Wednesday, November 18

Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib Trek Log

Having completed a quick trek to Roopkund in Dussehara vacations, I hoped to do another in Deepawali. I had no plans of going home from Noida in vacations. Kiran was also in Gurgaon itself. This time if we took one day leave from office, we could have 5 days to do something. I proposed going to Joshimath and doing some of treks among Kauri Pass(Curzon Trail), Hemkund Sahib and Valley Of flowers over there. Though Valley of flowers and Hemkund Sahib were already closed by then for the winter season. Since we were only two, we decided to minimize the expense using bus travel instead cab.

There were very few buses on the route due to Deepawali that day.  We managed our way to Joshimath by changing buses and eventually booking a cab from Karnaprayag. It was night when we arrived Joshimath. To start trekking for Valley Of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib early morning, it would have been better if we stayed in Govind ghat that night. The cab driver was asking for a lot for Govind ghat so we had to stay in Joshimath and went to Govind ghat next morning.


After asking about the route, we left Govind ghat around 8 in morning. Govind ghat is situated at the confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga. The route going through Bhyundar valley is well paved and goes through a dense forest with Bhyundar Ganga on the right side. After 3-4 hours walk we reached Bhyundar village.

Along Bhyundar village to Ghangharia

There was no one in the village except one shop and 3-4 labours working on a home. Having our lunch we enquired upon further trail ahead. The shopkeeper told us that there is absolutely no one beyond this point in Ghangharia or Hemkund Sahib and everything is closed. He also warned us about the bears and leopards in the area and gave us 2 crackers and some kerosene to light up fire in night.
After getting few chapatis packed with pickle, soon we left for Ghangharia. On our way, two dogs tagged along us after getting lured by Kiran with biscuits.

Hathi Parbat as seen from Bhyundar Village,
A trail to Kakbhushundi lake starts from here towards this mountain

Walking through the dense forest, it was past 2 P.M. when we reached Ghangharia.
This is a significant place along this trek with lots of houses along the both sides of street; but everything was closed. It gave the whole place an eerie appearance. After hiding our bags in the gallery of a rest house, we left for Valley of Flowers.

Towards Valley Of Flowers From Ghangharia,
The Pushpawati river gorge

The trek goes through the dense forest on left side and Pushpawati river gorge on the right. The Pushpawati river joins Bhuyandar Ganga near Ghangharia to form Lakshman Ganga.

The dogs chased grey langurs herds whenever they see them. Climbing our way after crossing Pushpawati river, and walking through the dense forests with some snow along the trail; we reached Valley of Flowers.

Valley of Flowers in mid November

The flora in the valley was completely dried except few green patches here and there. We roamed inside the valley enjoying the view and clicking pictures.

After some walk inside the valley, we rested near the grave of Joan Margaret Legge (1885 - 1939) who died while collecting samples here. The sun was about to set, so we turned back towards Ghangharia. It was completely dark when we reached there.

We picked some woods from the street and lit up a fire with the help of kerosene. Sitting there, the dogs occasionally barked and ran along the street. Kiran feared that something is around and tried to look towards the way these dogs ran with torch. We only had 6 chapatis to eat. I suggested to eat next morning for breakfast as we needed enough energy to climb Hemkund Sahib. Kiran agreed to it and suggested to share our chapatis with the dogs dutifully protecting us in the night. After few hours of warming ourselves with fire, we decided to get some sleep. I kept the fire burning and pitched our tents in the gallery of the rest house. Dogs kept barking and running all night.

The footsteps
After sharing our breakfast with dogs, we started for Hemkund Sahib. It is a continuous 6 km climb till the top. After 3 kms, treeline ends and the path was snowy. The bridge on the way was disassembled so we found an alternate route nearby to go further. After the bridge there are stairs and there also is an alternate way. The stairs were steep and completely covered with snow but the alternate path is longer and not so steep. There was snow everywhere. After crossing the nullah, when I started on the stairs, I noticed foot steps of some big animal which walked before us on that path. Kiran found the path slippery and decided to take the alternate route. I climbed the stairs cautiously, wondering if some bear is waiting for me above. Later, I was assured that this could not be the case as the dogs went ahead and waited for me at the end of stairs. Kiran continued negotiating the snow, while I reached the gurudwara. After few mins, Kiran reached there and meanwhile I roamed around the serene Homkund lake taking pictures with my mobile which still retained it's juice in airplane mode. With the gentle breeze, the crystal clear rippling water of the lake was making sounds. We sat there on a stone by the lake for few minutes and watched around. The dogs were lying on the snow basking in the sun. Kiran wondered if they were very tired and are sleeping.

The Homkund Lake

Around 11 AM, started trekking back for Govind ghat. It was a long way ahead and we both were hungry. We picked our bags up from Ghangharia from where we stayed last night and continued the descent. We talked about having big lunch at Bhyundar. The shopkeeper was waiting for us; when we we reached there in noon. After lunch and little rest in Bhyundar, we returned the kerosene and the crackers which we didn't use. It was necessary to reach Govind Ghat by evening, if we wanted to have dinner and stay in Joshimath. Around 6 PM, when we reached Govind Ghat it was dark. With some luck, we managed to catch a jeep coming from Badrinath.

We still had a day left after these two trek days. Kauri pass was at least 28 km one way which I didn't think could be managed in the remaining time. Next day we ended our trip after visiting Badrinath temple and stayed overnight in Joshimath.

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