With a British mountaineer stumbling upon it in Uttarakhand in 1931, India got its Valley of Flowers. The high-altitude meadows, locally called bugyals, are beautiful, swaying tall wildflowers that bloom their best on a sunny day. These meadows are an absolute sight when they ripple in the breeze being framed by mighty snow-capped mountains on all sides. Also Read - Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat Reverses Trivendra's Decision, to Remove 51 Temples From State Control
The Valley of Flowers is home to 300 species of flowers that make this World Heritage Site a unique and valuable resource in medicine. Most flowers bloom during the monsoon season in July and August, when the rains make access difficult and hazardous. It’s a misconception that the valley isn’t worth visiting outside peak flower season, because even without all of them blooming, it’s still ridiculously beautiful. Also Read - Uttarakhand: Night Curfew in Dehradun, Schools Shut in 3 Districts Amid Rising COVID Cases
To reach this 87-sq-km park, you will have to do a full-day hike from Govindghat to Ghangaria, which leads you to outside the park. The fabled valley begins 2 km uphill from Ghangaria’s ticket office and continues for another 5 km. A tougher hike from there to the sacred lake of Hem Kund. Overnight stays aren’t allowed either in the Valley of Flowers or at Hem Kund so you must stay in Ghangaria. This one-street village shuts down outside the pilgrimage season (June to October). Also Read - Uttarakhand Forest Fire: 4 People Dead, Property Worth 37 Lakh Gutted in Blaze; Centre Orders Deployment of NDRF Teams
Hem Kund, set at 4300 m, is one of the most important Sikh pilgrimage sites in the world. It is a sacred lake surrounded by seven peaks where Sikh Guru Gobind Singh is believed to have meditated in a previous life. It’s believed that a dip in the icy-cold waters purifies one’s soul, and tens of thousands visit here each day between May and October. The experience is worth every bit the steep hike up from the village of Ghangaria.