It all started 4 yrs ago when I returned from Ladakh. My friend Praveen realized that I(Neil) had a travel bug within me..and so he asked me to take him to valley of flowers whenever I plan to visit.
Since then he used to remind me once every six months. It was this February when Praveen again asked me to try out this August. It was on around 22nd July that my friend Ranjan( A pseudo nature lover) saw me checking out the pics of valley of flowers and instantly asked me to plan. I immediately asked Praveen to confirm his status.
We chalked out dates: 2nd August – 6th August. (As Ranjan couldn’t leave on 31st and Praveen couldn’t afford to miss his office on 7th.
Our Planned Itinerary

DAY 1 1st August : Neil and Ranjan leaves for Haridwar from Patna, while Praveen leaves for Rishikesh from Noida.

Praveen was supposed to reach in morning and find about landslides and taxi enroute Joshimath

2nd : Night at Rishikesh

3rd : Rishikesh to Ghangaria  via – Srinagar>Rudra Prayag>Karnprayag>Chamoli>Joshimath>Govindghat

4th: VOF

5th: Ghangaria>govindghat>Badrinath>Joshimath

6th :Joshimath>Rishikesh

Situation : Due to heavy rainfall, there were multiple landslides between chamoli and Joshimath

Actual events:

DAY 2 :  2nd August: Due to All India Power Blackout on 31st, my train was delyed and we finally reached Rishikesh at around 10PM. Praveen had to reach from NOIDA so he manged to reach before us. We had planned to stay at Ganga Ashram(swargashram) but they denied giving room to one person(Praveen). So Praveen had got us a room at Ganga Guest House.

DAY 3: 3rd August: As per our plan we left the hotel at 4AM for the Bus terminal. But unfortunately even after waiting for 20 mins at Ram-Jhula, we couldn’t get any auto/Vikram to bus terminal. Fortunately a Scorpio stopped before us and asked us where we wanted to go. It was a scorpio running under the contract of BHEL and was returning to Srinagar after dropping someone at haridwar. The driver in order to earn some extra money, offered us Rs 150/person. As we had lost a lot of time, I instantly agreed and supporting Ranjan’s logic that Scorpio’s power/acceleration is more than Tata Sumo and would be faster.

scorpio to Srinagar UK
The Scorpio we got upto Srinagar

chamol praveen
Praveen @ Chmoli
It was around 7:30 when we reached Srinagar Taxi Stand. We withdrew some money at PNB ATM. We then came to know that sumo/jeeps weren’t plying between Chamoli and Joshimath because of multiple Landslides. But the driver told us that people could via TRANSMIT. I wondered if people of Chamoli have invented TELEPORT, but later I came to know that it meant that local taxis will take you to the landslide blockage and you will have to cross over and take another shared local taxi to the next landslide blockade. We booked the taxi and set forth for Karnprayag via Rudraprayag. From Karnprayag, we took another shared Sumo to Chamoli. It was at Karnprayag that we stuffed our bags with some food item.
3 of us at Chamoli
Ranjn @ ChamoliChamoli Landslide Aug  2012
Praveen @ Broken bridge
Finally at Chamoli we saw that some police barricades blocking the road towards Joshimath. On reaching the barricades the police informed us that the roads was blocked 3Km ahead due to land slide. Immediatedly after the blockade, there were a few Passenger Vehicles. We took one of the vehicles to the landslide. It was a rocky landslide and the water current was quite strong here. We crossed the landslide, but no vehicle was immediately next to it. We did find a few vehicles around 300m away from the slide. We clicked a few pics at a broken bridge near the landslide and moved to take the next shared taxi. The taxi wala informed us that there was one more landslides at Birahi before the Patal-ganga landslide where we were headed for. He warned us that we can get stuck at the Birahi slide and we did get stuck there. 

