Director: Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar; Cinematographer: Anushka Meenakshi, Iswar Srikumar
Duration: 00:09:38; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 100.193; Saturation: 0.036; Lightness: 0.506; Volume: 0.103; Cuts per Minute: 1.658
Valley of Flowers trek begins from Govind Ghat, which is usually less than a 24
journey from Delhi by 2 trains, a bus and a shared taxi, with brief halts at
Haridwar, Rishikesh and Joshimath. But thanks to multiple landslides, cancelled
buses, and our own exhaustion, the journey took three days with overnight stops
at Rishikesh, Chamoli and Joshimath.
Ghat is just one long street with shops, dhabas and pretty drab looking multi
storey guest houses on either side. The only bright construction is the Gurudwara,
at the far end of the street. The town comes alive only from June to October,
when thousands of Sikh pilgrims flood this place to begin the trek to Hemkund.
The first 14 km of this trek is the same as the one that we had to make to get
to the Valley of Flowers, so we had plenty of company along the way.
14 km path is paved with stones and even has hand railings for some of the way,
but the path is quite often relentlessly steep, winding up from Govind Ghat to
the village of Ghangria. There are a few people who get carried up to Ghangria
on horse or mule-back, or by porters – either in cane back-packs, or in these
palanquin-like platforms hoisted by four people, but the majority of people do
the trek on foot. In fact all along the route, you see people of all ages,
shapes, sizes and fitness levels, some bounding up effortlessly, others puffing
and panting like we were, but all unshakingly pushing on upwards. At many times
we were stopped by pilgrims who were doing the return journey who would hand
out glucose or candy to us, or others who would give us an encouraging word or
two to carry on.
flowers in the valley bloom because of heavy monsoon rain and intermittent
bright sunshine. But the year we made this journey, the monsoon has been really
ferocious and there hadn’t been a single day of sunshine since the Valley had opened.
Till the day we got there. On our way trekking up to the valley, some seasoned
trekkers told us that it was the first day of sunshine in two months and that
we were really lucky.
valley is actually a large – 10 sq km – cross between natural landscape and
maintained park. You can go in only in the day time – in after 6 am and out by
6 pm, you pay an entrance fee at the ‘gate’, there are pretty clear paths, some
of them paved, all around the valley that you can follow, and they have people
working all over the valley every day to de-weed so that the flowers can go
grow without disturbance. But there are barely a handful of people who come
here, as the bulk of the tourists are in Ghangria for the Hemkund trek.
the first few hours that we were in the valley, the sun was beating down hard
and we didn’t really see the scale of flowers that we had expected to, and
because of the weather, some of the more exotic species of flowers hadn’t
the valley itself is breathtakingly beautiful, with or without flowers. It
could very well be called the valley of clouds, because there are white puffs
of clouds everywhere, constantly moving and changing shape at a ridiculously
fast pace, giving the whole place a very magical and sometimes eerie feel.
evening though, a light drizzle began and the entire valley was covered with
rain clouds, and the filtered sunlight brought alive the colours of the flowers
and suddenly we thought we could see many more of them everywhere. We weren’t
entirely sure whether it was just a trick of light, or if the flowers had
actually bloomed in the few hours of sunlight while we were there. Almost in
protest, the clouds suddenly came streaming in and formed a soft white padding
on the entire valley.