If words could describe the Valley of Flowers National Park in Uttarakhand, then, enchanting, scintillating and magical would come pretty close to doing justice to its outstanding natural beauty. Spread over 87.5 sq km, the bio-diversity hotspot is known for its scenic beauty comprising alpine shrubs and meadows, milky white streams, snow-clad peaks and pristine air.
Located in the upper reaches of Bhyundar valley near Joshimath in Chamoli district of Gharwal region, the rolling landscape of the national park stands in stark contrast to the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park to the east.
Valley of Flowers and Nanda Devi National Park, together, constitute the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. The Valley of Flowers was declared a National Park in 1982 and was included in the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 2005. Initially known as Bhyundar Valley, the nature’s wonder was renamed in 1931 by British mountaineer Frank S Smythe. However, the valley was known to the locals who used it as a pasture for their cattle. The valley was discovered when British mountaineer Frank S Smythe chanced upon it in 1931 while returning from an expedition to Mount Kamet. He named the place Valley of Flowers and also wrote a book with the same name. The highest point of the park is Gauri Parbat, about 6719 meter above mean sea level.
The Valley of Flowers is also believed to be the place from where Hanuman brought the magical herb to resuscitate Lakshman in the Hindu epic Ramayan. The legend still holds value as many people continue to believe that Sanjeevani, the magical herb, continues to grow in the park. Still pristine and enchanting, there are other legends associated with the park. Locals believe it is the playground of fairies and that they descend to the valley in the absence of humans.
The sight of a whole valley covered with flowers of every hue and colour does indeed give it a magical quality. More than 650 species of flowers including Brahmakamal, Blue Poppy and Cobra Lily can be found in the park.
The Valley of Flowers presents a different look each day when it becomes accessible from May to September. There are no human settlements inside the national park and grazing has been completely banned.
The Valley is accessible from last week of May after the snow melts. After the snow melts and the monsoons begin, the plants begin to bloom in July and August. In September, the plants prepare for over eight-months of hibernation. By the end of September, the valley is again carpeted under snow.
This richly diverse area is home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. The valley is also home to several fauna like Himalayan musk deer, yellow-throated marten, snow leopard, blue sheep, black and brown bears. You can also find a wide variety of birds here, like Himalayan golden eagle, snow partridge, Himalayan snow cock, Himalayan monal, snow pigeon and sparrow. Numerous species of butterflies and insects too can be found here.
Absence of road connectivity has helped save the pristine nature of the park. Trekking or riding a mule’s back is the only way to reach the Valley of Flowers. Joshimath, the nearest town, is a popular pilgrimage as it is the winter abode of Lord Badrinarayan and also the seat of the math (monastery) founded by Adi Shankaracharya.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN VALLEY OF FLOWERS
Valley of Flowers does not offer accommodation facilities inside the park. Hotels and lodges can be found at Ghangaria. Budget hotels at Ghangaria cost around Rs 1500. You can also find dormitories in Ghangaria.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN VALLEY OF FLOWERS
The park does not offer any options to eat. It is advisable to carry enough food to last through your trek. Ghangaria is the where one can find restaurants and hotels.
BEST TIME TO VISIT VALLEY OF FLOWERS
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Valley of flowers is as given below. The best time to visit Valley of flowers is also specified.
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