Birahi Landslide august 2012
Birahi landslide praveen Birahi landslide

It was a muddy landslide with road having vanished. The BRO(Border Road Organization) took another 50 Minute to clear it off and another 10mins wasted as some Security Personnel TATA 407 got stuck in the mud as it was vacant and finally BRO vehicle had to push it out. When we were about to reach the PatalGanga slide we saw a huge line of vehicles from the Joshimath side. The line seemed around 7-8 km long in the meandering road. I was awestruck when saw the PatalGanga slide. It was a rocky slide comprising of small rocks. With Increased Heartbeat, we carefully and cautiously crossed the landslide to grab another shared taxi to Joshimath.


Enroute joshimath, we saw quite a number of Probable Landslides. We finally reached Joshimath at around 1400HRS IST and as I thought of heading towards Govindghat, I heard both of them planning to have lunch as next cities were VEG. I told them that our aim was to reach Govindghat as early as possible as we had to reach Ghangaria same day but my advise couldn’t stand before their hunger. Having our Lunch at Joshimath, we headed for Govindghat after booking 4 extra seats in the shared taxi to reach quicker. Taxi dropped us just outside Govindghat, we walked to the Gurudwara and it was almost 4PM. I told Praveen and Ranjan that I would not need a horse and started wearing my shoes. I told them that I would reach faster than the horse. I even had a bet that if I reach late, I would put a pic of mine holding my ears, buy they did not agree and put me on horse.

Govindghat start of the 14 Km
Lets Start !!
Govindghat river
Govindghat !
Praveen @ Govindghat Bridge
Praveen @ Govindghat bridge

My friends got a Mule while I was put on a horse It was at around 4:30 that we started off. And around 1.5KM later, the horse leaped towards left and dropped me from its back with my left leg stuck to the horse’s foot rest. I fell on my back and its been a year since then, but the pain hasn’t gone.

Next I declared that I won’t be using the horse and even then reach along with the horse. I bought the local raincoat for Rs 30 and moved on. The path was steep and beautiful. I also met a few foreigners descending. All asked me the same question—how much more ?? The entire path is either rocky or deformed steps – both dotted with SHIT – of course mules’.

Ranjan on Horse mule to ghangaria
Ranjan and Praveen on Mules

I ran, hopped, skipped, jumped, walked but did not stop till I stopped for a Parle-G. I took the Parle-G, removed my raincoat and kept walking. On my way I found a porter walking along me. I walked with him till Bhyundar village which is almost 10 km from Govindghat. It is here where the Milestone signage by the GVMN is wrong and you will curse them on noticing the remaining KM not changing even after walking for almost a KM. Anyways, the road became steeper and I told the porter that I wouldn’t be able to match the pace and he walked away.

The road was steep and I was getting tired. Till now the horses were behind me out of sight.

The road came very close to the violent river, next crossed the river bridge and then it became dark. Torch was in the bag on the horse. Rest of the 4 Km which was the steepest, I had to go without light. The condition has gone adverse, my clothes including my shoes were completely wet, the road was not visible in the moonlight. I had no option but to keep walking. I didn’t even have a watch to check the time. I was waiting for the horses to overtake me so that I could take my torch in the bag. But that did not happen. The horses did not come even close to me. I found a few locals descending . Every such person I saw, I asked them to show me the route by their torch light as far as possible. The road had become steep and my legs were giving in. Hardly 2KM was left when I stopped to eat. There was a young fellow at a small stall who was about to close the place. I do not drink tea, but here to warm my body, I did take a glass of tea, Held it in my hand to feel the heat. Next I had a Maggi. I heard few horses but unfortunately they weren’t the ones I was waiting for. Since the horses did not overtake me though I had stopped for long, it made me assume that the horses have taken another shortcut and must have reached Ghangaria by then. I paid and started off again. Road was not visible, There was hand Railing, which helped me to go ahead. Places where hand rails was missing, I used stick to checkout road. At a place, I saw wide stream of water reflecting moonlight. It meant there was no tree above me now. I cautiously walked the stretch by sitting down and crawling so that I do not lose my balance in the water. It was while returning that I got to see what it was exactly. Next I came across a small cemented room. It was meant for the mules managing committee. Finally after a steep hike, I reached just outside Ghngaria. I could see the village but not the road leading to it. Light in village was hardly 100 m from me but I could not see the path leading to it. Tried had to locate the path among the woods but failed. Finally I decided to walk straight no matter what comes in the way. It was all muddy and smelly still I walked and walked and reached the Ghangaria..MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.- GHANGARIA IN ONE DAY. RISHIKESH to GHANGARIA same day.

