Heavy downpours kept us indoors for the most of the previous evening and night. The next morning we decided to explore the Valley of Flowers, but were met with more downpours and the skies showed no signs of clearing up.
Here is a very long photo story on a trip I (Lovell) made way back in 2011, during the months of August and September, to the Valley of Flowers, along with a bunch of friends — Rebyl, Tulsi, Danny, Johnny, Josh, Rahul, Mukesh and Mohith.
Unwanted technical nonsense: This post contains 94 photos, which are auto resized based on your browser size, lazyloaded and pushed via a CDN, so chill.
We left Ghangaria, a village in Uttarakhand (India), located at an altitude of above 3000 meters, sometime just before noon and started our trek to the Valley of Flowers, a National Park and a World Heritage Site, part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. It is situated around 4 to 5 kilometers from the Ghangaria village and is home to more than 500 species of wild flowers.
We leave the village of Ghangaria and head towards the Valley of Flowers.
Pristine Himalayan water, from the Pushpawati kept gushing around us, along the entire trail.
The Pushpawati river.
A cemented trail filled with mule droppings, at the start, right outside the village of Ghangaria.
The Pushpawati river, along with the paved trail at the beginning.
Once past the checkpost, where the forest officials did some Q&A with us, we were on track, hoping to see some great landscapes, if not flowers.
Start of the dirt/stone trail to the Valley of Flowers, right after the checkpost.
Thank to the landslides, some crossings had to be done over temporary bridges constructed with stone, wood and metal.
No landslide can stop the river.
Moving higher and further into the national park.
A stone paved trail welcomed us at times.
Trek to the Valley of Flowers
The rains played hide and seek, but luckily there were no heavy downpours, like the previous night, else we would’ve surely been drenched, considering that we only had rain jackets on, and no other rain-proof clothing to keep us dry.
The Pushpawati river, along the mighty Himalayas.
A much safer crossing option.
Tulsi makes her way across the bridge.
Time for some climbing!
The Pushpawati river.
Good guy Mohith Rao was our timekeeper. We were told to time the trek properly, making sure we head back early, as it tends to get dark really fast, high up here in the mountains. Hence, the power of shooing people around was bestowed on this young man.
Timekeeper Mohith was not impressed. Or maybe he was just awestruck.
The Pushpawati river again.
The thick green cover along our trail.
The bridge across the Pushpawati river.
The Himalayas! So high that they block the path of the clouds.
Tulsi (front), and another traveler make their way up.
Clouds were all around us.
The river cut its way under some frozen ice.
While clouds tried to engulf the place.
What a beautiful sight.
The clouds kept sweeping in and out, but we were not ready for the thick cover, which brought the visibility almost to zero. Suddenly the massive mountains around us just disappeared.
Rahul takes some time off to appreciate the beauty, while a huge cloud makes its way towards us.
A few folks employed local porters, who carried them up and down the mountains. I think this is one of the toughest job out there.
Another beautiful sight.
Trekking high up in the Himalayas is no joke. Especially if you are not fit. Plus we had trekked uphill, for most part of the previous day, covering some 16-odd kilometers from Govindghat to Ghangaria. Energy levels were a bit low, but our spirits were high. Which meant that we took our own sweet time walking through the valley, stopping whenever we wished to appreciate the landscape around us.
Thanks to the landslides, we had no defined path to follow. Johnny and Mukesh took on the role of lead explorers.
In the distance, you can find Tulsi and a bunch of (I’m assuming) locals.
These amazing scenes kept unfolding as we made our way further.
Josh and Mukesh add to the beauty.
The big block of frozen river.
And more beautiful landscapes.
Tulsi balances herself.
Even more eye candy!
Timekeeper Mohith and Danny stop to catch their breath and admire the beauty.
And finally we were in the thick of things.
No clue what this flower is.
And there we were, right in the middle of the Valley of Flowers.
Johnny dwarfed by the tall plants.
We kept moving up the trail.
Crossed over stone paths.
And found a lot of make shift bridges along the way.
Johnny documenting what could have been Tulsi’s final crossing.
The Pushpawati gushes down the Himalayas.
Some kind souls, I guess the locals or forest rangers, made provision for people to refill their bottles.
And what a sight it was!
And finally, we were in the midst of it all. The clouds, the flowers, the streams, all coming together to paint this breathtaking picture.
The Valley of Flowers.
We continued our trek.
And made our way through the massive valley.
With sights like these along the way.
Photographs were clicked everywhere and anywhere.
What amazing sights!
With gushing water all around us.
And more amazing landscapes!
We kept moving.
Through landscapes like these.
The Valley of Flowers.
The Valley of Flowers.
While a bunch of us decided to make a pit stop, Rebyl and I decided to head further and see what we could find. We were told that there was a glacier ahead. The only problem was that we did not have time to head further. Plus we were warned that there were bears which come out once it gets dark. Although I wasn’t sure how true this statement was, but chose to trust the locals on this one.
Rebyl and I decide to explore further.
We pulled back after a while, met up with the boys and had a quick lunch. It was already half past three in the afternoon and we needed to start heading back soon, before the bears got to us.
Lunch break, with a view.
Our lunch view.
We caught up with the rest of the gang.
We found a bench!
Clouds, mountains, river, lush green valley. What more can one want.
The magnificent valley, with a standard Mukesh, Rebyl and Danny to scale.
Some flowers in bloom.
A contemplative Mukesh contemplates.
We actually were just taking rest.
Another view of the valley.
And time for more rest.
We bumped into some tourists who were on their way back.
And even more stops for rest.
The unsung hero. Which did not get used a lot that day.
Danny secures Rebyl’s shoe.
The view on our way back.
By now we were quite exhausted.
And the mysterious ice block was still there.
We relaxed a bit while we waited for the others.
Pit stop by the mysterious ice block.
And we made our way back.
It was already past five in the evening and we needed to head back quickly. Forest officials patrolling the area urged us to move faster, before the bears came out. But that did not stop us from taking our breaks.
I’m not sure what we discussed, but we surely spoke about the view.
An exhausted Rebyl catches her breath.
Another photo of the Pushpawati river.
And here is a photo of the gang. From left to right — Mukesh, Joshua, Tulsi, Mohith, John Paul, Rahul, Daniel & Rebyl.
And that’s us. Minus me.
The Himalayas – Such beauties.
Luckily we made it back in time, and avoided being mauled to death by the mountain bears.
Finally, Ghangaria! Just before sunset.