Valley Of Flowers - Day 1: Mumbai – Dehradun – Joshimath
The name “Valley of Flower” pops up so often in travel blogs & sites that even before I knew it I had started unconsciously planning a trip to this beautiful valley. The plan finally materialized in last August. It was the best time to visit and we had a few holidays in one week. So we planned to fly north and travel further north to the valley.
The Route: Mumbai – Dehradun – Joshimath – Govindghat – Pulna – Ghangaria – Valley Of Flower
Day 1: Mumbai – Dehradun – Joshimath
Mumbai to Dehradun
As our first leg of journey, we chose to fly to Delhi and then Delhi to Dehradun. Often the preferred mode is to take train from Delhi to Haridwar or Dehradun, but we chose flight due to time limitation.
We started on Friday night, at 2:50 AM (technically Saturday) from Mumbai airport, prepared to have a long day ahead and probably even longer days to follow. We tried to catch as much sleep as possible in the flight before reaching Delhi at 5 in the morning.
Our flight to Dehradun was scheduled as 6 from the same terminal. So upon reaching Delhi we hurried towards arrival gates through domestic transfer. We had taken advantage of carrying rucksacks by not checking them in and carrying them as hand baggage. But as we first got glimpse of our next aircraft, we were not sure if it was such a good idea anymore. In short, it was tiny plane. It reminded more of a bus than a flight. Standing in the queue to board we could see inside the plane, that is how low it had been. As we got inside, we saw there were only 4 seats per row and a very narrow aisle. That was all fine, except there was no room for big rucksacks (higher than 50L) on the tray. We were asked to keep them in front of our seats.
So we sat in our seats with bags in front of our legs and waited for the flight to take off. After fixing some mechanical issue for more than an hour, flight finally took off and landed at Dehradun at 8:30 AM on Saturday.
Dehradun is a small airport, as one can expect. There’s no need for a bus to carry you from the aircraft to main building. Getting out of the aircraft we walked straight to the building. Inside, there was a baggage belt on the left side and toilets on the right. We crossed the room and reached the other end where the exit gate was. There, by the right side of the gate, were two pre-paid taxi counters.
We checked tariff for Joshimath and was pleased to find it on the chart and within expected budget – 6k for a non a/c Indica. However that feeling didn’t last long. We were informed, to our dismay, that roads were blocked and no cars were going to Joshimath. Now, it was not completely out of the blue, road block is pretty much a regular affair during monsoon months in those areas. Nevertheless, the news managed to shock us. After a brief discussion, we decided to try our luck in Rishikesh again. So we hired a car for Rishikesh for 700 bucks and kicked-off our journey.
Dehradun to Joshimath
As we started in the hired car out of the airport, towards Rishikesh, we started conversing with our driver. First regular things and then we asked what had been really bothering us – the road ahead. He quickly dismissed any potential road block issue and informed us that there was no major concern on that side. We probably would have not felt much confidence on his information, but he also offered a driver who could take us there in the same rate as prepaid taxi.
We agreed to his offer immediately and after a bit of wait and a little detour, we could finally start our journey of 265 km of slithering roads to Joshimath at 9:30 in the morning.
The route went from Dehradun airport to RIshikesh, from where we started following the river Ganga upto Devprayag. This was the same part of the river which I had enjoyed during last winter. But the colour was now muddy and opaque compared to the clear blue water that I experienced during last time. Devprayag is where Alaknanda meets Bhagirathi and the combined water stream is start being called Ganga. Bhagirathi comes from the west and Alaknanada from the east. Our route left Bhagirathi and followed Alaknanda for the rest of the journey. In fact through the duration of next 5 days Alaknanda would become part of everything we did in that trip.
In the beginning the road had been wide enough to be compared to any highway, but as we progressed it kept getting narrower. Often there was enough room to pass two vehicles only. Condition of road also varied throughout the journey. Sometime it was smooth, sometimes broken and sometimes it was just bare rocks we had to drive through. But most of it was decent enough for drive.
The driver had informed us in the beginning that we wouldn’t need to worry about food on the way, as there would be a town every 30 KM. This was quite true. Although the road between the towns were almost empty with no sign of any human residence or shops and only went through the wilderness of hills, every 30-40 KM we found a town big enough to provide all requirements in the road. After we left Devprayag, the next big town was Srinagar, which was around 40 KM ahead. We reached Srinagar by 1 in the noon and decided to wait for the next town for our lunch as we were not yet hungry.
Rudraprayag was the next town, which was 33 KM from Srinagar. We found a nice restaurants just before reaching Rudraprayag and stopped there for Lunch. It was an ordinary place with decent food. But a flowing river beside any simple place can make it look beautiful and even astounding. So was this place. Sitting by the window, we could see the green mountain all around us and the muddy white river flowing down in the valley. It was a beautiful view. But to be fair, so was every view on that route.
We ran into a small trouble after crossing Rudraprayag, when our tyre got punctured. But it was handled quickly and we were on our again. Further ahead we crossed the towns of Karnaprayag, Chamoli, Pipalkoti before reaching Joshimath. Road after Chamoli got very bad and once in a while we could see orderly dump of rocks on the side of the road, which could essentially imply a recent landslide that was cleared to open the road. Fortunately we didn’t face any landslide ourselves through the whole journey.
As we started getting close to Joshimath, the hills got denser and the river started to flow wilder. Just before reaching the town of Joshimath, we went thorugh a stretch of about 7-8 KM through beautiful roads surrounded on both sides by mountains, from where several waterfalls were flowing down to meet the river in the valley below, with no sign of any human life apart from us. That’s when I started to feel the true flavour of Himalayas.
Soon we took a few turns and the town came to our view. It was as big as any of the town we had come through in our journey. It had all kinds of shops and many hotels it seemed. We crossed most of the town and finally reached the place where maps showed our hotel. Upon enquiring, someone directed us towards the hotel which was just a few steps away. So we paid our dues, said goodbye to our driver and started afoot towards the hotel. I checked my phone for time and it was 5:30 PM.For Day 2 of our journey (from Joshimath to Ghangaria) check the following link: Valley Of Flowers - Day 2