Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2019
Thousands of Sikh pilgrims come to visit Sri Hemkunt Sahib every year. Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2019 is expected to start from the May 2019 till mid October 2019. Also, The Valley of the Flowers has been an attraction for botanists worldwide ever since it was 'discovered' in the year 1931 by the visionary mountaineer Frank Smythe. The trail to the Valley of the Flowers diverts from the main pilgrim trail just beyond Ghangaria. Because of the no-camping rule, it is unfortunately not possible to explore the complete 10km valley in the space of a day's hike, hence you will need to return to Ghangaria.
Starting from the town of Govindghat (28km south of Badrinath), a trail to the village of Gangharia (3048m) winds up. The trail to Gangharia, also known as Ghovind Dham is 14km is a stop-over for thousands of Sikh pilgrims en route to Sri Hemkund Sahib, as well as for visitors to the Valley of Flowers.
From Ghangaria, it is a further a 6km trek along a steep path to reach the of Hemkund Lake (4329m). An alternative trail splits left just above Ghangaria towards the Valley of the Flowers, climbing 5km to the mountain bugyals of the Bhyundar Valley. Starting at an altitude of 3352m, the valley is spread over a region of 10km. The fields are at their best during the monsoon, from mid-July until mid-August.
Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2019 Planning
When to Trek
The trail to Sri Hemkund Sahib & Valley of the Flowers is open from May until mid October. In May the upper regions of the trek will be under snow, while in July and August the monsoon rain falls. The best time visit the Valley of the Flowers is as soon as the winter snows melt in May. The wildflowers are best in July & August. Unfortunately, this is also the time when most of the mountain roads to Joshimath and Govindghat are subject to landslides.
Permits & Regulations
A permit is needed to visit the Valley of the Flowers. It can be purchased from the Forest Office just above Ghangaria. A three-day permit for foreign trekkers is Rs 600 and Indian trekkers is Rs 150.
Hemkund Sahib Trek
There are regular buses & shared taxis between Joshimath and Govindghat. From Joshimath, most buses continue to Badrinath.
Day 1: Govindghat to Ghangaria (5–6 hours, 14km)
The steady stream of pilgrims, particularly in May and June, provides a fiendly envirenment on the well defined trail that winds past villages and through mixed forest to the busy town at Ghangarai. Glimpses of Hathi Parbat (6727m) and Gauri Parbat (6708m) rising over 4500m above the trail provides a sense that we are approaching the high Himalaya.
Govind Ghat (1830m), on the right bank of the Alaknanda River, has hotels, dhabas and pilgrim shelters, along with shops selling colourful bangles and combs.
Cross the suspension bridge over the Alaknanda River and start the trek on the concrete path for 4km to the village of Pulana (2100m). Continue along the well defined trail that leads to the valley through a forest of oak, rhododendron, spruce and silver fir before winding down to the bridge over the Lakshman Ganga (also known as Bhyundar Ganga). On the final 3km the trail ascends steeply in places through the forest before gradually winding across the meadows to Ghangaria.
Ghangaria (Govind Dham; 3050m) is a large pilgrim complex, including a Gurdwara, lodges and a GMVN Rest House. There are many private lodges and a few campsites as well.
Day 2: Hemkund Sahib Return (5–6 hours, 14km return)
After the long journey, this is the ultimate day for many Sikh pilgrims. For most the altitude takes its toll on the 1300m ascent. Yet the happiness of reaching Hemkund (or Lokpal) is more than sufficient motivation. The lake was 'discovered' in 1930 by a Sikh teacher, who set out to find out where the Sikh guru Gobind Singh meditated in a former life. The description of the locality in the Sikh holy book Dasam Granth fits Hemkund – a remote lake surrounded by seven snow-capped peaks.
Cross the bridge above Ghangaria over the Lakshman Ganga. The trail ascends steeply at first before crossing a series of meadows to the stands of silver birch marking the upper treeline at around 3500m. The trail is well-defined and after each major switchback you will find a dhaba serving tea and snacks. While resting, the views back down to Ghangaria and across to the peaks above the Bhyundar Valley provides much inspiration to reach the lake.
While the stone steps that mark the final 300m to Hemkund Lake may appear winning, but they are considerably more tiring than the long and gradual trail.
On arrival at Hemkund (4330m), most pilgrims take a holy dip in the icy waters of the lake before visiting the gurdwara, built around 30 years ago.
The return to Ghangaria is by the same route. The joy of visiting the lake, together with heading downhill, ensures that most pilgrims are back at Ghangaria within a couple of hours.
Valley Of The Flowers
Frank Smythe in 1931 first brought the attention of botanists and trekkers to the Bhyundar Valley after a successful climb on Kamet (7,756 m). The team crossed the Bhyundar Pass in the rain and fog, the aim was to find a new route through the mountains back to Joshimath. As they descended into the shelter of the valley, the clouds lifted and revealed alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers. They were greeted with the view of primula, saxifrage, geraniums, asters, gentians, red potentillas, anemones, delphiniums, blue corydalis and wild roses. The many hundreds of flowering species actually lead Smythe to refer Bhyundar Valley as the Valley of the Flowers.
Valley Of Flowers Trek
Day 1: Valley of the Flowers Return (5–6 hours, 14km return)
The trek to the famous Valley of the Flowers is high on the wish list for many trekkers & it is not hard to understand why. The hidden valley is carpeted with wildflowers and enclosed by high mountains will never fails to amaze you.
From Ghangaria, cross the bridge over the Hem Ganga and start the trek to the entrance of the Bhyundar Valley. About 2km beyond the Forest Office checkpoint, the trail crosses the stream flowing from the Bhyundar Valley and continues on the true right. The 5km climb is more gradual than the one to Hemkund. On the ascent, the trail enters a gorge before the valley widens. There is a permanent snow bridge over one of the larger side streams. This marks the entrance to the valley (3850m).
The Bhyundar Valley is a glacial valley about 10km long and 2km wide, spread at an altitude of between 3650m and 3950m. It is distinguished by alpine glades, silver birch trees and rhododendrons, and is enclosed by Nar Parbat (5855m), Nilgiri Parbat (6474m), Rataban (6166m) and Gauri Parbat (6708m).
Well marked trails lead to meadows in abundance of wildflowers. Plan to spend at least three days appreciating the host of species even though you need to trek up from Ghangaria each day.
Day 2: Ghangaria to Govindghat (5 hours, 14km)
The return trek to Govindghat can be completed in a morning, allowing time to return to Joshimath the same day.
Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2019
|Start Date||May, 2019|
|End Date||October, 2019|
|Transport||Bus / Shared Taxi|
|Summary||Follow the Sikh pilgrims to the sacred Hemkund Lake (also spelled Hemkunt) and take day walks to the renowned Bhyundar Valley - the Valley of the Flowers.|
Hemkund Sahib & Valley of the Flowers Route Map
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