Imagine a magnificent spot on earth that is revered by both botanists and historians alike! An enchanting place that is rich in myth and legend and has been declared one of the most beautiful places in the world! If you are wondering what all the fuss is about, welcome to the famed Valley of Flowers in the state of Uttarkhand — often known as Devbhoomi or Land of the Gods. Nestled in the outstandingly picturesque Garwhal Himalayan terrain, the Valley of Flowers lies within the Nanda Devi Biospheric Reserve and was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1988.
There are several mysterious myths that are woven around this lush valley. The locals in the area credit fairy magic as the reason for this paradise on earth. They are convinced that the valley is inhabited by fairies and gods and call it the ‘Nandan Kanan’ or the garden of Lord Indra. Legends in the Ramayan speak of how Lord Hanuman, the monkey god came to the valley in search of the magical herb Sanjeevani in order to revive Lakshman, the brother of Rama. There is a temple dedicated to Lakshman in this Valley. Garwhali stories often refer to the valley as a creation of the gods who threw flowers from heaven in order to create a paradise on earth. Guru Gobind Singh, the sikh guru is supposed to have meditated here in the ‘Hemkund’ or the lake of ice which is situated in the valley.
This valley, which is a riot of colours, was first discovered in 1931 by British mountaineer and botanist Frank Smythe while on an expedition to Mt Kamet. Smythe stumbled upon the valley by accident and was astounded by its rich biodiversity. In his book called Valley of Flowers, he wrote that he was “at once transported from a region of solemn austerity to a fairyland of dainty flowers, most of them dwarf, but brilliant in colour” which is how the valley came to be named, The Valley of Flowers. In 1939 Margaret Legge, a botanist from Edinburgh, arrived at the valley for further studies. A passionate collector of flowers, she slipped while traversing the rocky slopes and was lost forever. Her sister later visited the valley and erected a memorial near the spot. The famous memorial still stands in the verdant landscape.
The Reserve is home to some exotic species of medicinal plants and flowers like the brahmakamal, the blue poppy and the cobra lily and contains over 500 alpine species. The entire Biosphere Reserve lies within the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area with a rough figure of about 114 bird species. Animals like the snow leopard, the himalayan monal, the brown bear and hundreds of varieties of butterflies find a home in the valley.
If you want to witness the myriad hues of the valley and succumb to its picture post card perfect-beauty, then head for your trekking gear and backpack right away!