There is something about the Himalayas not possessed by the Alps, something unseen and unknown, a charm that pervades every hour spent among them, a mystery intriguing and disturbing. Confronted by them, a man loses his grasp of ordinary things, perceiving himself as immortal, an entity capable of outdistancing all changes, all decay, all life, all death.
- Frank Smythe -
A Valley in Garhwal Himalayas gained such a distinction & popularity in no time with name ' Valley of flowers ' after the exploration by Frank Smythe who is officially credited with discovering the Valley of Flower in year 1931 after his Kamet Expedition.
Frank Smythe camped in valley of flowers for couple of days to collect material for his book “ The Valley of Flowers” and took with him seeds for the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland. In furtherance of Smythe’s work, Joan Margaret Legge went to the Valley of flowers in 1939 to study and collect few more flowers. She camped at Valley of flowers for a few days, and unfortunately lost her life when she slipped from a rock while picking flowers in the valley. Later a small memorial in the shape of a tombstone in the valley of flowers. As a reminder of the great love she had for the Himalayas, inscribed on her marble tombstone, in valley of flowers are the following words –
“I shall lift my eyes up to the mountains, from whence cometh my help.”
Valley of Flowers is at a height of 11000 feet to 14000 feet above sea level in western Himalayas. It is famous for its meadows of alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty nearly 10 km in length, 2 km in width and concave in shape. Valley of flowers is divided along its length by a river called the Pushpavati and several rivulets and waterfalls rush down from the glacial deposits to merge with it. The Pushpavati joins the Laxman Ganga, flowing from Hemkund Sahib, at Ghangaria. This combined stream retains the Laxman Ganga till it meets Alaknanda river flowing from Badrinath at Govind Ghat.
A massive snow mountain with snow called Ghoda Parvat and Rataban peak , blocks valley of flowers at the other end. There is however, a traditional route which passes across a glacial pass at an altitude of 5091 mtr to Bank Kund and the pasture lands of the Gamsali Valley, via Bhuyandar Pass and eventually leads to Niti, the last Indian village on the border with Tibet. In valley of flowers, some of the flowers which can be seen are : Pink Primulas, Pedicularis, purple Campanullas , Erigerons , Golden Lily, creamy Anemones, large purple Asters, the rare white Androsace , the rosy-petalled Cypripedium,Morina Longifora, Green and chequered Fritillaries, pink Geranimus, purple , indigo-coloured Nomochairs, blue and yellow Pansies, the Himalayan Blue Poppy petals as blue as the ocean, white and red Potentillas, golden lilly, dwarf Rhododendrons - Buransh, Primulas in pink and blue and the deepest purple, Ranunculus, pink Epilobium, Bistorta and the heavily perfumed Brahma Kamal. The distance of Valley of flowers from Ghangria is 4 km and of Hemkund Sahib is 5 km away.
. The valley of flowers trek begins after crossing Alaknanda by a suspension bridge and then along a mountain path on the right bank of Laxman Ganga. The trek passes through dense vegetation and whispering forest and Laxman Ganga always appears to be hurrying down to meet Alaknanda down below. Then at 10th km of valley of flowers trek is the Bhyundar village from where a beautiful valley branches to Kagbhushandi taal. The Valley of Flowers trek continues along the Laxam Ganga and at 3 km from the Village, Laxman Ganga has to be crossed and then begins the final zigzag climb to Ghangaria. Ghangaria, nestled amidst the giant deodars, is conjuction and stopping place for both Hemkund Sahib or Lokpal lake and the Valley of Flowers. Camping in the Valley of Flowers National Park is not permitted , due to which visitors have to spend the night at Ghangaria only.
After 45 years a new route opens for Nature lovers at Bankund after crossing Ghangaria with Camping at Palsi Udiyar and Crossing the Kunkal Pass further reaching Hanumanchatti on Badrinath Road . Birds View of National Park and Nilgiri peak is a experience of lifetime.