Located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand in India and perched at an altitude of 3658 m above sea level, the Valley of Flowers, sprawling an expanse of 87 square kilometers, is set in the backdrop of the majestic Zanskar Ranges. It is a remotely located virtual paradise on earth that remains covered with a thick blanket of snow during the winter season. However, during the months of July, August and September it bursts into its majestic boom. During those months the valley sheds its somewhat somnolent nature and barren look to become decked up with thousands of exotic multicoloured flora. When the monsoon clouds began to drizzle, the valley shows its flowery face and the entire region seems to be glistened like a bright colourful carpet.
The valley is remarkably situated in an area, which is the conversion point of the Himalayan ranges, Zanskar and the Western and the Eastern Himalayas. The local believe, the valley was inhabited by fairies. Surrounded by green meadows and the cascading waterfalls, it is really a wonderland, guarded by the emerald mountain ranges and the glittering glaciers. It is a scenic place, a surreal world, where the nature blooms with its entire vista and can only be reached by a tedious but enchanting stroll.
The alluring beauty of the place was unknown to the world till in 1931, when the great Mountaineer Frank S Smith discovered it and named it Valley of Flowers. Later, in the year 1939, Joan Margaret Legge, a botanist trekked there to study the flowers. Unfortunately, she lost her life by slipping from the rocky terrain. Subsequently, her sister visited the place and erected a memorial near the spot.
One is to reach Govind Ghat to commence the journey towards the Valley of Flowers. Situated on the banks of Alaknanda River, it acts as the starting point of the trek to Hemkunth Sahib and Valley of flowers. One can use the public transport or hire a car for a comfortable journey from Hardwar to Govindghat. However, it is better to hire a car for the whole trip, since it would be difficult to get a car for the return journey. Motor-able road ends at Govindghat and the trek distance between Govindghat and Ghangaria is 14 km. However, after the massive flood of 2013, the trek is rebuilt in most of the places and the new metalled road is built till village Pulna, which is now the first village between Govindghat and Ghangaria trek. Added to it, the first 4 km of the trek between Govindghat and Ghangaria is also made motor-able, from where one can get a pony or porter for the onward journey.
Ghangaria is located at the confluence of Pushpawati and Hemganga River, which comes to be known as Lakshman Ganga. The small village of Ghangaria is the base camp for the final trek, which is about 6 km from the Valley of Flowers. Since the Valley of Flower is strictly a non residential area, it is the ideal place for the visitors to relax and sleep. Ghangaria has several hotels including one from the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, with facilities of restaurants serving Punjabi, Chinese, and Garhwali dishes.
The official starting point of the Valley is almost 3.5 km from Ghangaria, out of which about 3 km is steep uphill and the remaining part is almost flat. Finally, after crossing a gurgling brook, one can enter the vast expanse of the breathtaking valley. Guarded by the snow capped Himalayan ranges, it is a riot of colours, smells and sounds. The Valley of Flower is a huge floral carpet of different flowers with different colours and hues, which numbs the senses and fills the heart with awe and wonder.
The Valley of Flowers is aptly called by the Hindus as the Nandan Kanan, the garden of Lord Indra, the King of the gods. Unspoiled by human invasions, the Valley is the home of over 500 species of wildflowers from time unknown. It was declared as the national park in the year 1982 and is a part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. It is also a World Heritage Site. Every year, the virgin beauty of the valley lures hundreds of visitors from all over the world, which include the botanists and the adventure lovers as well.