The flowers in the valley bloom because of heavy monsoon rain and intermittent bright sunshine. But this year, the monsoon has been really ferocious and there hasn’t been a single day of sunshine since June 19th when the Valley opened. Till the day we got there. On our way trekking up to the valley, some seasoned trekkers told us that it was the first day of sunshine in two months and that we were really lucky.
The valley is actually like a really large – 10 sq km – cross between natural landscape and maintained park. You can go in only in the day time – in after 6 am and out by 6 pm, you pay an entrance fee at the ‘gate’, there are pretty clear paths, some of them paved, all around the valley that you can follow, and they have people working all over the valley every day to de-weed so that the flowers can go grow without disturbance. But there are barely a handful of people who come here, as the bulk of the tourists are in Ghangria for the Hemkund trek, so we had a quiet day, which was a welcome change.
The gate to the valley is less than a km from the village of Ghangria but the valley itself begins a further 3 km in. Here is our first glimpse of the valley, and a close up of the glacier. There’s another one much further into the valley, but we didn’t make it that far.
For the first few hours that we were in the valley, the sun was beating down hard and we didn’t really see the scale of flowers that we had expected to, and because of the weather, some of the more exotic species of flowers hadn’t blossomed.
But the valley itself is breathtakingly beautiful, with or without flowers. It could very well be called the valley of clouds, because there are white puffs of clouds everywhere, constantly moving and changing shape at a ridiculously fast pace, giving the whole place a very magical and sometimes eerie feel.
Towards evening though, a light drizzle began and the entire valley was covered with rain clouds, and the filtered sunlight brought alive the colours of the flowers and suddenly we thought we could see many more of them everywhere. We weren’t entirely sure whether it was just a trick of light, or if the flowers had actually bloomed in the few hours of sunlight while we were there.
Iswar, a little over-inspired by the mist…
And here’s our little encyclopaedia of flowers from the valley
And finally, this is the bark of this really cool tree called Bhojpatra. This peely bark was apparently used as paper in ancient times.