The “VALLEY OF FLOWERS” is a high-altitude Himalayan valley that has long been acknowledged by renowned mountaineers, botanists and in literature. It is referenced in the Hindu Religion. Indian yogis are known to have visited the valley for meditation.
The place was little known to the outside world due to its inaccessibility. In 1931, Frank S. Smythe, Eric Shipton and R. L. Holdsworth, all British mountaineers, lost their way while returning from a successful expedition to Mount Kamet and happened upon the valley —- which , was full of flowers. They named the valley the “VALLEY OF FLOWERS”. Frank Smythe later authored a book of the same name.
Professor Chandra Prakash Kala, a botanist deputed by the Wildlife Institute of India, carried out a research study on the flora and conservation of the valley, for a decade, in 1993. He made an inventory of 520 alpine plants, growing in this national park, and authored 2 important books ——- (1) “The Valley of Flowers” —– Myth & Reality and (2) An “Ecology & Conservation of the Valley of Flowers.”
The Valley of Flowers National Park can be reached by a trek of 17km from Govind Ghat. It is nestled in the west Himalayas covering an area of 87.50sq.km. The Valley is entirely covered with sheets of snow during winters, and the flowers bloom from June to October only. This Valley is rich in varied and unique flora and fauna. It was declared as a National Park in the year 1982 and it is now a World Heritage site. The virgin beauty of this valley lures botanists, nature lovers and adventure lovers.- At 3352-3658mts above sea level, 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 compass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and the Great Himalayas. Both parks are encompassed in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve which is, further, surrounded by a buffer zone. This Reserve is in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2004.
The Valley is known for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers, orchids, poppies, daisies, marigolds and anemones which carpet the ground. A number of plant species are considered threatened. The Valley of Flowers is, also, home to many endangered animals like the musk deer, Himalayan goral, red fox.
The birds, found here, are the yellow-nape woodpeckers, Himalayan vulture, yellow-billed and red-billed choughs, Himalayan Monal Pheasant, snow pigeon, blue-throated barbets and spotted dove. There are butterflies like the lime , butterfly, common yellow swallow-tail and common Mormon.
Visitors to the Valley of Flowers need to get a permit from the Forest Department at Ghangaria and the permit is valid for 3 days and visiting and trekking is allowed only during the day. Being an inner valley, the Valley of Flowers has a microclimate of an enclosed inner Himalayan valley and is shielded from the full impact of the southwest monsoon by the Greater Himalaya range to its south. There is, often, dense fog and rain especially during the late summer monsoon. The Valley is, usually, snow-bound for 6-7mths, between late October and late March, the snow accumulating deeper and at lower altitude on the shadowed southern than on the northern side of the valleys.
As visitors are not allowed to stay inside the National Park, accommodation can be obtained at Ghangaria. The best time to visit is August-September, when the Valley is full of flowers, just after the outbreak of the monsoon.