Next was to find my friends. Since Ranjan’s relative had booked us a room at Forest Guest house, I headed for it after asking few people about its location . When I saw a forest dept sign, I stopped and asked the personnel about my friends. They said that no one had come and nor had they received any communication about the bookings and that the person who receives wireless communication was not available . I walked out and walked and to my relief, I found both my friends coming on mules. Finlly we decided to take a hotel and not wait for the wireless person since all of us were wet and highly tired.

Hotel room Ghangaria
Hotel Room @ Ghangaria

We took the hotel just opposite the forest dept office.
At the hotel, we asked the person to not to wake us up at 3 am as we were not headed to Hemkund. But alas, a Sardarji woke us up to borrow toothpaste from us.
Day 4: Woke up at 0600 HRS IST while both my friends were asleep. Tried to catch network in my phone by going to roof top but failed but was startled by the scenery. 25-IMG_239821-IMAG000323-DSC_0259
                            27-DSC_0265View above ghangaria   
<ABOVE: View from our hotel roof top. The ice capped mountain is where the VOF is, i.e. its just below it>  
I took a stroll down the lane of Ghangaria to check out the place. Bought a MOOV and came  back to hotel. Local people told me that VOF opens at 9AM. Tried waking up my lazy partners for an hour and finally set off to have our breakfast followed by the trek.

Breakfast @ GhangariaGhangaria Village view from trek routeTowards Ghangaria from Valley Of fowers 
<Breakfast @ Ghangaria               View of Ghangria from the trek route      the trek route to VOF and Hemkund>
After GhangariaVAlley of flowers trek mapValley of flowers Entrance Gate   
< All set to start the trek                             Map of Valley Of Flowers                      entrance of VOF >

We bought our tickets at the entrance gate and headed towards the VALLEY. It was round 4.5 KM before the real valley started. The path initially was friendly and looked manmade, but later it became tough. Had to cross a stream then later a bridge and then the steep road began. It was then that I noticed that my friend Praveen was missing. He was too bus clicking pics of flowers in the route. No matte how many  times I told him that the valley has not yet started, he did not listen to me and kept on clicking pics and thereby reducing our speed. 

Ghangaria to Valley of flowersEnroute Valley of flowersValley of flowers route pathTrek Route Valley of flowersBridge enroute VOF   
< Few pics of trek route of VOF from Ghangaria>

Next we came across a glacier. There we met an avid trekker who gave us a lot of useful advises and motivated us to walk on the glacier.
 Enroute VOFRoad Valley of flowersValley of flowers trek
Finally we reached the starting point of the valley that started with a big rock as its landmark.

 neil running valley of flowersValley of flowers routeValley of flowers trek glacier tt 

VOF glacierGlacier Valley of flowersVOF starting bridge

It was raining and we came across lots of YHAI travelers. They did not go into much depth of the valley.

We started off and then Praveen declared that his camera battery was low.

It was cold but we kept on clicking pics.

We crossed a few streams but few were dangerous  too. One stream was so cold that we had to open our shoes after water entered it.

Vally of flowers icy waters
When water entered our shoes and froze our feet
Streams inside Valley of flowers

strong enough to support my weight !!Valley of flowers inside 

 Finally we reached a point where we couldn’t cross the stream as it was too wide and the water current was too strong.
So we turned around and started our return journey. We met a few people from Delhi who seemed to have entered the valley a bit late.

  We moved to the big rock at the starting point where we saw the avid trekker waiting for us. He was actually waiting for us. He lent us his camera battery and we clicked a few pic there.. including his. We also met a BABA who told us that he would be spending the night there. Another Baba took a different route and didn’t tell us where he was going.

