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A Soul Evoking Trip To The Valley Of Flowers & Shri Hemkund Sahib

A Soul Evoking Trip To The Valley Of Flowers & Shri Hemkund Sahib

access_time July 8, 2016 chat_bubble_outline 0 comments 4173 views

 

“Let’s begin with a small test. Close your eyes and imagine a Valley of Flowers. Even though you may have not actually been there, your mind is bound to be filled with at least some images of stunning vistas”

 

Nandini Shirguppi believes that if a place with such surreal natural beauty does exist, then it’s imperative to see this heaven at least once in your lifetime. The Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, was discovered by Frank Smythe in 1931, and is today a part of the Nanda Devi Biosphere and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Nandini set out on a treak to find out if her imagination of this magical valley was close to reality, and she certainly didn’t return disappointed…

The mesmerising Valley Of Flowers

The mesmerising Valley Of Flowers

Trek To The Valley Of Flowers

The path to this beautiful place is long and by no means easy. One needs to travel to Haridwar or Rishikesh and then up to the town of a major army settlement – Joshimath. From Joshimath it’s an hour’s drive to Govindghat. This is the last stop for vehicles, and from there onwards you have the option to trek or hire a mule to tread the 14 km path going to Ghangria, Valley of Flowers and the holy shrine of Shri Hemkund Sahib.

The sleepy village of Ghangria works as a base camp for all the places mentioned above, and has some establishments that provide basic facilities to trekkers, tourists and pilgrims.

 

The enchanting dusk at Ghangaria village

I’m glad to have experienced this enchanting sunset at the Ghangaria village

The Valley of Flowers is accessible only during the months of June to September. The primary reasons being :

  • The flowers bloom only after the rainfall, and wither away at the end of the season
  • Winter makes the terrain hostile and therefore inaccessible

My trek to the valley began after an early breakfast that mainly comprised of hot parathas filled with your choice of stuffing- onion, potatoes, cauliflower, cheese, radish, etc. After I was done wiping-off the plate clean, I finally obtained permit and started the trek where I was greeted with beautiful sights. En route, you’ll notice a memorial dedicated to Margaret Legge, a botanist from England, who had spent a considerable amount of time of her life in this valley. The trek takes you higher and deeper inside the valley and passes through waterfalls, streams beautiful natural pathways, as well as makeshift bridges.

The captivating bridge to cross and reach The Valley.

The captivating bridge that needs to be crossed to reach the valley

Nature At Its Finest!

The park has a variety of over 600 species of Angiosperms (flowering plants). The thought of “Is this real?”, “Never seen such a flower before ” or “Never seen this color before”, kept popping in mind. Nature overwhelms you and your senses at the Valley of Flowers. It finally calms you down and eventually wins you over. This is when you sit back, take in all that is possible and try to be one with Nature at that moment. By the time you plan to go back (even if you don’t feel like ) you are more at peace with yourself, humbled by this overwhelming beauty and pleased with yourself that you came here.

Bluepoppy, a rare species of a flower that blooms once in a while.

Bluepoppy, a rare species of a flower that blooms once in a while.

 

Did you know that the mystical Brahmakamal turns white when it fully blossoms?

Did you know that the mystical Brahmakamal turns white when it fully blossoms?

Visit To Shri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara

While Valley of Flowers has the capacity to take you on a high with its sheer beauty, Hemkund does the same thing, but on the spiritual side. Serenity follows you till you reach the holy Gurdwara. This beautiful and tranquil place is situated at an altitude of nearly 15,000 feet.

 

The breathtaking views on the way to Hemkund.

The breathtaking views on the way to Hemkund.

According to legend, Hemkund is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures as the place where Guru Gobind Singh had meditated in his previous life. It is also called as his Tapasthan (place of meditation). The literal translation of Hemkund is : Hem – Snow, Kund – Water body (a water body amidst snow).

Despite the dropping temperatures and the icy water, many of the pilgrims take a dip in its chilly waters and also carry some back home.

 

The gushing waters of Hemkund lake.

The gushing waters of Hemkund lake.

A Glimpse Of Shri Hemkund Sahib

On your way, you come across many people especially the Sikh and Sardar community. Some of them walking barefoot, irrespective of their age chanting “Wahe Guru ” as they climb. There are many small stalls on the way for tea and some refreshments. They also offer a place of rest for the tired pilgrims. Many people feed black gram to the horses from the stalls.

The serene and soulful Gurudwara - Shri Hemkund Sahib

The serene & soulful Gurudwara – Shri Hemkund Sahib

The climb to Hemkund is a tough one and it takes 2 to 3 hours on a pony and 4 to 6 hours (depending upon your fitness). Some people may encounter altitude sickness due to the height.

The path that brings you here is beautiful and serene, filled with blooming flowers, fog, mist, waterfalls and glaciers. As you reach the place, the soothing chants emerging from the Gurdwara calm and energise you. They offer hot tea and khichdi as Prasad for everyone. After you offer your prayers, is when you realize the gigantic effort needed to build this place and why people come here.

 

The feeling is beyond words when you realize that God is ONE and this supreme power is beyond one’s caste, faith and religion. You surrender yourself to this feeling and this is one thing that stays with you for a long, long time. It is rightly said ” When life is too hard to stand, kneel”.

 

 

About The Author

Nandini Shirguppi

Nandini Shirguppi

Mrs. Nandini S Shirguppi is Graduate in Computer Science, Diploma in Early Child Education and a Masters in Counselling and Therapy. She resides with her family in Mumbai, and is an avid reader, photographer and an ardent nature lover. Her song and activity book for pre-schoolers is set to be released by November 2016. Nandini firmly believes that constant reinvention is crucial to progress and the best way to do that is through Travel 🙂

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