A guide to the valley of flowers & Hemkund Sahib

A DIY Guide to the Valley of Flowers & Hemkund Sahib Treks

Last year, during the monsoons, I traveled to Uttarakhand for the two treks that I had been anticipating to do for a long time – to the Valley of Flowers national park and Hemkund Sahib.

I was not sure if this whole DIY idea was good at all. But not only did I pull it off successfully, I spent just about 4000 INR including both the treks, traveling all the way from Bangalore!

So here is the DIY guide to the valley of flowers and Hemkund sahib treks, including the costs and stays.

A DIY guide to the valley of flowers and Hemkund Sahib treks

I’m considering Rishikesh as the starting point for the trek since most of the treks begin from there. Allow yourself up to 7 to 8 days so that you can keep a day or two as a buffer in case rain interrupts. It will surely rain since it is the monsoon season, but if it’s heavy then it becomes impossible to trek.

Day 1| Rishikesh to Joshimath, Joshimath to Govind Ghat

Travel from Rishikesh to reach Joshimath, which is about 250 km away. It takes 8 to 10 hours depending on the mode of transport.

How to reach Joshimath from Rishikesh: The buses begin at 4 AM and there are 2 or 3 direct buses per day. Public buses are limited and the last bus leaves around 5:15 AM. The cost is under 300 INR (even lesser, I don’t remember)

Make sure to reach early, maybe by 4 AM itself. I reached the bus stand at 5:30 AM and missed the last bus. So I had to spend some extra money for the shared jeep.

Shared Jeep: The TATA sumo or taxis/jeeps are another option to reach Joshimath. I paid 400 INR after many bargains. The driver initially quoted 600 INR, and that’s what he charged the foreigners. Of course, the locals paid lesser than me.

Where to board the bus/jeep: The bus station at Rishikesh is away from the center of the town and since it would too early in the morning to reach the bus stand (you can still board from the station, but you’ll end up paying more for the taxi to reach there!), you can wait near Tapovan, just after Lakshman Jhula.

“It is always the same with the mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.” These words by Ruskin Bond sums up the enduring effect of the mountains have on me. The sense of belonging that I felt after traveling for so long to be here, amidst these hills, it was as if the heart aches to come back – may be to find something it’s looking for. I don’t know what it seeks, for I just intend to follow the heart. #quotes #ruskinbond #wanderlust #instagramming_india #india #indiatravel #nofilter #travelbloggers #thesologlobetrotter #Uttarakhand #uttaranchal #valleyofflowers #devbhoomi #mountains #himalayangeographic #himalayas #nature #happy #travelgirl #solotravel #ig_myshot #india_clicks #wanderlusting #nomad #clouds #storiesofindia #travelgram #instatravel #incredibleindia #ig_india

The views are a treat throughout the journey from Rishikesh!

There is a small police chowk after Lakshman Jhula. Both the buses and jeeps pick up from there. There is no signboard, but you can check with the locals for the bus stop – everyone knows the place.

Joshimath to Govind Ghat: Govind Ghat is a small village located ahead of Joshimath, which is also the place to start the trek for those heading to Hemkund Sahib. Once you reach Joshimath, take a shared jeep to Govind Ghat. It should not take you more than 150 INR. It takes about half an hour to 40 minutes to reach Govind Ghat.

Ideally, you should be reaching Govind Ghat latest by say 8 PM. If you take a jeep to Joshimath, they usually drop to Govind Ghat as well, so discuss it along. They might quote an extra sum, but haggle to include it under 400 INR.

Tip: Ensure that you start your day early, preferably by 4 AM to make it to Govind Ghat by evening. The weather is totally unpredictable in the mountains, and roadblocks are common. I started my day at 5:30 AM and made to Govind Ghat at 7 PM with two roadblocks in the villages that took away about 1.5 hours.

Where to Stay: Govind Ghat has many budget and small hotels, and the price varies from 300 INR to 500 INR for a night. There are many places for food, and finding a restaurant isn’t a problem.

I stayed in the Gurudwara at Govind Ghat as I wanted to get a glimpse of the culture, which was a great experience. Plus, I had enforced a strict treks-on-a-tight-budget rule for this trip!

Joshimath: In case you can’t make it to Govind Ghat, don’t sweat. It is an hour away and it means you have to cover that one hour by starting early the next day. There are many budget stays and modern hotels in Joshimath, which is a relatively bigger town.

The government run GMNV guest houses are pretty cheap, with dorm beds at 100 to 150 INR. They are hygienic and well-maintained. There are 2 GMNV houses – one at the centre, and the other in upper Joshimath. You can call them on the same day or a day before and block your stay. Check this website for complete details.

Day 2 | Govind Ghat to Ghangaria

The actual trek starts here. Start your day at 6 AM to Ghangaria village, which is the base camp for the two treks. The total distance from Govind Ghat to Ghangaria is about 12 km. There are shared cabs that go to 4 km.

There is a bridge in Govind Ghat, which also has a check post. Here you are mandatorily required to submit your details to register first. Shared cabs are parked right to next to it. It takes about 20 minutes to cover 4 km.

