Outdoors

Valley of Flowers Trek: Return to the Himalayas

By Pravin Shekar

Valley of Flowers Trek: Return to the Himalayas

Words & Photography: Pravin Shekar, travel 3Sixty° travelsmith

The Himalayas pulled me back a few months after my first trek, this time with a different set of trekkers but the same romance as I got to see a different version of her: Sometimes rainy, sometimes angry, but always aware!

Bonding with the better half

Fuelled by friends, fulfilled by the Himalayas, our gang of 16 (including 5 couples) signed up for the Indiahikes Valley of Flowers trek. After six months of planning, cajoling and coaxing the group to come together, we travelled from Chennai to New Delhi to Haridwar to Govind Ghat.

couples Valley of Flowers, India_Pravin Shekar resized

The way to the Valley of Flowers is a pilgrimage route and we were never alone! Devotees, dhabawallas (lunch deliverymen), donkeys, we had constant company throughout. Food was never going to be an issue in this trek.

Introduced to the spirit of trekking and communal living, we started off in earnest from Govind Ghat to Ganghria. The first day saw us through with sun, rain, heat and cold.

Valley of Flowers, India_Pravin Shekar (268 of 524) resized
Valley of Flowers, India_Pravin Shekar resized (214 of 524) resized

Rains were with us for two days, romance on all four days and more. I did mention five couples—a recipe for selfies, group-fies and a lot of couple pictures. Photo opportunities, love shots and much camaraderie, this was one trek where the fun continued through the night as well.

tents Valley of Flowers India_Pravin Shekar

Ganghria, though a small hamlet, has its share of small restaurants. We had jalebis (sugar-coated deep-fried pretzels) and pakoras (vegetable fritters), followed by dinner and then team games at one of the trekker’s rooms. Nights were young, the fun unlimited.

Hemkund Sahib

A pivot thanks to incessant rains saw us changing plans for day two: Hemkund Sahib instead of the Valley of Flowers. Hemkund Sahib is considered a must-visit place for Sikhs. It is also the highest gurdwara (Sikh holy temple) in the world.

river Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

What a walk! Wet and wonderful—a climb to reach the gurdwara established at a height of 4300 metres, with committed pilgrims en route.

Hemkund Sahib, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

We also had to share the route with mules and their output, mule dung! Apparently, the mules eat through the night and it was rather obvious through the day as we traversed to avoid contact, a cautionary approach that lasted till we hit a certain height, after which it was only one step in front of another!

mules Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

The highlight of our trip

A constant drizzle accompanied us throughout the trek. Snaking paths, landslide valleys, beautiful vistas and great company! The path seemed perilous, dotted with small rivulets and waterfalls. At times, we had to cross the streams using makeshift bridges, which added to the overall mystique of the trek! The guides supported us throughout the journey.

crossing Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

The deeper we went into the valley, the prettier the sight—and the more jostling for selfies and pics. Romantic poses abounded!

Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

couple Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

On this leg, the mules were replaced with human pack-carriers who helped the young and the old to cross over to view the beauty. We had a quick lunch under rocks, followed by more pictures and videos.

carrier Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

rain Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

Tiredness is forgotten when you are in the flowery belly of the mountains. Peaks and rocks all around as you turn around 360 degrees to soak in the surroundings, the vistas and the company.

Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

Love, at first sight, at every sight!

I am in love with the Himalayas, and am at her mercy. Each trek to this beauty brings out a different facet, as she coaxes you to come back and experience her more.

Valley of Flowers, Himalayas, India_Pravin Shekar

This love will linger on as I yearn for the next trip to another part of my beloved Himalayas.

GETTING THERE
From Delhi, take the train to the ancient city of Haridwar (3.5 hrs). Adventure tour operators make arrangements from here to the town of Govind Ghat (10 hrs by van).

AirAsia flies to Delhi from various destinations. For flight schedules and fare info, visit airasia.com.

About the Author

Pravin Shekar

Pravin Shekar is a parallel entrepreneur, startup specialist and raconteur passionate about travelling, networking and photography. He has won the Grand Prize in the National Geographic Traveler magazine–Uttarakhand tourism photography competition. His work has been published in the Deccan Chronicle and Lonely Planet magazine.

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