Valley Of Flowers
For obvious reasons, treks to a number of high-altitude valleys in the Garhwal region have been aborted this year. Possibly for the next couple of years even. One thing is quite definite though: given the nature of over-riding circumstances, it is unlikely that stakeholders can secure temporary arrangements in the steadily closing window they have till September, maybe October.
For that alone, my ill-timed visit to Valley of Flowers in early June will remain a cherished one forever more. That I woke up to a glorious morning, well-rested and with no tell-tale signs of the trek to Hem Kund the previous day, was clearly a good sign. The narrow pathway into this National Park, part of the all-encompassing Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, branches off a kilometer upwards from Ghangria. Another three kilometres into the Park will bring you to the “entrance”. Trek along.
A steady path, birdsong, lofty pines and the loud gush of the Pushpawati river are your companions for the first five hundred meters or so. An iron bridge at this juncture takes you across, whereon the pines are replaced by birch and the even tread by a gradual incline.
Looking back a little further up from the other side, you are treated to the sight of a rocky amphitheater, in the centre of which, lost among the descending clouds, is Hem Kund.
This here is the magnificent first view of the broad Pushpawati valley and the rock-solid glacier under which the feisty river has tunnelled its way through. The path here was extremely narrow, as you can tell from the image, and a matter of some concern.
Till I got to the glacier, that is! Thank god for the sturdy shoes and walking stick; the latter an afterthought that day, would you believe?
An eternity later (read five minutes), I gathered the courage to look up, but not enough to take a shot. This was clicked once I hit terra firma again.
Well, as the …er… sign suggests, you have now reached the entry to the Valley Of Flowers. The celebrated flora of which incidentally is at its blooming best during and after the rains. Hence, ill-timed.
And this, dear readers, is what the sign points you towards: Bridge Over Unidentified Nallah aka Entry To VOF. Soon after you cross the glacier, the path steers away from the Pushpawati to align with this equally noisy stream. Going over that contraption also acquaints you with the dangerously fast flow of the water below.
Of course you get your money’s worth of incredible sights, if not carpets of flowers. I understand each month of the monsoon the valley floor takes on a different hue: white, pink and blue. Wonder if I will ever retread these stony tracks…
Countless waterfalls from great heights are a common sight, some of which, were largely frozen in the month of June.
About a kilometre into the Valley, the clouds cleared to accord us this audience with the Ratavan Range including Gauri Parbat and the Tipri glacier.
I had instructions not to linger beyond late afternoon. Lost in the majesty of my surroundings while munching on a cold congealed leftover parantha, I had already overshot by an hour. It was time to turn back.
But not before one last long look, trying to imagine what this place would look like in full splendour. Oh, well.