A guide to the valley of flowers & Hemkund
The bridge with the check post

The trek to Ghangaria is strenuous, even tougher than the trek to the valley of flowers itself. The trek distance one way is 8 km, but 90% of the distance is uphill, some parts of it being steep as well. You can hire porters to carry your luggage or alternatively, rent a ride on the mule if you find it tough.

Tips: Carry as minimum luggage as possible – just the essentials should be perfect. It must include poncho, 3 to 4 layers for cold, a wind jacket, waterproof trekking shoes, and trekking pole.

I repeat, the trail is tough – carry as less as you can! I had put on some extra clothes and it was very stressful to trek with a heavy bag.

A guide to the valley of flowers & Hemkund

Drink enough water to stay hydrated. There is a change in the altitude as you trek, and you trek from an elevation of 1800 meters to 3100 meters in a few hours. Take it slow, and you should be ideally reaching Ghangaria between 4 to 5 PM in the evening. Ensure you make it before it gets dark anyways.

Where to stay: From tents to modern hotels, Ghangaria has many options for stay. You can get a room from 200 INR onwards. There is a Gurudwara in Ghangaria as well, and you can stay there too for free.

Day 3 | Ghangaria to the Valley of Flowers

A DIY Guide to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund
The route map

The 6km trek to the valley of flowers from Ghangaria takes about 4 to 5 hours depending on how much you intend to spend in the national park and your trekking pace. Luckily, there are just about 200 meters gain in altitude and the trail is a mix, but mostly easily.

Once you get out of Ghangaria, there is a signboard for the valley of flowers, following which you’ll reach the checkpoint. You have to make your entry there and get the tickets. The entry ticket for Indians is 150 INR.

Check this picture below for full details.

A DIY Guide to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund
Entry ticket details – Valley of Flowers

Tip: Start the trek as early as possible, within 7 AM. The weather usually gets worse as the day progresses and noon is when heavy downpours occur. Also, starting early ensures that you get to spend more time strolling in the valley. It takes some time to soak in the beauty and treat yourself to the views, after all this hiking!

Where to stay: Ghangaria

Read my trek experiences & check the gorgeous photos here: A Trek to the Paradise of Flowers.

Day 4 | Ghangaria to Hemkund Sahib

The trek distance from Ghangaria to Hemkund is 5 km, but the terrain is tougher compared to the valley of flowers. Also, there is an altitude gain of about 1100 to 1200 meters. It’s a difficult trek, but definitely do-able! You should be back to Ghangaria by 5 PM.

Begin the trek before 6 AM. Just make sure to carry the essentials – water bottle, glucose (if needed), light food, poncho, trekking pole and camera gears.

Where to stay: Ghangaria

Also read:  Hemkund Sahib – A Trek to the Lake of Snow

Day 5 | Ghangaria to Govind Ghat/ Joshimath

The trek back to Govind Ghat from Ghangaria would feel easier, but it still needs 4 to 5 hours to make your way back. It’s better to stay in Joshimath as that’s where you’ll have to head to board bus/jeep to Rishikesh.

Some people start really early and even walk back within 3 hours so that they reach Rishikesh the same day by jeeps.

Where to stay: Joshimath/Govind Ghat

Day 6 | Joshimath to Rishikesh

Board an early morning bus or shared jeeps from Joshimath and reach Rishikesh in the evening.

Where to stay: Rishikesh

Hemkund Sahib or Valley of Flowers – Which one to do first from Ghangaria?

A guide to the valley of flowers & Hemkund

Well, the order to follow is as you wish. But technically, there are two approaches to this. If you feel that you need to acclimatise and warm up first – then go for the valley of flowers first, also because this trek is more beautiful. On the other hand, if you feel the urge to be done with the toughest first (like me), then Hemkund should be your first choice.

Total Cost

This is what I spent, travelling from Bangalore:

Bangalore to Delhi & back, train – 1600 INR; Delhi to Dehradun & back, train – 290 INR; Cab (Delhi) – 150 INR;  Jeeps – 1100 INR (travel from Dehradun to Rishikesh + Rishikesh to Joshimath & back); Stay – 200 (1 day hotel cost in Ghangaria, rest for free in Gurudwaras); Entry fees for VOF – 150 INR; Food – 500 INR (I ate food as well at Gurudwara in between)

Total: 3990 INR

So if you are travelling to Dehradun anywhere from the North like Delhi, then the cost would come down close to 3000 INR.

I think that’s a great budget for a week’s trip, what do you say?

So this is your DIY guide to the valley of flowers and Hemkund Sahib treks.

Have you been there? If not, plan your budget trip right away now that you know how to do it 😉

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DIY travel guide to the valley of flowers & hemkund sahib

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Reshma Narasing is a dreamer, a bibliophile, a hopeless travel addict, a passionate writer, and a girl who gulps down large mugs of coffee many times a day. The Solo Globetrotter is the place where she takes people like you virtually, sharing her combined love for traveling and telling stories.

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