No human soul lives around the valley though it is not soulless completely! The valley remained unknown to the world until 1931, when arrived there like Alice in Wonderland, six British Mountaineers, who lost their way while returning from a successful expedition to Mt Kamet. Numerous wild flowers cover the Valley in monsoon and create a magical sight of a wonderland. Frank S. Smythe, one of the six British mountaineers, while mentioning about the Valley wrote, “it was impossible to take a step without crushing a flower”. They named it the Valley of Flowers and thereafter the valley has become a popular place for summer expedition.
Along the Ganges, the road from Rishikesh goes 70km ascending all the way to Devprayag. Prayag is the confluence of rivers. Devprayag is the place where river Bhagirathi and Alakananda meet. From this point of convergence, river Ganga takes its name and flows downward.
Devprayag: Originating from Gomukh, river Bhagirathi is flowing down from the left (in the photo below), meets here with river Alakananda which is flowing down from the right (in the photo below) from Satopanth Glacier above the Badrinath valley. Devprayag is one of the Panchaprayags (five confluences). All five prayags fall on the road which goes to Badrinath or Valley of Flowers.
Dhari Devi Temple: On this road ahead, falls the next confluence called Rudraprayag. We reached a village called Kalyasaur which is located 19 Kms before Rudraprayag. This place is famous for a very pious temple of Goddess Kali also known as Dhari Devi. The entry gate of the temple lies along the highway to Badrinath, and a narrow path down to the river Alakanada took us to the temple.
Originally the temple was 30 meter down from its present height. For construction of a dam, the temple was elevated and the idol of Dhari Devi was relocated in the present elevated temple. The locals believe that, it was due to this relocation of the idol of Dhari Devi, the devastating flood took so many lives after the cloudburst near Kedarnath Temple in 2013. Construction of this temple is yet to be finished though visitors are allowed to worship. Photography inside the temple is prohibited. But the image of Goddess Dhari Devi is wonderful to behold. On our way back, we visited a small temple of Bhairo Baba which lies along the same path.
Rudraprayag: The next prayag to come was Rudraprayag! We set off again and soon reached there. It is the confluence of river Mandakini and Alakananda.
Originating from Kedarnath, river Mandakini is flowing from the top (in the photo above) and meets here with Alakananda which is flowing down from the right.
Karnaprayag: The prayag next we reached was the Karnaprayag. It is the confulence of river Pinder Ganga and Alakananda.
Originating from Pinder Glacier in Bageshwar, river Pinder Ganga is flowing from the top (in the photo above) and meets here with Alakananda which is flowing down from the left. These two rivers meet at a place which does not allow an easy click of the confluence. We climbed to many high points and at last found a place to capture the confluence.
Nandaprayag: Nandaprayag was the next confluence to come. We arrived there and saw the river Nandakini, originating in Nanda Devi peaks, is flowing from the right (in the photo below) and meets here with Alakananda which is flowing from the left.
We continued our journey gazing the scenic Himalayan beauties. The beautiful village ‘Gopeswar’ on a mountain top held us for a moment before we proceeded further. The scenic road continued ascending all the way to a beautiful mountain village called Pipalkoti.
When ‘Joshimath’, our destination for the night stay, was only about 14 Kms away, we saw a perfect Z-shape road ascending towards it. Climbing all the way through the Z-shape road and crossing the beautiful waterfalls we reached Joshimath at 06.15pm. We checked in the Hotel Kamet. It is an average hotel with basic amenities and its super deluxe room cost us Rs.1100/-.
It was 6.30 in the next morning; we set off our journey to Ghangaria which is the base camp for Valley of Flowers. The nearest motor head to Ghangaria is Govindghat which lies at a distance of 24 Kms from Joshimath and falls on the road to Badrinath.
Vishnu Prayag: Yesterday, we saw four prayags. The fifth one was not too far from Joshimath and we arrived soon at the ‘Vishnu Prayag’. It is the confluence of Dhauli Ganga and Alakananda. Dhauli Ganga is flowing from Dhaulagiri Mountains (on the bottom right in the photo below) and meets here with Alakananda (flowing from the top right).
Trek to Ghangaria: We soon reached Govindghat. From here, these days, an off road goes 3Kms to a village called Pulna. We preferred to cover the distance by local Jeep.
From Pulna the trek of about 14 Km starts for Ghangaria. After the cloudburst of 2013, the distance of new trek to Ghangaria has increased by 1.5 – 2 Km. Not only that, it became steeper too! It is a narrow stone paved trail which goes along the river Lakshman Ganga. The flood of 2013 in the river Lakshman Ganga washed away trails in many places which are now substituted by steep longer roads. We went through the riverbed and crossed over the makeshift bridge on the river Lakshman Ganga before hiking the final steeper trail to Ghangaria.
The hikes on the trek to Ghangaria were five times more than those small descends. But each hike came with an inspiration to enjoy the return journey through a relaxing downhill. With such a great inspiration we were climbing each ascend and were greeted with lesser oxygen due to the gain in altitude. Nevertheless, when your destination is a magical land, the Valley of Flowers, you accept everything whatever comes on the way! So for a little less than five hours we enjoyed (Oh really!) the hike of 14 Kms to Ghangaria and retired early to bed with a hope that the Valley would greet us tomorrow with lots of flowers on its alpine meadow.
The difficulty level of this trek from Pulna to Ghangaria is between easy and moderate. We took the Journey from Rishikesh to Ghangaria on 15/08/2015 and 16/08/2015
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