Valley of Flowers
A profusion of wildflowers - iris, violets, roses, primulas, anemones, potentillas - mark this valley, celebrated all over the world for its lush beauty. A narrow river flows through the valley, now declared a national park. Reached by an easy bridle-path from Govindghat, visitors are no longer allowed to camp within the valley.
The valley had always been known to the local people who avoided getting to this area for fear of fairies, who they believed, would take them away. It was in 1931 that Frank Smythe and Holdsworth stumbled into the valley while returning from their successful Kamet expedition and were “at once transported from a region of solemn austerity to a fairy land of dainty flowers, most of them dwarf but brilliant in colour”. Smythe wrote about the valley and its flowers - “their carpet is a celestial one, breathing innocence and joy to the world overburdened with sophistication and sorrow”. His writing invoked a great interest of the people in this valley, both at home and abroad.
Legends associate this valley area with “Gandhamadan” from where Hanuman of Ramayana collected “Sanjeevani” herb to revive Laksmana. Hanuman had to visit far-flung areas in his search for the life-saving herb, some named after him. He visited Hanuman Chatti near Yamunotri, Hanuman Tibba near Gangotri, Hanuman peak near Nandadevi, Hanuman Chatti near Badrinath and ultimately the valley of flowers or Nanankanan as it is also known as.
The best time to visit the valley is during July and August when innumerable varieties of flowers bloom and present a spectacular sight. The valley itself is 10 kms. long and about 2 kms. wide in conical shape, with the river Pushpavati flowing through it. After one gets down at Govindghat on the main Badrinath highway, it involves a trek of 15 kms. to reach Ghangaria wherefrom a further short trek of 5 kms. leads one to the edge of the valley. The valley ranges between 3352 and 3658 mts. in altitude.