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Valley of Flowers National Park






Valley of Flowers National Park is an Indian national park, Nestled high in West Himalaya, is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty. It is located in Uttarakhand state. This richly diverse area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. The gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park to the east. Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya. The park stretches over an expanse of 87.50 km². Both parks are encompassed in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (223,674 ha) which is further surrounded by a buffer zone (5,148.57 km²). This Reserve is in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2004.

The Valley of Flowers is an outstandingly beautiful high-altitude Himalayan valley that has been acknowledged as such by renowned mountaineers and botanists in literature for over a century and in Hindu mythology for much longer. Its ‘gentle’ landscape, breathtakingly beautiful meadows of alpine flowers and ease of access complement the rugged, mountain wilderness for which the inner basin of Nanda Devi National Park is renowned.

Valley of flower is splashed with colour as it bloomed with hundreds different beautiful flowers, taking on various shades of colours as time progressed. Valley was declared a national park in 1982, and now it is a World Heritage Site. The locals, of course, always knew of the existence of the valley, and believed that it was inhabited by fairies.

While trekking towards valley of flowers, one can experience the beauty of shining peaks fully covered with snow. One can also see the beautiful view of surrounding greenery and various running streams with crystal clear water.

The valley is home to many celebrated flowers like the Brahmakamal, the Blue Poppy and the Cobra Lily. It is a much sought after haunt for flower-lovers, botanists and of course trekkers, for whom a sufficient excuse to embark on a mission to reach a place, is that it exists.

The Valley of Flowers is internationally important on account of its diverse alpine flora, representative of the Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows ecoregion. The rich diversity of species reflects the valley’s location within a transition zone between the Zaskar and Great Himalayas ranges to the north and south, respectively, and between the Eastern Himalaya and Western Himalaya flora. A number of plant species are internationally threatened, several have not been recorded from elsewhere in Uttarakhand and two have not been recorded in Nanda Devi National Park. The diversity of threatened species of medicinal plants is higher than has been recorded in other Indian Himalayan protected areas . The entire Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve lies within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA). Seven restricted-range bird species are endemic to this part of the EBA.

The Valley of Flowers was declared a national park in 1982. This part of Uttarakhand, in the upper reaches of Garhwal, is inaccessible through much of the year. The area lies on the Zanskar range of the Himalayas with the highest point in the national park being Gauri Parbat at 6,719 m above sea level.

History & Legends

According to the Ramayan this is the place where Hanuman searched for Sanjivani to cure Lakshman when he was injured by Indrajit(Meghnada), the son of Ravana.

The place had disappeared from the tourist map due to its inaccessible approach but in 1931 Frank S. Smythe a British mountaineer lost his way while returning from a successful expedition to Mt.Kamet and happened upon this valley which was full of flowers. He was so attracted towards the beauty of the place he named it the "Valley of Flowers". He authored a book called "The Valley of Flowers" which unveiled the beauty and floral splendours of the valley and thus threw open the doors of this verdant jewel to nature-enthusiasts all over the world.

In 1939 Miss Margaret Legge, a botanist deputed by the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh arrived at the valley for further studies. While she was traversing some rocky slopes to collect flowers, she slipped off and was lost for ever. Her sister later visited the valley and erected a memorial near the spot. The memorial is still there.

Prof. Chandra Prakash Kala, a botanist deputed by the Wildlife Institute of India, carried out a remarkable research study on the floristics and conservation of the valley for a decade starting in 1993. He made an inventory of 520 alpine plants exclusively growing in this national park and authored two important books - "The Valley of Flowers - Myth and Reality" and "Ecology and Conservation of the Valley of Flowers National Park, Garhwal Himalaya'.

Management

There is no settlement in the national park and grazing in the area has been banned. The park is open only in summer between June and October, being covered by heavy snow during the rest of the year.

The Trek

Getting to the Valley of Flowers requires a trek of about 17 km. The nearest major town is Joshimath in Garhwal, which has convenient road connections from Haridwar and Dehradun, both about 270 km from Joshimath.

Govindghat is a small place close to Joshimath (around one hour distance), from where the trek starts.From Gobindghat, a trek of 14 km brings trekkers to the Ghangaria, a small settlement located about 3 km from the valley. The valley starts near a gorge over the Pushpawati River.

Fauna

The park is home to tahr, snow leopard, musk deer, red fox, common langur, bharal, serow, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan brown bear, Pika (Mouse hare) and a huge variety of butterflies. Among the important birds and Pheasant are, Himalayan Golden Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Snow Partridge, Himalayan Snowcock, Himalayan Monal, Snow Pigeon, Sparrow Hawk etc.

