A natural wonder and a breathtaking place, the valley of flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the Nanda Devi National Park) and a very famous place known for its beauty the world over. Situated in the transitional land of Zanskar Valley and the Himalayas, the valley of flower is located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state, India.
The Valley- An Introduction:
The Valley of Flowers was discovered by an English mountaineer and botanist named Frank S. Smythe, who accidently discovered the place while hiking through the mountains. So enchanted was he from the place that after some time he wrote a book about it, titled, 'The Valley of Flowers'. Smythe's book, thus, introduced to the world the beauty that lay resting secretly in the giant Himalayas.
The locals, on the other hand, always knew about the existence of the place, but since it was so exceptionally beautiful, thought that fairies must be living here, and did not dare set foot on it.
After the publishing of the book, the whole world discovered the beauty that Valley of Flowers was and botanists, adventure seekers, nature lovers and all the curious souls came rushing to witness this incredible charm.
Valley of flowers has some of the most enchanting flora of the Himalayas including the celebrated Brahma Kamal, which is also the state flower of Uttarakhand. Other famous flowers found here are blue poppy and the cobra lily. According to a study there are around 520 species of higher plants and around 498 species of flowering plants found in the valley.
Apart from that, there are many plants of medicinal value like, the Picrorhiza kurrooa, Aconitum violaceum, Polygonatum multiflorum, Podophyllum hexandrum etc.
The Valley is home to a large number of rare species of animals, some of which are found particularly here. These include the Asiatic Black Bear, Snow Leopard, Brown bear, Musk deer, Blue Sheep, Red Fox, Common Langur, Bharal, Mouse Hare (Pika), Serow, Tahr and Brown Bear etc.
The aerial species found in the valley of flowers include: Snow pigeon, Griffon vulture, Golden Eagle, Himalayan Snowcock, Snow Partridge, and Sparrow Hawk etc. There are also a very wide variety of butterflies found here.
Valley of Flowers Trek:
It is accessible only through a 17 kilometres long trek from Gobindghat, a village a little distance away from Joshimath. There's a little settlement about 3 kilometres from the valley known as Ghangharia which serves as the resting place for the trekkers coming to the Valley.
An entry permit is obtained from Forest Check post at Ghangaria, which allows people to go beyond the settlement. The permit is valid up to 3 days and a nominal fee is charged for making it.
The Valley is open only in the summer between June and October and remains covered with snow the rest of the winter months.
Summer sees these hidden flowers blooming to their utmost beauty, rendering the place a breathtaking charm.
There is no accommodation at the valley and overnight stays are not allowed. Joshimath as well as Ghangharia have some state run lodges and guest houses which can be taken; also there are several hotels as well as private lodges available at Joshimath.
Air: The nearest Airport is Jolly Grant at a distance of 295 kilometres.
Rail: The nearest Railway Station is Rishikesh at a distance of 276 kilometres.