It's often regarded as a Botanical Wonderland. The high altitude meadows "Bugyal" in summer becomes carpeted with spectacular flowers of every colour and is aptly called 'Valley of Flowers' or VOF in short.
Overall it was a 9 day long affair in the month of August 2012 and yet another trip with usual gang of Jatin, Ravi and Naveen, the folks with whom I had visited Sikkim and Ladakh.
Here's a brief summary and retrospect before series of blog posts about the trip
- Totally it took three days for reaching the base of VOF from Bangalore. One day from Bangalore-Delhi-Haridwar by flight+train, second day by bus from Haridwar to Govindghat and third day by hike to base location Ghangria(Govinddham).
- We were very fortunate for not facing any landslide issues during the trip. It rained pretty heavily in Uttarakhand a week prior to our trip and also during subsequent week. In others words, the timing of our trip was perfect!
- Being at Ghangria, we covered famous Sikh pilgrimage place Hemkund Sahib, which is more steeper hike than trek to VOF.
- Apart from the two hikes we covered a few key locations in 'Dev Bhumi' Uttarakhand (Badrinath, Devprayag, Haridwar and Rishikesh)
- Mana, a village which is 3 kms from Badrinath and famously called 'Last Indian Village' is must visit place for its unique charm and mythological significance.
- There're no ATMs in Ghangria as well as Govindghat. Make sure that you and your trip-mates have sufficient cash in their wallets for bearing expenses of four days.
- Food items in Ghangria are expensive for obvious reasons :) ..For eg: the price of Bisleri bottle at Haridwar is Rs. 15, at Govindghat it's Rs. 20 and at Ghangria it's Rs. 40 ! The biggest rip-off of the trip was Bournmita Milk for Rs.70 at one of the hotels :)
- For Govindghat-Ghangria hike, hiring a porter for carrying baggages is highly recommended. It's a 13 km uphill task and we made a wrong decision of carrying part of luggage on our own. We had kept half of our luggage at a cloak room in Govindghat itself but it won't be required if you hire a porter for carrying your stuffs to Ghangria.
- During our visit there were record number of visitors for VOF National park. On 14th August 2012 the count was 257 and on 15th August 2012 it was 270 !
- Majority of visitors during our stay were from Bangalore! We could listen Kannada at every step in Ghangria.
- Beware of 'mule nuisance' on hiking trails. Once a mule stamped on my feet by mistake and I could not walk for 45 mins due to momentary pain. Also, be prepared bear with smell of mule's shit and slipperiness created by it.
- Don't compromise on footwear. I made a huge mistake by opting for an old shoe for this hike and also by wearing slippers for Hemkund hike.
- Since majority of hiking path is paved with stones, using a stick for the hike is recommended. Customized wooden sticks which are usually used by Hemkund Pilgrims are available for Rs. 20 at Govindghat/Ghangria
- Be prepared to live without your cellphone network at Ghangria. In Govindghat, only BSNL signal is available.
Per Head Expenses:
- Flight: Bangalore-Delhi-Bangalore: 10500 ( Strikes of Air India and Kingfisher made this thing expensive)
- Train: Delhi-Haridwar and Back: 107+107
- Bus: Haridwar to Govinghat: 350
- Mule: Ghangria to Hemkund and back: 950 (for one mule)
- Mule: Ghangria to Govindghat: 500 (for one mule)
Group Expenses (for 4 people):
- Jeep: Badrinath to Haridwar: 7000
- Jeep: Govindghat to Badrinath: 700
- Cab: Badrinath to Mana and back: 300
- Haridwar: 700 ( 1 night)
- Govindghat: 600 ( 1 night )
- Ghangria: 2400 ( 4 nights )
- Badrinath: 800 ( 1 night + dinner )