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The Valley of Flowers National Park known for its cascading post-monsoon blossoms is situated in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand state, bordered by Nepal and Tibet. It’s about 595 kilometers from Delhi.
It is set at a gradient from 3,500 to 6,500 m. above sea level in western Himalayas. The Pushpawati river which has its source in the Tipra Glacier flows through the verdant valley. Spread over 87.5 square kilometers, it is the second core zone of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve.
The valley was given its name by British mountaineers Franks S. Smythe and R.L. Holdsworth who incidentally reached this valley after a successful expedition of Mount Kamet in 1931. Fascinated by its beauty Smythe published a book named 'Valley of Flowers'.
The Valley of Flowers National Park has been part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2004. The valley is the second national park in Uttarakhand to be given the WHS status in the state after Nanda Devi National Park. Several legends was associated with this valley, among the popular is from the epic - Ramayana, that Hanuman collected the Sanjeevani herb from this place.
Every year, thousands of tourists comes here to have a glimpse at the stunning beauty of the nature. The National Park is also the haven of trekkers, adventure tourists and naturalists from the world over.
The valley with enchanting flowers in a riot of colours and lush green medows is surrounded with snow clad mountains on three sides. This high-altitude Himalayan valley houses more than 500 varieties of wild flowers, some of which are of rare ecological significance. The Valley of flowers is like a fairy tale and the locals here believe that, it is a divine playground, where nymphs and fairies have fun.
It has around 300 different varieties of alpine flowers, which appear as a bright carpet of color against a mountainous snow capped background. Some of the prominent flowers found in this valley were orchids, marigold, saxifrags, sediams, lilies, poppy, calendular, daisies, denthus, turmopsis, primula, dadiculatar, pontitala, geranium, cipro nepolysis, holly, pansy, zinnia, petunia, fox and caropsis dynthus. Rare distinguished flowers like the Brahma Kamal, the Blue Poppy and the Cobra Lily are also found here. The valley is also home to various medicinal herbs. The forests of the valley are dense with trees with oak, blue pine and other conifers.
The valley remains in bloom for three months i.e the beginning of June until the end of September. By September, the blooms start to fade and as it's covered in snow the rest of the year. So the best time to visit is from mid July to mid August, when the flowers are in full bloom after the first monsoon rain.
The fauna in the park include snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan kthar, monal and pheasants. There are various species of insects, birds and butterflies with colors that can equally match the hues of the flowers. Bird fauna found here are fire Himalayan tree creeper, red-headed bullfinch, monal pheasant, capped tit, rose finch, blackthroated tit, fire fronted serin, speckled wood pigeon, yellowbreasted greenfinch, rufousvented tit, brown dipper etc.
The Valley of Flowers is opens from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and camping is prohibited. Not permitted to enter after 3 pm. Entry fee is 600 rupees for foreigners and 150 rupees for Indians for a 3 day pass. Each additional day is 250 rupees for foreigners and 50 rupees for Indians.
Permission is obtained from the Forest Department check point near Ghangaria. No overnight stay is permitted here. To reach here, a full day trek is needed from Govindghat to the village of Ghangaria which is nearly 14 km long. On the way one can enjoy the spectacular scenic beauty which is decorated by wild flowers, waterfalls, springs, rocky boulders and snow capped peaks. Ghanghria also serves as the base camp for most of the treks undertaken for Valley of Flowers.