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Thread: The Mesmerising Valley of Flowers

  1. #6
    Leaving the pebbled track one reaches the last of the major streams, called Dona gair stream. If one has reached this point, it means one has explored the best part of the Valley. This area has a completely different character. Epilobium latifolia, which is aptly called River Beauty, is seen growing along the banks of the stream. A new pink species of Geranium appears here, which is not seen in most parts of the Valley.

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    There is Himalayan Thyme all over on the rocks, many times growing together with some unidentifiable yellow flowers. We decide not to go ahead beyond this point, and start our journey back to Ghangria. We started trekking down as the local guards told us that the rains would block the roads at anytime and we would get stuck. We hastened our steps down the muddy and rainy slopes through the dense forest and diverse floral splendors, making the trek extremely adventurous. We had to be extremely careful while descending along the steep and narrow path to avoid any fall.

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    The memories of the Valley would remain in our minds forever. The park which is spread over an area of 87.5 km was declared a national park in 1982. With over 500 species of flowers this was indeed paradise on earth. This place also has mythological significance. Legends associate this valley with area from where Hanumanji of Ramayana collected ‘Sanjeevani’ herb to revive Lakshman and this valley had also been known to the inhabitants as the Bhuyundar valley. After exploring the Valley, we are back to our hotel room in Ghangria fully drenched in the rains. Ghangria generally has no electricity throughout the day. Power comes only in the evenings, around 6-7 PM. There was still no signal in our mobiles as this place was at a greater height than Govindghat. We found a STD booth with a single satellite phone. We paid Rs. 20 for a minute’s call. Because of rain and little sun, our wet clothes and shoes would not dry and we had run out of fresh clothes. The next day we had plans to visit Hemkund Sahib.

    Day 7
    August 12th, 2011

    The high altitude Lokpal lake, known as Hemkund ( 4329 mts.) lies in heavenly environs. A steep trek from Ghangria leads one to this spot in about four to six hours. It is an important pilgrimage for both Hindus and Sikhs, as well as for people from other faiths. There is a Sikh Gurudwara and a Lakshman temple built on the bank of the lake. Encircled by seven snow clad peaks and their associated glaciers, it reflects its surroundings enchantingly on its crystal clear serene waters. The glaciers from Hathi Parvat and Saptrishi peaks feed the lake and a small stream called Himganga flows out of this lake. As alluded to, in the holy Granth Sahib, Guru Govind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikh faith had meditated on the bank of this lake in one of his earlier births. On 15th April 1699, he started the new brotherhood called the Khalsa (meaning the pure, from the Persian word 'Khales') an inner core of the faithful, accepted by baptism (amrit). It is also believed that Lakshman, the younger brother of Ram, meditated by the lake and regained his health after being severely wounded by Meghnath, son of the demon Ravana, during battle. Despite its ancient connections, Hemkund/Lokpal was discovered by a Sikh Havaldar, Solan Singh and became a major pilgrimage centre only after 1930.
    It was raining from the morning and we learnt from the locals that the roads to Hemkund were very bad in that weather and hardly any people were going there. We decided to start our downhill trek, back to Govindghat.

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    We are sad to leave Ghangria as our tour would be left incomplete without the visit to the Hemkund, but still the brighter side was that it would inspire us to come back to this place once again in the near future. We packed our bags and left our hotel at 8.30 a.m. after having our breakfast.

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    The climb down was much easier, and we saw new visitors huffing and puffing while coming up, and remembered our difficult uphill trek. It took us around 4 hrs to reach Govindghat. We checked into Hotel Ganga once again and had a hot bath. While coming down it rained all over again and the roads were slippery and wet. The previous day’s rain had made the path rockier. At various places of the trek there were streams gushing down from the adjoining mountain slopes that we had to crossover on foot. After having lunch at Badrish we took some time off and clicked a few snaps.

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    Our driver told us that the roads to Badrinath were closed due to the rain and that there had been a few more landslides on the way to Joshimath. The hotel people also informed us that there was some problem with the water supply and that we would get water only till the reserve water supply of the hotel was there. There was also a dearth of drinking water. Above all the current would also go off after sometime and may be later we would not get any food also. All this worried us so much that we contemplated to leave the place immediately, but after sometime we decided to stay for the night and leave Govindghat early in the morning the following day.

