Valley of Flowers - A do it yourself Itinerary
Have you also been seeing those amazing pictures of the flowers and craving for the valley of flowers? Don’t worry! There are so many like you!
And if you are thinking of spending INR 8000/- to visit the valley, then you must be oblivious!
Why do I say that? Let me explain.
Have you seen any trek operator organizing Vaishno Devi or Jwala Devi or Kedarnath trek? If you are guessing No, then we now just need to understand how Valley of flowers (VOF) & Hemkund Sahib Trail is similar.
Let us go deeper into the itinerary of this trip to VOF & Hemkund Sahib?
Day 1 - Reach Govindghat or Joshimath and stay in a hotel – No support required
Book your bus to Dehradun from Delhi or reach Dehradun via train/air. Book your local transport to Joshimath easily in a shared vehicle @ INR 1000/- you can get the shared vehicle from Rispana Pul stand in Dehradun. The taxis can have a lag of around an hour before they are full to leave. You can also take a local bus to Joshimath from Dehradun ISBT. The bus starts at 0500 Hrs from Dehradun and leaves you in Joshimath at around 1600 Hrs. In case you want to travel comfortably, then you can use the Himalayan Transport Service to book your seat in a shared vehicle (max 6 in a bolero type or a seat in 12 seater tempo traveler). The cost is only INR 1250/- per seat but you can get be picked up from the bus stand, book without a fuss, travel with an assurance of good vehicle & qualified driver, and the comfort of a non-cramped vehicle. Usual sharing vehicle might put around 12 people in a Bolero.
Hotel – Come on! You don’t even need advice for this Just book them on Ibibo, Yatra, MakeMyTrip, or any of the zillion sites.
Day 2 - Start the walk to Ghangria from Joshimath/Govindghat
If you are staying in Joshimath, then you would need to travel for 30 mins to Govindghat and many shared vehicles are available every morning in Joshimath at the taxi stand. However, it is preferable to stay at Govindghat from where you can start trekking directly in the morning. So, this shared taxi journey, from Joshimath to Govindghat, should ideally be done on the prior day.
Now, let’s see how difficult the trail from Govindghat to Ghangria is. It is a cemented trail where tea stalls, dhabas, and eateries are available at almost every second turn. The distance is 13 Kms but you don’t need to go and set camps, prepare food, or anything of that sort. You are going to check into another hotel room with T.V., Dish cable, food at the restaurant (basic ones of course), quilts, hot water, washrooms, and more. So, no hurry! Take your time and walk alongside the devotees who would walk without any luxuries or even basic comforts. It is so easy to spot a 75-year-old lady walking barefooted to Ghangria where she would not check into a hotel but stay in the Gurudwara. Thus, you are not going to have any shortage of inspiration either.
Day 3 - Ghangria to Valley of flowers and back – 10 Km walk
This is the day you came for. Take the permit at government counter in Ghangria and start walking to the Valley yourself. There would be at least 500 people walking up to the valley, during the season (July till September), on the well-marked & paved trail. No chance of getting lost at all. Once you enter the valley, you are free to explore all over the place but make sure that you are back at the point where the valley opens up before it is anywhere close to dark.
The only addition that you can do to your literary profile is to note the names of all the flowers you see on the trail and in the valley. Maybe some would pay for the entire tour for just this day when their guide would tell them that they are looking at Blue Poppy but frankly I won’t. I would just read a post with good images of the flowers on the internet, take a good quality color print and refer to my booklet in the valley to spot my flowers. Anyways, I don't remember more than 3 names after I come back if someone else tells me. So, why bother so much!
Come back to the same comfort of your hotel in Ghangria.
Day 4 - Ghangria to Hemkund Sahib & back – 10 Km walk
Now, this is the day when you gain altitude and enter the technically defined High Altitude zone! Call it a danger zone but I won’t because whenever you are not feeling well, you can just come back to your hotel. Moreover, it is a lush green area and getting mountain sickness after 3 days, especially when you already have gone up till the valley of flowers and come back, is extremely low.
And again, if you find lack of inspiration, you just watch at the Sikh devotee walking next to you. Period.
Day 5 - Ghangria to Govind Ghat - 13 Kms walk
Cakewalk back to Govindghat. Get a shared vehicle back to Joshimath and check in to another comfortable hotel here.
Now the only problem that I can see here is how to book a comfortable hotel in Ghangria. Well, there are some options available on the internet but since Ghangria is not as well connected yet, there may be some issues while booking online. Thus, I give you a couple of contact numbers and you can search more similar contacts of Hotels on the net.
Hotel Nanda Lokpal Ghangria - 084496 79105
Hotel Kuber - 096270 06010
Hotel Snow Crest - 098248 54477 (Hotel in Joshimath where I stayed, nice & value for money)
Believe me. I got no cuts coming from them J
So, please don’t call Valley of flowers a trek where there is no camping, no staying in your tents, no cooking of food, no experience of staying in the wild on your own, and absolutely no need for a “certified Trek Lead”
It is a beautiful trip, to a paradise on earth that stores rarest of rare flowers in its lap. And a trip that you can easily do yourself, just like Vaishno Devi or Jwala Devi!
Waheguru Ji da Khalsa! Waheguru Ji di Fateh!