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Sunday, September 10, 2017

An Informative Guide to Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib Trek

Manu Khandelwal
Valley of Flowers National Park
Firstly, let me tell you that this account is not an experience. It consists of almost all the information related to Valley of Flowers Trek.

For my experience, check out A Trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib

Let’s get started with this..

Valley of Flowers is one such place that is on almost every traveler’s list. The valley is quite prominent and it attracts visitors from all over the world. It can be reached by a moderate trek of 16 km. If one wants to go on this trek then he/she can book a trekking package from any adventure travel company which will cost around INR 10,000 (Haridwar to Haridwar). In case one wants to travel cheaper then the only option is by doing the trek on your own. If we talk about other treks, there is no connectivity, no food, no stay, so buying a package for a long duration trek can be a wise option unless you are not in a mood of an alpine trek. The good thing about Valley of Flowers trek is that you don’t need a guide to show you way, a tent to stay and a cook for food.

About Valley of Flowers:

It is a huge valley full of flowers and is expanded across a large area of 87.5 sq. km. The valley is situated in the region of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. The valley consists of several rare species of flowers which bloom during the monsoon season. These flowers are used in making important medicines and scents.

Preparation before leaving:

If you are planning to do this trek independent then the first thing you should do is that you book a room at Ghangaria village because monsoon season is the main season to visit valley of flowers, hence a large number of people visit the valley during the same season. So booking rooms in advance is a better option and you can trek tension free.

The difficulty level of the trek varies from easy to moderate and the trail is well paved throughout the whole trek. If you have done treks before then its great otherwise beginners can also do it.

For packing list, you can refer any of the lists that is available on the internet. Make sure you carry a poncho or a raincoat because there is a high probability that you find the rain. In case you don’t get the room at Ghangaria then you can take rented tents with you to stay. If you are carrying tents then you need to find a right place at Ghangaria to pitch your tents. For some places, you are required to take permission and pay some amount to Forest Department. You can consider the area of GMVN, just talk to the manager and he will ask a nominal charge and allow you.


How to reach the starting point of the trek?

The starting point of the trek is Govindghat. Govindghat is a small village situated on the Rishikesh Badrinath highway. The village acts a base camp for the treks to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. The village is also the confluence point of rivers Bhyundar and Alaknanda. If one doesn’t want to trek till Ghangaria, then he/she can opt for Helicopter service from Govindghat to Ghangaria. The cost for dropping is INR 3150.

Govindghat can be reached by taking a road transport only. Govindghat is 275 km far from the city of Rishikesh. Rishikesh or its nearby city Haridwar can be reached by Road as well as Rail. From Haridwar/Rishikesh, one can opt for a bus (government or private) or taxi (shared or private) to travel to Govindghat. You can board any bus or taxi going to Badrinath, which will drop you at Govindghat. You can find buses at a private bus stand just adjacent to the ISBT Rishikesh. Either Nanda Devi or GMOU is written on the bus. At Haridwar, you will find buses at the bus stand itself. Choose your conveyance wisely as it is a long hectic 12 hours mountain journey and roads are also not good. The buses and taxis run only in the morning, so make sure you reach Rishikesh/Haridwar by 4 AM or AM.

  • Fare for Private bus to Govindghat - INR 400
  • Fare for Government Bus to Govindghat - INR 560
  • Fare for Shared taxi to Govindghat - INR 500
  • Fare for Private taxi to Govindghat - INR 6500

Itinerary:

Day 1: 

Reach Rishikesh/Haridwar and then proceed with your onwards journey. The taxi takes bit lesser time than the bus but it would be more hectic (according to me). The traveling time from Rishikesh to Govindghat is around 12 hours. The complete journey is through mountain roads. The road passes through the towns of Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Chamoli, and Joshimath. You will reach the Govindghat village by evening. This day you have to stay at Govindghat. There are several hotels and guesthouses available at the village and the good thing is that they remain available. You can try in Hotel Shubham.

Fare for room: INR 600 – INR 1000

Govindghat Village

Day 2: 

Begin your trekking journey to Ghangaria in the morning. The distance from Govindghat to Ghangaria is 13 km, 3 km motorable and 10 km trekkable. Take the downwards route going through the market and Police Station. Walk for 800 meters and you will come across a bridge where several taxis are on standby. Register yourself at a window near the bridge. Now there are two options to cover the distance of 3 km till Pulna village, either by taxi or by trekking. I would suggest that you take a taxi. If you go by doing trek then you will get tired very soon. The shared taxi will take around half an hour to reach the starting point of the trek.

