Sep 272011
 

This is my third blog in the series of my journey to the inner part of Devbhoomi Uttarakhand. The other two parts related to our visit to Joshimath, Badrinath, Mana Village and Vasudhara Falls can be found at:

Part 1
An Evening at Joshimath
Part 2
Badrinath, Mana Village and Vasudhara Fall

We started early in the morning at 6.00 AM from our guest house at Badrinath to Ghangaria Village, the base camp for Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib treks. I did not have advance hotel booking in Ghangaria, and if you too not have, then an early start to Ghangaria from any point whether you are in Joshimath, Govindghat or Badrinath is recommended because earlier you reach Ghangaria, better the room you get in terms of tariff and quality.

Badrinath to Govindghat:
We reached Badrinath bus stand in 5 minutes from our guest house and there were lot of buses leaving to Haridwar and Rishikesh. But no conductor was willing to offer us two seats up to Govindghat, which is just 26 kms away from there. They want us to travel in standing mode. But due to the hilly terrain and zigzag road we wanted to get a seat for us. Finally after 15 mins wait a conductor came and offered a single seat to Nidhi. I was able to travel in standing mode. So to leave as early as possible, we boarded the bus. The journey was for about 40 mins only and it was not as bad as i thought. We left the bus at Govindghat.

Govind Ghat

There were huge rush of Sikhs Pilgrims, who were going to visit the Sacred Hemkund Sahib. They were everywhere, on the motorcycles, in the buses, by the cars, stayed in the hotels, guest houses and gurudwara…Govindghat(1828 mtrs) was full of them. Lot of motorcycles and cars were parked in numerous parking spaces. We did not stop at Govindghat and started climbing for our 13 kms trek to Ghangaria village (3048 mtrs).

Motorcycles in a parking lot at Govindghat

Govindghat to Ghangaria: 
We stumbled over the swing bridge and finally set off! This seemed to be a tough trek indeed in our first kilometer only. I could have do it, but I knew it was not possible for Nidhi. But she showed some courage and after taking the breaks at short intervals, we moved further.

Bridge with Gurudwara in background @Govindghat

An idea of locations

Welcome to Valley of Flowers National Park from Govindhghat

Our backpacks were bit heavy, indicated by many people. Once I thought to leave some of my stuffs at the locker available at Govindghat, but then I  left that idea. But after two kilometers only, i realized that it was a big mistake made by us. By that time Nidhi was exhausted and our break intervals started increasing. I thought by this speed, we would not be able to make it before 5-6 PM. A mule owner saw our bags and guessed our conditions. He came and offered a mule ride to Ghangaria at the cost of Rs.800/-.But Nidhi refused and said she will complete this trek on its own. After another half an kilometer she got very tired. The mule owner was constantly chasing us and by that time I decided to hire a mule for Nidhi. After a short bargaining he was agreed for Rs.500/-. Nidhi took our two bags and proceed further to Ghangaria on Mule. It also gave me a freedom to move faster and with less frequent break intervals.

Nidhi trying to adjust on the Mule

Govindghat as seen from the trek route

The trekking route to Ghangaria was in very bad shape and thank god that there was no rain at that moment. There were lot of shops at frequent distance and offered glucose,chocolates,breakfast,lunch, drinking water, clod drinks everything in that dense forest area. It was amazing to see the determination of the old people making the pilgrimage. Dressed in their traditional clothes, orange turbans covered Made in Indian plastic to stop the rain, some had swords strapped to their sides – a few even completed this 13kms trek in bare feet! They were really sweet, especially the oldies. So many of them talked to me and complete strangers gave us sweets and glucose powder. We  were passed through two small villages known as Pulna and Bhyundar. This entire valley is known as Bhyundar Valley. Despite the heavy rush of visitors little seemed to have changed for these villagers. Roads were bad, the houses primitive, neglect and decay reigned everywhere.