Trekker at valley of flowersValley of flowers trekker starting point trek viewDelhi Group @ Valley OF Flowers

Valley of flowers trekker starting point trek view (1) Valley of flowers trekker starting point trek view (2) Valley of flowers trekker starting point trek view (3)

On our way back, the stream of water had become stronger and crossing them had become difficult for me as I am fat. At the entrance gate, the ticket counter man asked us how many people were still in the valley. We informed them and  moved on !!

VOF TREK strEem water icey VOF TREK strEem water icey (1) VOF TREK strEem water icey (2) Did u notice the Jig-saw
by the time we reached Ghangaria, Ranjan’s feet had given in. He was unable to walk anymore. And we were so hungry that we barged into the first place to eat we found. The food was bad but we had no option but to eat it.
It was at hotel that Ranjan and Praveen got a TEL-MALISH(OIL – Massage) done on their feet.
We finally slept off and woke for dinner.

Valley of flowers entranceNeil @ ghangaria  Restaurant at Ghangaria  1-DSC_0254
DAY 5: We had already planned to not to visit HEMKUND as Ranjan’s legs had given in. So we decided to get to govindghat and try to visit Badrinath if time permitted.
We woke up, had our breakfast , booked a mule for luggage, bought a walking stick and started our downward journey.

gOVINDGHAT TO GHANGARIA Breakfast at Ghangaria Camps @ Ghangaria

Helipad @ Ghangaria Ghangaria to Govindghat route GOVINDGHAT GHANGARIA STEPS 
On the way we stopped twice to have food.

dHABA govindghat ghangaria Govindghat Ghangaria VOF Hemkund trek River Along Govindghat Ghangaria trek route rushing water

baba @ bhuyndar BHYUNDAR Stall Govindghat - Ghangaria

Govindghat to Ghangaria Trek Flame at Dhaba Govindghat to Ghangaria Dhaba after Bhyundar VOF GHANGRIA
It was after the Bhyndar Village that we saw the beautiful river on our left and decided to go till the river. The moment I stepped off track, I was stung by something. I hurt real bad. I found that it was a plant. The sting was such that my leg got paralyzed for a moment. It took me 15 minutes before I could start off again. A local guy told that it was Bichoo (Scorpion) plant. They told me that the irritating sensation would last for 8 hours. The pic of the plant is below/

netelle netelle 1

We reched Govindghat at around 1630 HRS IST.
Praveen suggested that  we should visit Badrinath. All shared taxis had disappeared by then, we were late. We managed to book a Sumo. The driver told that  road was bad and it really was worse than I had thought.

 Govindghat to Badrinath Govindghat 2 Badrinath roadCrushed Car Badrinath Flash Floods

 Badrinath Badrinath 2  32-DSC_0592

We left Badrinath for Joshimath at around 1900 HRS. It was a wrong/dangerous decision we made . The road was bad and landslide prone. We reached Joshimath at night, took a hotel room and went to have our dinner.

DAY 6:  Woke up with the Police Announcement that the road ahead is blocked and warning people to not to head for Rishikesh. The police warned that even yesterday the same warning was given but people who had forayed are either stuck or or had to return.     We checked out of hotel, had our breakfast and started looking for any vehicle that could take us to the landslide. Finally after lots of  struggle we managed to convince a Sumo driver to take us upto the landslide. He agreed to take us upto a point from where there was a small steps road to the landslide point. We agreed and hopped on.

Traffic after Joshimath landslide Joshimath Landslide splash

BRO tried clearing the road but even after 2 hours of our waiting, the road wasn’t cleared.
So we decided to slide down to the road below and walk till we get a vehicle. We did it.

24-DSC_0616  stuck jamHelangChamoli Taxi stand 

There were numerous vehicles lined up. People were cooking food and enj0ying the rod blockade. Then we walked for around 3 KM till we found a shared sumo till Chamoli. From Chamoli we got  another shared taxi to Rishikesh and we reached Rishikesh at around 2200 HRS IST>

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