    Day 8
    August 13th, 2011

    We bid Govindghat goodbye at 7.00 a.m. and headed off to Haridwar. If it would require we were open to stay over at somewhere in between for the night. We passed through Joshimath at a distance of 20 km without any hindrance and were soon spiraling ourselves down the roads to Haridwar. We savored the beauty of the meadows, the gorgeous Himalayan Mountains, towering green trees and the valleys as we descended down. The picturesque views from atop were mesmerizing and the meandering river down below provides one with breathtaking images of the gorges. We passed through many active landslide zones once again.

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    It took both instinct and precision to cross over such places. We could see the debris left from previous slides and the roads were majorly bumpy. There were people toiling away in the morning sun clearing the roads all day through to make them motorable. We felt a deep sense of thankfulness toward them. In no time we passed Vishnu Prayag, Nand Prayag and Karna Prayag. On our way we saw the entrance to the ropeway service taking one to Auli, which was nearby. We covered a distance of 169 kms and stopped at Srinagar at 2.00 p.m. to have our lunch at the GMVN guest house. The food was good and place was big and airy. With our stomachs full we started off once again. We reached Devprayag at around 4.30 p.m. and decided to call it a day. We were tired and the place with its serene beauty seemed to be just the place to spend the night. We checked into Dev Ganga. It was a great place having magnificent views of the prayag which was very near to it. Our hotel was just on the banks of the confluenece of the Bhagirati and the Alakananda. The ambience of the dusk mixed with the distant mikes playing the bhajans of Ganga Aarti just made our day. We could see the aarti standing on the balcony adjoining our rooms. It was very peaceful with only the rippling sound of the cool waters of the Ganga and bhajans marking the aarti. It was all over in 30 mins and we were left with peaceful souls. We freshened up and seated ourselves in the balcony.

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    It was Rakhshabandhan and in the darkness of the sky the full moon looked enchanting. The huge silvery ball looked spectacular through the pine trees and we gazed at its beauty trying to capture a shot or two. The wind was soothing uplifting our otherwise tired selves. Later we had our dinner and went off to sleep.
    Last edited by shubha_dg; 13th September 2012 at 02:08 PM.

  2. #7
    Day 9
    August 14th, 2011

    The morning started on a relaxed note as we had already descended quite a bit and our train to Kolkata would leave Haridwar at 12.00 a.m. So we had plenty of time at hand.

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    We decided that we would visit Rishikesh on our way. We started off for Rishikesh at 12 noon and reached there at 1.30 p.m.

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    Rishikesh is 71 kms away from Devprayag. Our car was parked and we started walking to the famous Laxman Jhula. This suspended iron bridge was build in 1939 and has been a major attraction among the tourists to Rishikesh. It is said that Lakshman crossed Ganga on jute ropes. The Ganges appears very panaromic from the bridge. One can enjoy the pictursque surroundings and the cool breeze from the River while standing on the bridge. Close to Lakshman Jhula is the Ram Jhula - This suspended bridge was recently build between Shivanand Ashram and Sawarg Ashram. It is similar to the Lakshman Jhula. Ram Jhula is also known as Shivanand Jhula. Rishikesh was very crowded and we made our way through the jam packed bylanes to reach to the bridge. We enjoyed our moments on the bridge and had a wonderful snack time at the German Bakery close to the bridge.

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    It took us an hour to reach Haridwar. We checked into a moderate hotel to freshen up. We had a few hours left before our train departs from Haridwar. Utilizing the time we visited the Vishnu Ghat and had some mind-blowing Lassi, Rabri and Kulfi. We had our dinner and made our day to the stations to board the Kumbha Express. Our train would reach Kolkata on the 16th.

    Day 11
    August 16th, 2011

    We reached Kolkata at 3.00 a.m. and with sleepy eyes headed off to get the taxis taking us to our respective homes. It was a good journey with its ups and downs. Although we could not visit the Hemkund Sahib, all’s well that ends well. In spite of the fact that our itinerary as planned was not fully successful, we did manage to befriend some amazing people sharing the same interests. We kept Hemkund as our inspiration to visit the Dev Bhumi once again in the near future giving food to our wanderlust souls.
    Last edited by shubha_dg; 13th September 2012 at 02:10 PM.

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