Pulna Village

Bhyundar Valley's Attractions

Along the trek route

Trek route to Ghangaria

Trek route to Ghangaria

Bhyundar Viilage

Diverging Trek to Kag Bhasundi Lake

Nidhi was just 15-20 minutes ahead of me constantly till 5 kms to Ghangaria. We stopped at two places to take the breakfast and some snacks. Not everyone completed the trek on foot. Hundreds of donkeys and mules stumble up the path too, carrying huge loads. Many of the people they were carrying were in their twenties and smugly rode past the struggling oldies. The last 3 kms of the trek were steepest and very tough. I was very tired, but kept moving in the hope to complete it as early as possible. Just 1 km before Ghangaria, we passed thorugh a helipad and tented accomodation of Sarovar Hotels. First sign of Ghangaria was only for the  people who can afford the luxury and not interested in the natural beauty and physical tiredness of the route (Helicoptor service from Gauchar to Ghangaria starts from 15000 INR per person for a return trip and tented accomodation starts from 4000 INR plux taxes). Finally, I reached Ghangaria, also known as Govind Dham, around 1.15 PM.

Kanjila Helipad at Ghangaria

Tented Accomodation:CAMP Ghangaria by Sarovar Hotels

Ghangaria Village:

Nidhi reached 45 minutes before and was waiting for me in front of GMVN rest house. I knew already that there is no vacant room at GMVN, so I explored other options without wasting my time.There were plenty of accommodations available at Ghangaria. Almost every house there were converted in a hotel. Finally, in front of GMVN only we got a decent room with rent of Rs.500/- per night. We straight went to bath to reduce our tiredness. After a quick lunch i went to sleep for the day. We woke up in evening and went to explore Ghangaria Village.

Ghangaria Village

Ghangaria is situated on the bank of the river Lakshman Ganga. It is the last human habitation in this tiny valley. This place is usually used by travelers as a base camp to visit Hemkund and Valley of flowers. It is only open from May till September. The rest of the year the valley is covered under 8 feet of snow.

In Ganghria,the Larger River Pushpawati flowing from Rataban and Nilgiri Ranges across the Valley of Flowers, meets the Lakshman Ganga from Hemkund Lake(The glaciers of Haathi Parvat and SaptShring peaks forms this lake), from here Onwards River is known as Lakshman Ganga.Later, at Govindghat,Lakshman Ganga merges with the Alaknanda River.

In order to get one connected to outside world one can find number of PCO at Ghangaria where one can make STD/ISD calls but rates are quite high like 20 INR per minute. Beside that BSNL have their mobile connectivity even at Ghangaria so you can also get yourself equipped with BSNL SIM card.

We went to Gurudwara at Ghangaria. It was of fully packed with pilgrims. If you were unable to get any room at Ghangaria, then also you should not be worry. The Gurudwara is large enough to give you a shelter. Blankets are also available. It is sure that you will not sleep outside in the chilly night. Langer is also available at Gurudwara. There were lot of people sipping tea inside the Gurudwara in the evening. I also enjoyed the tea.

Gurudwara at Ghangaria

Outside the Gurudwara, I found these shoe-makers. After 13 kms of trek, my shoes was again in bad shape and the guy fixed it beautifully for my next day trek.

Shoe-Makers

While returning back from the end of the village on VOF side, we find a interesting theater at Ghangaria. This local theater screened the movie for porters and mule owners on a Television Set. Every afternoon they placed a notice about the movie name, its star-cast and screening time.

People outside the theater at Ghangaria

There is a small documentary centre run by the forest dept next to GMVN in Ghangaria which screens a 22 minute film on VOF and it is open till 7 pm in the evening.

Documentary Show Center

After some market watch, we took an early dinner at the restaurant in our hotel. The food quality was good enough for this remote location. Being a base for the popular Sikhs Pilgrimage site, many good Punjabi dishes are available at Ghangaria.

Ghangaria as seen from the VOF entrance gate

Another side of Ghangaria

This was the end of our day and we went to sleep early, so that we can start early in the morning to Valley of Flowers on next day.

Some Facts About Ghangaria –

1.While trekking to Ghangaria, keep your backpack as light as possible. Lockers are available at Govindghat. The 13 kms trek is long enough to make you tired without backpack also.

2. No ATM and No Credit/Debit cards at Ghangaria, (or even at Govindghat) (withdraw enough cash either at Badrinath or Joshimath, advisable at Joshimath as ATM at Badrinath may not work also)

3. Everything is double the MRP

4. Electricity is available only for 2-3 hrs in the morning and 3-4 hrs in the evening

5. No network coverage but you will find BSNL PCOs with a satellite phone charging 20 INR per call(pulse rate 60 seconds)

6.A bucket of hot water costs Rs.30 and you need to order 15 mins before you use it. Most hotels charge for hot water barring may be GMVN.

