Immersed in the natural splendor of the Himalayan peaks, the Valley of Flowers National Park beckons to visitors with its otherworldly charm and beauty. This park, spanning over 87 square kilometers in the Chamoli district, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and serves as one of the two core zones of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, the other being the Nanda Devi National Park.
The place wasn’t well-known to the outside world due to its inaccessibility. In 1931, Frank S. Smythe, Eric Shipton and R. L. Holdsworth, all British mountaineers, lost their way while returning from a successful expedition to Mt.Kamet and happened upon the valley, which was full of flowers. They were attracted to the beauty of the area and named it the “Valley of Flowers.” Frank Smythe later authored a book of the same name.
When to visit
The best time to visit the Valley of Flowers is between May and October, when the area transforms into a botanical wonderland. The months of July to September offer the maximum abundance of flowers, making it an ideal time to visit.
How to reach
To reach the Valley of Flowers, one must embark on a trek of approximately 17 km (10.5 mi). The closest major town is Joshimath in Garhwal, which can be conveniently accessed by road from Haridwar and Dehradun, both located around 270 km (168 mi) to the south of Joshimath. From Delhi, one can take a train to Haridwar and then travel by bus to Govindghat via Rishikesh. Govindghat is situated approximately 24 km before the important destination of Badrinath. Alternatively, it is possible to drive from Delhi to Govindghat, a distance of about 500 km.
Govindghat, located close to Joshimath (about one hour’s drive), serves as the starting point of the trek. From Govindghat, shared taxis are available for the first 4 km, after which trekkers must hike for less than 11 km (8.6 mi) to reach Ghangaria, a small settlement situated about 3 km (about 2 mi) from the valley. Alternatively, one can hire a porter, mule, or even take a helicopter to reach Ghangaria. The trek from Govindghat to Ghangaria is common for those visiting the Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib Sikh Temple at Hemkund, and one is likely to encounter many Sikh pilgrims along the route. As Ghangaria draws nearer, trekkers are greeted by fields of fragrant wild flowers, wild rose bushes, and wild strawberries lining the path.
Visitors to the Valley of Flowers must obtain a permit from the Forest Department at Ghangaria, which is valid for three days. Overnight stay inside the National Park is not allowed, and accommodation options can be found in Ghangaria. The best time to visit the Valley of Flowers is between July and early September, when the valley is in full bloom with flowers, just after the monsoon season.
The Valley of Flowers is located in the serene valley of Pushpawati River, nestled in the upper reaches of Bhyundar Ganga River near Joshimath in the Garhwal region. The lower parts of the Bhyundar Ganga river near Gobindghat are known as Bhyundar Valley. The Valley of Flowers spans between 30° 41′ to 30° 48’N and 79° 33′ to 79° 46’E, and is situated 20 km northwest of Nanda Devi National Park, separated by the wide valley of the Bhyundar Ganga river. It is one of two hanging valleys at the head of the Bhyundar valley, with the other being the shorter Hemkund valley which runs parallel to the Valley of Flowers about 10 km south. The Valley of Flowers stretches approximately 15 km in length from east to west, with an average width of 6 km. A small tributary of the Pushpawati river originates from the Tipra glacier in Gauri Parbat in the east and flows through the Valley of Flowers.
The area is part of the Zanskar range of the Himalayas, with the highest point in the national park being Gauri parbat at an elevation of 6,719 m above sea level. Overall, the Valley of Flowers is a stunning and picturesque location known for its vibrant floral diversity and natural beauty. So, come and explore the beauty of the Valley of Flowers in the heart of the Himalayas!
Brief Travel Guide
- Location: The Valley of Flowers is located in the upper expanses of the Bhyundar Ganga river near Joshimath in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India. It is nestled in the Pushpawati river valley and is a part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Best Time to Visit: The Valley of Flowers is open for visitors from June to September, as this is the time when the snow melts and the flowers are in full bloom. The monsoon season brings the valley to life with a plethora of colorful flowers, making it the best time to witness its beauty.
- How to Reach: The nearest major city to the Valley of Flowers is Dehradun, which is well connected by air, rail, and road. From Dehradun, one can drive to Joshimath and then trek to the Valley of Flowers via Govindghat and Ghangaria. The trek is moderate in difficulty and requires a permit, which can be obtained at Govindghat.
- Accommodation: Ghangaria, the base camp for the Valley of Flowers, offers basic accommodation options such as guesthouses and camps. Joshimath also has a range of hotels and guesthouses for overnight stays.
- Highlights: The Valley of Flowers is known for its breathtaking meadows adorned with a variety of flowers like orchids, primulas, poppies, and many more. The valley is also home to rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature lovers and botany enthusiasts.
- Trekking Tips: Trekking to the Valley of Flowers requires moderate fitness levels and appropriate clothing and gear. It’s advisable to carry rain gear, warm clothes, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Acclimatization to the altitude is important, and drinking plenty of water is necessary to stay hydrated.
- Other Attractions: Apart from the Valley of Flowers, one can also visit nearby places like Hemkund Sahib, a revered Sikh pilgrimage site, and the Badrinath temple, one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites.
- Conservation: The Valley of Flowers is a protected area, and it’s important to respect the environment and follow the rules and regulations to ensure its preservation for future generations.
Below is a suggested itinerary for a trip to the Valley of Flowers from Dehradun:
Day 1: Dehradun to Joshimath
- Start your journey from Dehradun, which is the nearest major city to the Valley of Flowers.
- Drive to Joshimath, which is approximately 300 km away and takes around 9-10 hours by car.
- Along the way, you’ll pass through scenic landscapes, including the picturesque towns of Rishikesh and Devprayag.
- Reach Joshimath and check into your accommodation for the night.
- Rest and acclimatize to the altitude, as Joshimath is located at an elevation of 1,890 meters above sea level.
Day 2: Joshimath to Ghangaria
- After an early breakfast, start your day with a scenic drive from Joshimath to Govindghat, which is around 22 km away.
- From Govindghat, begin your trek to Ghangaria, which is the base camp for the Valley of Flowers.
- The trek is approximately 14 km long and takes about 6-7 hours to complete.
- Enjoy the mesmerizing views of the Himalayas, dense forests, and gushing rivers along the way.
- Reach Ghangaria, a small village nestled amidst stunning mountains, and check into your accommodation for the night.
Day 3: Explore Valley of Flowers
- Start early in the morning and begin your trek to the Valley of Flowers, which is about 3 km from Ghangaria.
- Enter the Valley of Flowers, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its vibrant meadows filled with rare and exotic flowers.
- Spend the day exploring the valley, marveling at the diverse flora, and taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks.
- Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the serene beauty of the valley.
- After a day of exploration, trek back to Ghangaria and rest for the night.
Day 4: Ghangaria to Govindghat and back to Joshimath
- Trek back from Ghangaria to Govindghat, which takes about 3-4 hours.
- From Govindghat, drive back to Joshimath.
- On the way, you can visit the famous Badrinath temple, if time permits.
- Reach Joshimath and check into your accommodation for the night.
Day 5: Joshimath to Dehradun
- After breakfast, start your return journey from Joshimath to Dehradun.
- Drive back through the scenic routes, enjoying the beautiful landscapes.
- Reach Dehradun, and your Valley of Flowers itinerary concludes.
Please note that trekking to the Valley of Flowers requires a permit, which can be obtained at Govindghat. It’s advisable to check the weather conditions and plan your trip accordingly, and also to carry appropriate trekking gear, clothing, and essentials for a safe and enjoyable journey. Happy exploring!