The Valley of Flowers is a 3 km rise in Ghangria. We walk from Ghangria, from the side opposite to the one where we entered the preceding day. We cross a bridge across Lakshman Ganga, which we begin falling down in the rugged mountain far away. It originates in Hemkund Lake. After the bridge, the path bifurcates – the perfect one goes into Hemkund, and the left one leads to the Valley of Flowers.
There are no mules allowed in the Valley, but you can ride one up to Hemkund. And the distinction is noticed soon – the odor of mule-dung that had gotten to our heads is substituted by pleasant smell of plant. We cross the check post after entering our titles in the register and paying a nominal charge. There is a stream coming down from the left, and one must cross it over a makeshift bridge.
The road descends, and an iron bridge spans the Pushpawati River, which roars down with incredible fury and meets the Lakshman Ganga at Ghangria. Exotic blossoms start right out of here. Interestingly, there are only a few who look for flowers – most have yoga and meditation within their mind, or are just trekkers looking for a beautiful location.
Climbing up from the bridge, the path is narrow and the river is far down below, with rocky slopes on each side. Soon we reach the glacier that, of course, isn’t rooted in these months. After a three km uphill walk, we enter the valley, and this can be marked by crossing a wooden bridge, with a map of the valley put up next to it. There is a massive rock that people are scrambling over.
We feel thirsty and fill our jar with the stream water, which can be clear and cold and tastes like mineral water (which it is (literally) having a slight overdose of minerals. The huge expanse of the valley is amazing, and there are meadows of flowers as if somebody is maintaining a huge blossom farm. Large stretches of Himalayan Balsam, that is the most predominant flower of the valley.
The absolute number of certain flowers is so big that most men and women have a tendency to think there are only a couple of kinds of flowers there. Sometimes one has to stop and gaze, to spot some fresh flowers. Sometimes one has to wade in knee-deep blossoms to reach a place that could have blossoms of another kind. The more you look, the more you see, and there does not seem to be a limit to it.
Another flower that is present in large numbers is your Himalayan Hogweed. The title is misleading because the white flat-topped blossom clusters swaying in the breeze is a lovely sight. It adds allure to the Valley of Flowers Trek, also develops in prosperity. Bears tiered whorls of fragrant white blossoms that turn pale pink then rosy red with time.
Further on, we’re greeted with a captivating sight – low on the ground, masses of wooly white flowers, which we recognize as the famous Edelweiss. Edelweiss is the symbol of the Alps. That’s the reason it is connected in Slovenia with mountaineering. Its white color is known as in Switzerland that a symbol of purity and beauty.
Some blossoms grow on low ground, and one must make a bid to spot them – Trailing Bellflower is an example. In the realm of flowers, blue is an unusual color. But here, the mother character has resisted various colors of blue with homosexual abundance. There are tiny beautiful blue blossoms called forget-me-not, disperse throughout. The blue poppy is obviously much sought after.
In fact, some tourists come all of the ways from Japan only to have a look at this charming Himalayan flower. Then there are odd blue geraniums – we had seen a lot of varieties of geraniums before coming into the Valley, but all of them were pink or purple.
You can find regions where tall crops are completely missing, but what’s there is even more enchanting. The uneven ground covered with grass and rocks – little red berries disperse over rocks in one place, little white flowers dot the entire expanse; small asters, with blue daisy-like blossoms heads, are seen every so often. We’re enchanted with bunches of blue-berries, and exactly what a celestial blue! We feel like Alice in wonderland. The place does not let us proceed – we simply feel like exploring it more.
It does not take long in the Valley to begin raining. Clouds descend without warning, and it starts drizzling. We pull our Rs 15 raincoats over our heads and continue with our enchanting travel. In a lively mood today, our enthusiasm has ebbed. After a while, we lay down in the grass, chat and respect the green expanse of this Valley, the tremendous mountains on each side, and the snow peaks in the conclusion of this Valley. The sun is going down, and we have to begin our trip back to Ghangria until it becomes dark.
If one is serious about blossoms, one day in the Valley is really insufficient. Thus, we decided to spend the following day, and research areas which we did not research before. We move faster through the parts where we spent plenty of time the former day, and move further down the Valley.
Miss Margarate Legge, a botanist from Edinburgh’s botanical gardens, arrived in the valley in 1939 to conduct further research. While she was traversing some rocky slopes to accumulate flowers, she had a fatal slip. Her sister afterward visited the valley and erected a memorial to the place where she had been buried by the natives. The following words are inscribed on the stone:
“I will lift mine eyes unto the Hills
From whence cometh my help.”
We have dinner at one of many restaurants there, all of which serve nearly identical menus, normal town Punjabi meals, and retire for the evening. The following morning we get up and look for a better accommodation, which is readily available, because individuals returning from Hemkund the former night, are leaving for Govindghat.