7. Some rooms may not have electric plugs to charge your phone and camera, so give them to the owner. He will charge it and return it safely.

8. Bring enough inner wears, as they may not be dry here because of humidity and almost daily rain.

9. Must bring a raincoat or buy a local plastic made raincoat (cost 15-25 INR), as there can be rain at any time.

  41 Responses to “Ghangaria Village: The Gateway to the Paradise”

  1. All the information’s are really helpful..Thanks… Appreciated

  2. I am very pleased to read this. I felt I was seeing this all with my own eyes. Thanks. What was the dates you made this trip?

    Thanks again.

  3. Hi,
    We(me ,my brother, my wife and 5yrs old child) are planning to VOF in 12th August 2017.Is that time is ok to trek VOF? What about the road condition and rainfall. Accommodation availability? 1st day Starting from haridwar to joshimath, 2nd Joshimath to Ghangria , 3rd Ghangria to VOF and return back to Ghangria, 4th Ghangria to Hemkund and return back to Ghangria 5th day Ghangria to Badrinath if possible or return to Joshimath, 6th day Joshimath to Haridwar.

    • Hi, daywise itinerary looks good, and this is the perfect time to visit the valley. Rain is frequent, but natural beauty is unparalleled in the month of August. You may keep one buffer to avoid any inconvenience due to the rain or landslide. If possible, try to book GMVN property at Ghangharia online, else just go there. You will get many options. And, take care of 5 years old kid, he/she may not be able to cope up with the steep hike during Hemkund Sahib trek. However, VOF trek should be okay. Have a nice trip 🙂

  4. Really helpful. Thanks

  5. Very informative and helpful. 🙂 Can you tell what was the approximate cost of your whole trip (all 8 days)?

  6. Loads of information.. found everything i was looking for.. Thank you very much

  7. Can you please update me whether MTNL Prepaid or Prepaid networks are available at Ghangaria.

  8. Hi…

    Nice Pics and article is wonderful.

    We are planning to visit valley of flower on 11th august,2016. Is it possible to track Govind ghat to valley of flower and back to ghangaria for night stay in a one day ?

    Regards
    Sandeep Pandey

  9. Hi…
    We r 7 persons move to valley of flowers in August 2016, we need some hotel/camping side contact no.. can we make own tenting? if so, then what is the procedure for getting permission

    • Hi, there are many open areas, where you can place your own tent. Near the helipad, there are some tents of private tour operators. Unfortunately, I don’t have the contact number of any hotel.Check out this number of VOF park office +91-1389-222179. They may guide you on the camping permission.

  10. thankyou so much for this valuable information..

  11. Hi there,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am planning to visit VOF in second week of this August with my parents. I would prefer to book an accommodation in Ghangaria beforehand. The GMVNL one is already filled. Could you please share any contact number/email id of other accommodation(s) available there?

    • Hi, There are plenty of accommodation plus one gurudwara. But, unfortunately, I don’t have any contact number. You can try to contact VOF office at +91-1389-222179. They may help you with reliable information.

  12. Excellent post and very informative.
    Anyone interested for VOF Bike-Trek in mid or late August.
    Bike ride from Rishikesh – Govindghat then trek to VOF.

  13. Dear Sir,
    Could you please guide, which place did you stay at Ghangharia or suggest good hotels.
    Regards
    Sumeet

    • Hi, you can plan to stay at GMVN Guest House in Ghangharia. Book it online and well in advance at GMVN website. There are many more hotels available at Ghangharia. You can book them on the spot. and, in the worst case, if you don’t get any accommodation, Gurudwara is always there to help you. You can book rooms at the Gurudwara also.