Fare for taxi to Pulna: INR 35

Deboard the taxi and start your trek. From here, Ghangaria is 10 km far. The route is well paved all the way and the trail is a blend of uphill and downhill. You will find several villages amidst the way where you can have refreshments. All the time, you will be trekking along the Bhyundar river. The trek is scenic. You will encounter several waterfalls and will be passing through the forest. It will take you around 6 hours to reach the village. After reaching Ghangaria, relax and explore the village. If you are not tired enough then you can watch a documentary based on Valley of Flowers at the campus of Eco Development Council (NGO). It is better to watch the documentary. The half an hour movie will give you all the necessary information related to the Valley of Flowers.

Charges for Documentary: INR 30.

A bridge near Bhyundar Village

Ghangaria Village

What and where to eat:

There are several restaurants available in Ghangaria. You can find north Indian as well as south Indian food. The good thing is that rates are same in all the restaurants. Only taste differs. You can also try the food at GMVN restaurant.

Some restaurants and hotels in Ghangaria
Hotel Kuber
Hotel Nanda Lokpal
Hotel Priya
Hotel Gangotri

Day 3: 

It is advisable that you start your trek in the early morning so that you will have more time to explore the valley and you will enjoy its beauty to the fullest. The valley is 3 km far from the village of Ghangaria. Take the upwards route from Ghangaria and take a left turn from the check post after walking for 800 meters around. The trail to Valley of Flowers is also paved. It is mild uphill till the bridge over the Bhyundar river and steep after the bridge. The valley is mesmerizingly beautiful. Experience the infinite beauty of the place. You can go to the grave of John Margaret and also up to river belt. Start descending towards the village before 4 PM so that you reach back during day light. 
After coming back, relax and get prepared for your next day trek to Hemkund Sahib.

Entry Fees to Valley of Flowers: INR 150 per person

A majority of people do Hemkund Sahib and Valley of Flowers Trek together. Trek to Hemkund Sahib takes only one day for ascent as well as descent. However, if you don’t want to do Hemkund Sahib Trek then you can leave for Govindghat on this day.

Checkpost of Valley of Flowers National Park

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

Day 4: 

Start your trek in the early morning with the same initial route. The Gurudwara is 8 km from the Ghangaria village. The trek to Hemkund Sahib is difficult as compared to Valley of Flowers Trek. The trail is paved but steep all the way. It will take you around 5-6 hours to reach the Gurudwara. After reaching there, explore the place and have the world’s highest langar. Later descend back to Ghangaria village.

Starting of Hemkund Sahib Trek

Reaching Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib: Highest Gurudwara in the world

Day 5: 

If you want to leave for Rishikesh/Haridwar on the same day then you have to leave early morning by 5 AM.  The buses which go to Rishikesh/Haridwar, start from Badrinath in the morning and pass through Govindghat. So If you want to catch the bus then you have to leave early from Ghangaria. In case if you don’t get a bus, you can try for a taxi as well or you can also break your journey by traveling to Joshimath, then to Chamoli and then to Rishikesh/Haridwar. In case you don’t want to go back and extend your journey then you can also visit Badrinath and Mana village on this day. Badrinath is just 25 km from the village of Govindghat.

Start early from Ghangaria and take the same route and descend all the way. Reach Pulna and take the taxi to Govindghat. Trek ends here.

Day 6: 

Buffer Day or for returning back to Rishikesh/Haridwar

So this is the whole plan that you can follow to do the Valley of Flowers Trek. By following the plan, you can do this trek in around INR 6000 (Delhi to Delhi). So pack your bags and move your ass :)

Manu Khandelwal / Author

I call myself a traveller more than a travel blogger. Started this blog in 2013. Apart from this I am an Electrical Engineer. Love trekking and doing bike road trips. Like using technology but not addicted to it. A true foodie and love eating burgers.

8 comments:

  1. Helpful article for the future trekkers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Valley of flowers is in my bucket list right after the great lakes of Kashmir. Very informative post. Will come in handy when I make my plans. Thank you and have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great that you could keep the guide as interesting as any well written travel story. Definitely a very well comprised article for a traveller.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy to see the current prices listed! Earlier one had to walk all the way from Govindghat too!

    ReplyDelete

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