Our trip covered a lot of places in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. But there are many many gems that this place has to offer. Some of them are quite near to where we went.
Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to make another trip to this region and visit these unseen beauties. Here is a list of what we missed:
Valley of Flowers
What is it: Way back in 1931, three British mountaineers, Frank S Smythe, Eric Shipton and R L Holdsworth, lost their way in an expedition on the Garhwal mountain range and chanced upon this valley that was full of flowers and they called it “Valley of Flowers”. It was earlier discovered way back in 1862 itself. But it gained popularity only later.
The valley is a world heritage site and it is a delight to visit. It has been visited by Indian yogis since time immemorial. It is an area rich in biodiversity. It is said that in different seasons different varieties of flowers grow here filling the valley with a riot of colours so very unique to this area.
How to get there: On the way to Badrinath, there is a small town called Govindghat. From here it is a trek of 14 kms to Ghangria. Then again a trek of 3 kms to Valley of Flowers.
Best time to visit: mid July to mid August will be the best time to see the flowers in full bloom.
What is it: Hemkund Sahid is a gurudwara, a sikh place of worhip in the Chamoli district. It is dedicated to the 10th guru, Sri Guru Govind Singh. It remains inaccessible in the winter from October to April. The sikh devotees clear a path to the temple every year in May as a part of seva. The only way to reach Hemkund Sahib is to trek all the way. It is at an elevation of 4632 mts above the sea level. There is a beautiful lake at the top.
How to get there: This trek too starts at Govindghat on the way to Badrinath. From there it is a 14 km trek to Ghangria, same as for valley of flowers. But from there it is a 6 km steep trek to the gurudwara. Because of its height, some pilgrims experiance Acute Mountain Sickness. Make yourself aware of all the risks before embarking on this beautiful trek.
Best time to visit: June to September
What is it: Auli is at an elevation of 2800 mts in Chamoli and has the most number of species of flowers that bloom between June and October, many of them endangered. It is a hiking and skiing destination and is being developed as a tourist destination for all seasons including winters. There is a ropeway and a ski lift too. The ski slopes are designed for both professional and learning skiers.
How to get there: Auli is only 16 kms from Joshimath.
What is it: As I already told you there are 5 temples of Lord Shiva called panch kedar in the Garhwal region. The main one being Kedarnath temple. The other four are Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhymaheshwar and Kapaleshwar. Except for Kapaleshwar, all others are closed in winter. It is customary to visit the Badrinath temple after completing the panch kedars.
So far, I have been able to visit only the first of the 5 kedars.
How to get there:
- Kedarnath – trek of 18 kms from Gaurikund
- Madhyamaheshwar – trek of 24 kms from Guptkashi
- Tungnath – trek of 4 kms from Chopta
- Rudranath – trek of about 24 kms from Gopeshwar
- Kapaleshwar – a small trek of 300 mts from Devgram village on thr Rishikesh-Badrinath road
I’m sure there may be many more places to see in this area. But these places that I have mentioned have caught my imagination. Maybe one day I may be able to visit them too.
Uttarakhand is rightfully called DevBhoomi or land of Gods. It is an enchanting, exciting and at the same time peaceful and most beautiful place on this Earth.