Valley of Flowers, Garhwal Himalaya
In the Himalayan region of Garhwal, in Uttranchal state, the captivating Valley of Flowers is a paradise on Earth. With a touch of mystique and divine solitude, it inspires equanimity. A World Heritage Site since the year 1988, the Valley of Flowers has enraptured mountaineers and botanists alike much longer.
Hemkund and Valley of Flowers trek Map GM:64
The Valley of Flowers National Park, along with Nanda Devi National Park are the transition areas between the Greater Himalayas and Zanskar mountain ranges. The flowers that grow here are unique to the valley. It is difficult terrain even for a seasoned trekker, yet very fulfilling.
The rich flora here is supplemented with equally rich fauna. Bird life is a challenge to spot among the myriad greens and rainbow flowers. Flowers are the biggest attraction here. Nonetheless, the Asiatic black bear, brown bear, snow leopard and blue sheep, otherwise endangered, are safe here in the high meadows.
Criss-crossing Himalayan streams
The area is rich with flowers, tales from trekkers and hermits alike
River Pushpavati also known as the Bhyundar Ganga flows swiftly through the valley with several other streams that nourish the flora and fauna and add to the charisma. The area is rich with flowers, tales from trekkers and hermits alike.
This flower-haven was discovered by Frank Smythe, a mountaineer, explorer and botanist in the year1931 when he was returning from an expedition to Mt. Kamet. Consequently, in the year 1937 he published his book, ‘A Valley of Flowers’, thus giving the valley its name. It was declared a National Park in 1982.
The valley is snow bound from November to May. As the snow thaws hundreds of plants spring to life and bring forth a short season bursting with vibrant flowers and insects. During the monsoons, from mid July to mid August, the valley is in full bloom.
The high altitude meadows here are carpeted with rare flowers and foliage some only found here in the world. This exotic valley has more than a 1000 varieties of flowering plants.
Just to name a few- the Himalayan edelweiss, Himalayan blue poppy, anemones, asters, fritillaries, gentians, geraniums, larkspurs, lilies, orchids, potentillas and primulas, marsh marigolds and the elusive brahmakamal which is found on the higher areas.
I soaked up in the brilliant colour spread and rejuvenated myself in each breath of the scented air. Either sides of the pathways were fields of flowers some tall enough to give a tunnel effect to our track.
Legends that live
There are certain legends associated with this magical valley. One is that the Valley of Flowers is inhabited by fairies that carry off anyone who ventures too far into their world.
Another story says that this valley- known in Hindu mythology as `Nandankanan'- was created when the Gods showered flowers down on earth.
The other explaination goes that some flowers growing here emit a fragrance strong enough for anybody to faint.
Criss-crossed by streams and plants with almost mystic qualities, it was not an easy trek, but the experience is going to last a lifetime.