-most flowers in the world - orchids, asters, Brahmkamals, bluebells, lillys, marigolds, sunflowers n many more. Beyond the realms of human imagination, away from the polluted commercialization of modern day life, lies this lush green valley, with white, ice-cold glaciers and beautiful waterfalls, snow clad peaks in the background, and a sea of multi-colored flowers, as if God took a fancy to colors n beauty and splashed these heavenly hues from his unearthly palette! Among the clicks of the cameras, I clicked with my eyes, and the impression registered permanently in my mind!
Other places we visited were extremely wonderful too. Badrinath, on the banks of Alaknanda, the Vasundhara Falls on the Indo-China border, where we saw the "last tea stall of India' before the Indo-Tibet border begins, and the origin of the mysterious holy "Sarasvati". Amazing too was the trip to our cook's native village, where we joined the beautiful Garhwali women in their traditional folk dance, dressed ourselves in their traditional attires!!
15 days flew away in no time, and sadly we took the train back home, but each of us a better person, carrying in our hearts the rich memories of the unforgettable walk through Mother Nature's divine paradise, and a continuous urge to return to the mountains again someday.
The magnificence of the glorious Garhwal hills, and the Valley of Flowers, can be truly summed up in an old Pharsi saying: “Gar firdaus bar rooh~e~zameenast, hameen-ast o hameena-ast o hameen-ast – loosely translated as ‘Agar zameen pein kahin jannat hain, yahin hain,yahin hain,yahin hain"!!!