The Valley of Flowers
The valley of flowers is situated in the west Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand . This Indian National Park is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserve, encompassed in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. This region was highly inaccessible to humans because of its geographical location and altitude. It was accidentally discovered by two British mountaineers Franks S.Smythe and R.L.Holdsworth when they reached this valley after the expedition of Mount Kamet in 1931. Frank S.Smythe authored a book named “The Valley of Flower”, which gave a detailed description about the habitat in the valley.
The Valley of Flowers is home to over 500 different species of flowers exclusive to the region. It is situated in the Zanskar range of Himalayas and the highest point in the Valley of Flowers is at 6719 m above sea level. It was declared a national park in 1982 and is regarded as a world heritage site now. Prof. Chandra Prakash Kala, who worked for the Wildlife Institute of India undertook research here in 1993. He completed the research which spanned for almost ten years. He named 520 alpine plants that are only grown in this region and authored two books, “The Valley of Flowers-Myth and Reality” and “Ecology and Conservation of the Valley of Flowers National Park, Garhwal Himalaya”.
As per Hindu mythology, this valley is mentioned in the Ramayan when Hanuman comes to this place looking for special herbs to treat Lakshmana and other soldiers injured in the war with Ravan. The locals who reside here believe that the valley is inhabited by fairies.
The Valley of Flowers is home to exclusive flowers like the Brahmakamal, the Cobra Lily and the Blue Poppy. Botanists, trekkers and nature lovers visit this place to admire the different forms of nature. It is open only for a few months and the best season to visit is between June and October. For the remaining months it remains inaccessible because of heavy snow.
The Valley is an abode for several valuable species of flowers. Flowers like orchids, poppies, marigold, daisies and primulas are seen in abundance. Several medicinal plants like Picrorhiza kurrooa, Aconitum violaceum, Polygonatum multiflorum, Fritillaria royeli are found in this place. The Valley is guarded by majestic snow covered peaks on either side. Pushpavati river emerges in the glaciers and divides the valley into two sections. The right side of the valley is a major attraction for trekkers. Several streams flow through the valley and merge with the Pushpavati river. These streams create smaller valleys within the valley. Enchanting flowers in different patterns adorn the banks of the valleys. The valley offers a magnificent view of a variety of natural flora and fauna. Subtle fragrances spread from the flowers and fill the valley with aromatic breeze.
On the left side of Pushpavati river, flat chunks of land are seen. One of these lands is named as Nag Tal. It is said that the flowers that bloom in this land are poisonous and hence the name Nag Tal is appropriate to the place.
When the snow starts melting, the valley becomes accessible in the month of April. The melting ice gives life to several plants which start blooming by July. The valley gets filled up with shades of colours like yellow, purple, white pink and red. The place appears like a nature carpeted floor with different colorful dimensions. As the time progresses the valley changes to unusual celestial dimensions. Tall oak and pine trees seem to be guarding the valley with their tall trunks and wide foliage. Birch trees adorn the higher places in the valley. The bark of this tree was believed to be used for writing scriptures during ancient periods. On the banks of the river Pushpavati, blue poppies, sun flowers, ligularia and pink Andsosace flowers bloom. Several varieties of wild roses, rhododendron, geranium, ferns like oak fern, epiphytic and maidenhair are seen prominently in these areas.
Brahmakamal or Saussurea obvallata is a creamish graceful flower that has red and brown stamens in the middle. Like a lotus the petals open loosely. The flower is only seen in the higher slopes of this valley.
The valley of flowers is an enchanting place which beckons people to come and explore its serene, mystic beauty.