Valley of Flowers
“If there is heaven on earth, this is it, this is it, this is it!’’ The sheer beauty of “The Valley of flowers” left me transfixed, rooted to the spot. The main valley of river Alaknanda and Dhauli Ganga in the Garhwal Himalayas with river Pushpawati flowing through it. The day I said “Yes” to my sister for asking me “Do you want to come to the ‘Valley of Flowers’ trek with Green Earth Adventures? ‘’was one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made. I have toured many countries, lived for 10 years in the beautiful New England area and yet the moment I reached the “Valley of Flowers”, I was spellbound by this untouched heavenly magical landscape welcoming us with a carpet of flowers & streams.
A trek needs meticulous planning; bottomline….one has to be fit! Minimum required is prior testing by climbing Sinhagad or at least the small hillocks which abound in Pune, I didn’t .My original fitness and intermittently going to the gym must have helped me, but it was my first trek, am into my 40’s; I should have realized it was not going to be easy. Pune-Delhi- Haridwar journey was a breeze.28 of us climbed into a not so comfortable bus bracing for a 12 hr journey to Joshimath. 15 km before our destination, the axle breathed its last and while wondering what to do, a state transport empty bus turned up in 5 min and we literally flew to Joshimath. If this was not Gods smiling on us, I don’t know what is! A late evening visit to the temple, a good night’s rest and off we went to Govind Ghat beginning our trek with the song “Hanumanta ne kela pul...” It was a 10 km trek to Ghangaria, with not just the flora and the fauna taking our breath away! We huffed & puffed alongside mules, beauty all around, rain Gods smiling on us; we reached Ghangaria all in one piece!
We started for the “Valley of flowers” at 5 am, the deafening roar of the waterfall, the clouds, the mist and a plethora of flowers accompanying us as we climbed on and on , stopping only to soak in nature’s beauty in abundance and that was quite a few times. There’s no camera which can capture the true beauty of this heaven on earth, one can feel it only with the eyes of one’s soul. And that says it all.
The next day trek to Hemkund Sahib started with it raining cats & dogs, dense fog enveloping the mountains, hoping it would stop sometime, we climbed one step at a time, 6 km, no less, our fingers frozen and many of us thoroughly soaked, gaining a height of 4000 feet, passing many Sikh pilgrims on horses or dolis, greeting them with “ Waheguru”, we could hear the chanting hoping we were near but this was one journey which refused to end…But end it did and we drank steaming hot tea, the Prasad in the Gurudwara and Langar seemed to melt our woes. On our way down, sharing our life stories sipping lemon tea on roadside shacks, we didn’t realize when the veil was dropped, when co-travelers became friends, the heavens too opened & we were met with unparalled beauty of the mighty Himalayas, the waterfalls, the glacier, the flowers and the company, all making it a heady combination!
The next day took us to the Badrinath shrine, again we were a blessed lot as the road closed behind us due to landslides . Looking up at the mighty peak Nilkanth, bathing in the hot water sulphur spring, visiting Mana, the last village from the border of India & Tibet, all seeped in mythology, then overnighting in Rudra Prayag, our hotel overlooking the confluence of rivers Alaknanda & Mandakini, continuing to Rishikesh and the Triveni Sangam…it was a mind-blowing experience.
All that begins, must end and so did our 10 days 50 km trek but what stayed is not just the unsurpassed beauty or the fury of the Himalayas but artists, singers, botanists, doctors, teachers, trekkers, lawyers, businessmen all leaving their masks behind and humming “ Mazhi Ladki Susheela…, Humma humma, Sakhu geli panyala.., playing cards,Antakshari and having the time of their lives!
Kedar Gogte, we need more like you!