Flora

Flowers mostly orchids, poppies, primulas, marigold, daisies and anemones carpet the ground. Alpine forests of birch and rhododendron cover parts of the park's area. A decade long study of Prof. C.P. Kala from 1993 onwards concludes that the Valley of Flowers endows with 520 species of higher plants (angiosperms, gymnosperms and pteridophytes), of these 498 are flowering plants. The park has many species of medicinal plants including Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Aconitum violaceum, Polygonatum multiflorum, Fritillaria roylei and Podophyllum hexandrum.

Species

1.      Rhododendron arboreum     
2.      Primula denticuleta     
3.      Iris kemaonensis     
4.      Fritillaria roylei     
5.      Lilium oxypetalum     
6.      Arisaema costautum     
7.      Thermopsisa barbata     
8.      Rosa macrophylla     
9.      Caltha palustris     
10.     Fragaria nubicola     
11.     Saxifraga roylei   
12.     Anemone obtusiloba     
13.     Cypripedium himalaicum     
14.     Rheum australe     
15.     Phlomis oracteosa     
16.     Hackelia uncinata     
17.     Senecio jacquemotiamus     
18.     Ligularia amplexicaulis     
19.     Morina longifolia     
20.     Geum elatum     
21.     Geranium wallichianum     
22.     Impatiense sulcata     
23.     Meconopsis aculeata     
24.     Delphenium roylei     
25.     Aconitum hookeri     
26.     Thalictrum reniforme     
27.     Potentilla atrosanguinea     
28.     Sedum ewersii   
29.     Dactylorhiza hatagirea     
30.     Bistorta affinis     
31.     Stachys sericee     
32.     Nepeta connata     
33.     Pedicularis hoffmeistri     
34.     Swertia hookeri     
35.     Gentiana ornata     
36.     Gaultheria erichophy     
37.     Codonopsis affinis     
38.     Angelica cyelocarpa     
39.     Leontopodium jacotianum     
40.     Saussurea fastuosa     
41.     Campanula latitotia     
42.     Cyananthus lobotus     
43.     Sassurea obvallata     
44.     Cremanthodium ellisii     
45.     Anaphalis triplineruts     
46.     Inula grandiflora     
47.     Aster albescens     
48.     Selinium tenuifolium     
49.     Heracleum pinnatum     
50.     Epilobium latisperma     
51.     Silene setisperma     
52.     Arenaria griffithii     
53.     Corydalis junecea     
54.     Erigerono multiradiatus    
55.     Polygonum molle     

56.     Himalayan Blue Poppy     
57.     Codonopsis viridis   
58.     Origanus vulgare 
59.     Hackelia uncinata    
60.     Salvia hins/lanata   
61.     Smilacina purpurea/oleracea    
62.     Viola biflora   
63.     Rhodiola heterodonta    
64.     Epilohium latifolium    
65.     Cotoneaster integrifolius    
66.     Dubyaea hispida    
67.     Saussurea costus    
68.     Ligularia fiseheri    
69.     Androsace museoidea
70.     Eritrichium conum    
71.     Lindelofi anchusoides                      
72.     Thymus linearis                               
73.     Rheum webbianum                         
74.     Megacorpaea polyandra              
75.     Trillidium govanianum                        
76.     Satyrium nepoleanse                  
77.     Podophyllum hexaneum                
78.     Picrorhiza kurrooa                             
79.     Polygonatum multiflorum     


Other Attractions 

Hemkund Sahib: A very popular trekking destination, Hemkund is a 19 km trek from Govindghat. The high altitude lake known as Hemkund (4329 m) is located here. The lake and its picturesque surroundings are an important pilgrim center for both Hindus and Sikhs. Close to the lake, the sacred Sikh Gurudwara and a Lakshman temple are located.

Joshimath: One of the popular pilgrim centres in Uttrakhand, Joshimath was established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. There are the temples of Nav Durga and Narsingh here. This scenic town is also the base for trekking to the Valley of Flowers.

Badrinath: Badrinath, one of the holy places for Hindus in India. It is the most sacred Dham in India. Badrinath is located in the Chamoli district of Uttrakhand, at around 3133 mts high from the sea level. Badrinath temple is dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu. This temple is near to the Alaknanda River.

How to Reach

The nearest airport is in Jolly Grant, Dehradun, 295 kilometers (183 miles) away, and the nearest railway station is in Rishikesh, 276 kilometers (170 miles) away. The closest you can get to The Valley of Flowers by road is Govind Ghat. This requires around a 10 hour drive to Joshimath, then another one hour to Gobindghat. From Gobindghat it is a 13-kilometer (8 mile) trek along a steep, narrow, but well defined mountain trail to base camp at Ghangaria. This will take between 4 and 8 hours, depending on your fitness. Ghangaria has Hotels with Electricity and Mobile towers. From Ghangaria Another 3 km Trek Leads to Valley.











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