India has big number of exceptionally stunning valleys of flowers across its peninsular region, and top among them is definitely the ‘valley of flowers’ in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district inside the Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve. It is so popular that whenever you talk about Valley of Flowers, it is presumed that you are talking about it. But there are many other valleys of flowers and a handful of them are in the Himalayan region itself. They might not be as popular as the Valley of Flowers in the Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve but they are equally beautiful and worth a visit.
Well, here I am not talking about all the valleys of flowers. That isn’t the purpose of the post. I am loking at what we have missed this season due to lockdown imposed upon us because of coronavirus pandemic around the world. This lockdown has robbed us of change to visit many places as spring is one of the best season to be in hills of north, especially lower and mid-altitude reaches of Himalayas- clear skies, nice weather, no rains and abundance of greenery around.
Two valleys that I am talking about are quite far from each other but almost in same topography and altitude. One is the Har Ki Doon valley in Uttarakhand and another one is Yumthang in far-off north Sikkim. Both of them are at roughly same altitude- Har Ki Doon is at an altitude of 11,700 feet while Yumthang is at the altitude of 12,000 feet. Both of them get carpeted with flowers during spring. It isn’t so that these valleys are not accessible during other times. Both are accessible almost all the year round. And actually, while Har Ki Don is accessible only through a moderate trek inside the Supin river valley, but Yumthang valley along the Lachung Chu river is accessible by metalled road.
Both these valleys bloom in late spring and till early summer, i.e. from March to May, precisely the time that we lost to lockdown. I am just giving a glimpse of what we have missed, we missed the booming for which they are better known as valley of flowers. Actually during the long winter season, these valleys remain covered by thick layer of snow. When this snow starts melting in early March, the tiny pink, purple, blue flowers start blooming in some time. These flowers will normally stay for a month or two. This is when the valley gets carpeted by these flowers. This happens early in these valleys because of their low altitude. Same thing happens quite late in Valley of Flowers at Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve.
Well, this isn’t a detailed account of any of these places because I can’t do any justice by merging the travel to these valleys in a single post. They are worth much-much more and in all seasons. For example, Har Ki Doon is generally covered by travellers as part of Kedarkantha trek. Supin river originates from Har Ki Doon by draining water from Banderpunch, Black Peak and Swargarohini Peaks. At Netwar this Supin river meets with Rupin river which comes down from the Rupin pass. At Netwar these two rivers meet to form Tons river which further meets Yamuna at Kalsi, just 48 kilometres away from Dehradun.
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As the name suggests, Har Ki Doon is also some sort of mythological land- valley of the gods. Swargarohini is the same peak that is mentioned in Mahabharata as the place from where Pandavas moved to heaven. This whole area is part of the Jaunsar region which is closely associated with Mahabharata. Sankri is generally the base camp for Har Ki Doon trek. It takes eight to nine hours to reach Sankri from Dehradun by road. Not just the valley, but the whole area gets colourful during the spring. Lower heights will be covered with rhododendron flowers. Night stay at Har Ki Doon in tents in the middle of valley surrounded by snow covered peaks, is an experience out of this world, specially if it is a clear sky.
Whereas, Yumthang is 140 kilometres north of Sikkim and this valley accessible by road has everything- river, hot springs, meadows, yaks and amazing flowers. This valley is along Lachung Chu river. Chu means river in local language. After Yumthang this river passes through Lachung village which gives it its name and then to Chungthang, where it meets Lachen Chu river coming from Lachen and they both give birth to mighty Teesta river. From December to March, access to Yumthang is not possible from Lachung because of heavy snowfall. Just ahead of Yumthang is the zero point, the last accessible point of the region, as it is quite close to the China border.
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Yumthang is not just famous for its flower carpet, but it is also home to Shingba Rhododendron sanctuary. Rhododendron is state flower of Sikkim and in this sanctuary you will find as many as 24 different species of rhododendron flowers. Name a colour and you will find a rhododendron flower of that colour here. And, these rhododendrons also bloom mostly during spring- from March to mid-June. So, while on the one end of Yumthang towards Lachung, you will see all types of rhododendrons around and on the other side towards zero point, you will find pink and purple flowers carpeting the meadow. That is the magic of spring here and alas, we have missed it this year. And, we can’t d anything else then wait for the next spring to come.
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Have you missed going to these two beautiful valleys during the spring? Have you been there earlier? How was the experience? Share with us in the comments section below.
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