Valley of Flowers National Park in located in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Valley of flowers is popular for its wonderful natural beauty, rare animals and endemic alpine flowers. It was declared as a national park in India in 1982 and is now a world Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. It is spread over an area of 88.50 sq. Km. The park is surrounded by forests on all the sides. The beautiful waterfalls, picturesque landscapes and meadow add more beauty to the Valley of flowers. The Valley lies on the Zanskar range of the Himalayas and the highest point in the Valley of Flowers National Park is at 6,719 metres above the sea level called as Gauri Parbat.
This place was inaccessible initially and hence not very known to the world. However, the locals were aware about this place but never visited it because they believed it was the land of the fairies and whoever visited the place would be taken away by the fairies and would never return. In the year 1931, three British mountaineers namely, Frank S. Smythe, Eric Shipton and R.L.Holdsworth while returning from a successful expedition to Mt. Kamet lost their way and happened to reach the valley which was full of colourful flowers. They stumbled upon looking at the beauty of this place and named it as “Valley of Flowers.” Later, Frank Smythe also wrote a book of the name Valley of Flowers. The Valley of Flowers is also believed to be the place from where Hanuman of Ramayana brought the magical herb Sanjeevani to save the life of Laksmana. The legend still holds, as many people continue to believe that the magical herb Sanjeevani continues to grow in the park.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The density of wild animals is not very high in the park but it is home to some of the rarest and most endangered animals. There are about 13 species of mammals found in the park. Some of the rare animals found here include the snow leopard, blue sheep, Asiatic black bear and brown bear. Other animals like the Himalayan musk deer, red fox, langur, yellow throated marten, etc are found here. It is also home to various different types of birds like the snow partridge, Himalayan monal, Himalayan golden eagle, Himalayan snow cock, snow pigeon and sparrow. It is a home to various butterflies and insects. Some of the types of butterflies are lime butterfly, common blue Apollo, common Mormon, etc.
There are about 500 different types of plants to be found here. And the Valley is home to about 300 different types of alpine flowers. There are also many rare and valuable medicinal plants to be found here like Acotinum heterophyllum, Taxus wallichiana,etc . The various flowers found here include Orchids, Daisies, Primulas, Poppies, Anemones, Calendulas, etc.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airport to this place is Dehradun which is 295 km away and closest railway station is Rishikesh which is 276 km away. The closest that one can reach to The Valley of Flowers by road is Govind Ghat. To reach here you will have to drive 10 hours from Joshimath. From Govind Ghat it is further a 13 km trek along a steep and narrow but well defined mountain trail to base camp at Ghangaria. The trek takes 4-8 hours. The start of the main Valley of Flowers is another 3 km away from Ghangaria. You are not allowed to camp or stay at The Valley of Flowers and hence the closest you can stay to the place is at Ghangaria.
WHEN TO VISIT
The park remains closed almost throughout the year due to the heavy snow fall. However it is open to the public from the month of June to September. The best time to visit The Valley of Flowers would be from mid July to mid August. At this time just after the first monsoon rain the flowers are in full bloom. If you go before July then you will find very few flowers as they are yet to bloom but you could see the melting glaciers. And after August the flowers start drying and hence the colour of the valley changes from Green to Yellow. However, the Valley of Flowers presents a different look every day. And considering the weather then it gets cold in the night and early morning. The maximum temperature here is 17 degrees which falls to a minimum of 7 degrees Celsius. But this weather is perfect for trekking in the valley. And the park is only open during the daytime. Its timing is from 6 am to 6 pm.
The main valley is stretched along an area of 10 km and 2 km in width completely covered with flowers. The pristine nature and beauty of this place has been saved only because of the absence of road connectivity and the ban on human settlement and grazing of animals. The only way to reach here is by trekking. There are many groups that arrange treks to the Valley of Flowers. Thus, if one could describe the Valley of Flowers in words then the only words that come to one’s mind are beautiful, enchanting, magical and scintillating. This place is definitely a must go for every nature and adventure lover.