      • Hello, your blog post is helping me a lot to plan our coming trip to VOF. What I get to hear from people is that the condition in Govindghat is not the same after flood. The gurudwara at Govindghat was badly affected in flood. So, is it restored now? What about the other gurudwara at Ghangharia? The GMVN guest house is full booked, hence, we are counting on gurudwaras as our last option. Thank you so much for such a detailed account. 🙂

        • Hi, that’s true. But there are lot of other accommodations available at Govindghat and Ghangharia, so Gurudwara is not the only option. Accommodation is not a matter of concern unless you are trekking with kids or very particular about the rooms. You will get something to spend the nights. There is a new route opening to VOF. Heard it’s more scenic than the original one. Enjoy your trip. 🙂

  14. Hi, I was searching for camping sites i.e., self camping sites anywhere in Ghangaria, but unable to find any info on this. Does it mean that camping (with own tents) is not allowed or not possible due to the weather it is not possible in Ghangaria.

    • Hi, I don’t have an authentic information, but there are lot of camping sites outside the village, especially around the helipad. Some tour operators also have their tents near the helipad area. I think, you can camp anywhere outside the village, except the area of Valley of Flowers National Park. Ghangharia village is very congested and its not possible to camp inside the village.

  15. Hi

    Its really good to see your post about VOF and other places which you have mention in your post but i want to know about VOF that mid aug is really good time to visit there if you could give me any advise reagarding span of time and any other useful information which is related to visit there.Especially want to know about road condition

    Tnaks & Regards
    DEEPAK

    • Mid August is the best time to visit VOF. You can see flowers in full bloom after the rain plus lot of greenery. However, that area is prone to Heavy Rain and Landslides in the month of July-August. Have 1-2 spare days in your itinerary.

  16. Hi,

    Nicely explained. It’s good informative. Everytime i read about valley of flowers, feels like i am being there. feels excited to visit. I would like to visit, valley of flowers, hemkund and badrinath from 18 july to 23 july 2015 from badrinath. I am coming alone from south india. Looking to join some travel groups and visit this extraordinary place. Feeling thrilled.

    Thanks,
    Siva….
    9846974827

  17. hi,, when did u take this trek,,,?? i m planning to go in aug 1st week

    • Hi, your timing is excellent for VOF trek. We went in the second week of August. In the month of August, you can expect to see a lot of flowers in full bloom. Though not necessary, but there are chances of the landslides due to heavy rain in the entire area. Be prepared for road blockage and have 1-2 extra days in your itinerary. Enjoy and have a great trip. 🙂

  18. The article was excellent n will the vof be open in the beginning of July?

    • Thank you and yes, VOF is already open and will be open in the beginning of July. However, if you can postponed it till the mid August, then you will get the best experiences of the valley. July and August are more prone to the heavy rains and the landslides. Just be prepared with 2 extra days, if any road gets blocked.

  19. Hi dear

    It is very nice to read a good guidelines who wanted to go to Hemkund Sahib and Vally of flowers. I am planning to go to these places in the monnth of Sept 2014. Will be this month OK for the vally of flowers and Hemkund Sahib. I am going with my spouse so please inform accordingly.
    Deelip Pawar
    Mumbai
    9892518569

    • Hi,

      September is a good month to visit Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib. You can expect less rain and may be, no landslides. But, Entry to Valley of Flowers is not permitted because the broken bridge after Ghangaria. So, check that before planning for VoF. However, Hemkund Sahib is easily accessible.

      Have a nice trip.

  20. Thanks Avanish. Your thoughts helping me out plan itinerary. Especially care that should be taken.
    Thank You.

    – Megh

  21. Hi Ashish, Unfortunately I do not have any contact number of the hotels at Ghangharia. The best place to stay at Ghangharia is the Tourist Rest House of GMVN and there is nothing available on their website. However, You can contact their office in Delhi at 011- 23350481, 23326620, 23364177 , in Dehradun at 0135-2747898, 2746817, in Haridwar at 01334-228686 and in Joshimath at 01389-222118. You can call or visit their nearest office or even send an email for more information. E-mail details are available at GMVN website. You can also book the accommodation online at the GMVN website. and If still there is any problem, do not worry. Try to reach Ghangharia as soon as possible and you will get a good accommodation on the same day of arrival. and after all this there is still a Gurudwara, where you spend your nights. Happy Backpacking to VOF.

  22. Hi…

    We are group of 8 and are planning to go to Valley of flowers in July. All is sorted except the stay at Ghangharia. Since you have been there, would you be able to provide any mobile number for the hotels.

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards,

    Ashish.

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