A Lifetime Trip

…creating colorful memories

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5 Kinds Of Indian Weddings, Must To Attend, Once In A Lifetime

Indian weddings are filled with rituals and celebrations that go on for few days. The wedding is attended by many people. The idea behind Indian weddings is to celebrate and share the happiness of joining together and blessing the couples who are on the verge to start a new life. The tradition Indian weddings deal with bringing together two families socially and emotionally. India is a land of diversity. From north to south and east to west there are thousands of rituals and customs to be followed. Indian weddings always give the chance to know about different customs and traditions and finding happiness in accepting those.

There are many different types of weddings in India. The most popular Indian weddings are Hindu weddings, Parsi weddings, Islamic weddings, Gujarati weddings, Punjabi and Sikh weddings, South Indian weddings, Maharashtrian weddings, Oriya and Bihari weddings, and Christian weddings. Here are 5 kinds of Indian weddings that you must attend once in your lifetime.

(1) South Indian Weddings    

In India, marriage is not just a union of two individual but two families as a whole. South Indian weddings are celebrated in such a way that the couples have to share strong social bonding and lifelong commitment to each other. South Indian weddings start by tying full-grown plantain trees at the gate posts, garlands of mango leaves tied everywhere, decoration of flowers, rangoli designs, and the notes of nadaswaram spreading everywhere in the wedding place. The smell of fragrance sticks and the holy fire adds, even more, beauty to the place. The bride is well dressed with saree, flowers, and garland. The groom also wears white or cream dhoti and peta on the head. Tying mangal sutra is the most common and valuable rituals of all Hindu marriages. Overall, the wedding scene is so beautiful that you will feel you have visited heaven.

(2) Punjabi and Sikh weddings

The Punjabi and Sikh weddings are filled with positive energy, cheerfulness and excitement. The weddings take place during the night and people dance and enjoy the whole night. These weddings are a source of delight for the whole community. The Punjabi and Sikh weddings rituals include Roka, Mehendi, Varmala/Jaimala and milni. The wedding starts with a pooja carried out by the priest to the groom in the late evening. Then, the bride is escorted to the wedding place and another pooja is carried on by the priest, the couple and the families. This is followed by a custom known as kanyadhan where the father hands over his daughter to the groom. Then the couple encircles the holy fire seven times and the wedding comes to an end where all the elders bless the couple.

(3) Oriya and Bihari weddings

The Oriya Bihari marriages are very simple and do not believe in showy weddings. The pre-wedding rituals begin by inviting the near and dear ones. The groom arrives at the wedding place with a procession called as Barajatri. On the other side of the wedding, the bride takes a ceremonial bath known as Baadua Pani Gadhua custom. After this the kanyadhan ritual takes place and the couple goes to the groom’s house. On the eighth day of the marriage, the couple visits the bride’s house and here ends the marriage rituals and customs.

(4) Maharashtrian weddings

The Maharashtrian weddings are the simplest and least luxurious in the whole country. In this type of wedding, most of the rituals are done in the early morning. The wedding rituals begin right from the matching of the horoscope of the boy and the girl. Sakhar Puda is the first ritual of Maharashtrian weddings where the bride is gifted with saree and sweets by the groom’s family. Then, the Kelvan ceremony and the Haldi ceremony are performed. This is followed by Grihapravesh where the groom’s mother welcomes the couple to the house by washing their feet with milk.

(5) Parsi weddings

Parsi weddings take place in Goa which is quite different from the Hindu marriages. There is a lot of zeal and enthusiasm in this wedding. The rituals performed are simple. The Parsi weddings start by performing a ritual known as Achumichu where the bride’s mother encircles a tray of raw egg, rice, supari, coconut and dates seven times and throws it on the ground. On the other side of the ground, she throws the water. Then a grand reception is organised where people bless, eat delicious food, dance and enjoy.

Indian weddings have similarities even though there is a lot of uncommon rituals and customs. The North Indian weddings, north-east Indian weddings and Western Indian weddings are also very beautiful. You will see the beauty of common in uncommon practices. If possible never miss out any Indian weddings as they are unique in their own ways.

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What you won’t see if you don’t see Punjab

What you won’t see if you don’t see Punjab

Punjab is the heart of Sikhs community. Punjab is famous as the land of five rivers namely Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Jhelum, and Chenab. The fertile soil, fresh air, green farms, beautiful scenery, and abundant flow of water will make you feel heaven. It is the land of exciting culture and tradition. The people of Punjab, commonly known as Punjabis will treat you with generosity and care. The people are very helpful and kind. The food of Punjab is very tasty and healthy. If one visits Punjab then he can see everything that happened right from the time phase of kings, British to the modern India. If you don’t see Punjab then you will miss a lot of eyes-filling happiness and heart filling delight.

Harmandir Sahib

Harmandir Sahib or the place for all God and popularly known as the Golden Temple is the holy place for Sikhs. It is located in Amritsar, Punjab. The temple is build in the middle of the holy tank Amrit Sarovar and has an entrance from all four directions thus, greeting people from all backgrounds to the place of divinity. The temple is made up of white marbles and decorated with gold. The temple is constructed below the ground level signifying that one must be down to earth. The temple has placed Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh community’s holy book on a raised platform studded with jewels. The temple feeds around 35000 people on a daily basis. If you don’t visit Punjab then you will surely miss this heart to warm place.

Jallianwala Bagh

This is a 6.5-acre park constructed in the remembrance of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. This park also comes in the vicinity of Harmandir Sahib temple. One can experience that moment as the park has all the marks, postures and heart melting scenes of the massacre.

Pul Kanjari

Pul Kanjari is a historical monument located 35 to 40 kilometers away from Amritsar. It is believed that Pul Kanjari was the place of romance for Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his favorite wife Rani Moran. The monument is built in a Persian style having twelve doors for the fresh air to enter. The king had a restroom here. Apart from the twelve doors, the place has a temple of Shiva, mosque, gurudwara, and a lake (Sarovar). Rani Moran was a Muslim dancer and the king was very fond of her. The building of a bridge across the Sarovar has a reason behind. So do not miss to visit this place in Punjab.

Akal Takht

Akal Takht is one of the five seats of the power of the Sikh community. It is located in the golden temple. It was designed for providing justice related to secular issues. It looks very beautiful with illumination on Guru Nanak Gurpurab day.

Baradari Garden

Baradari garden is located in the Patiala city of Punjab. The name is derived as the garden has twelve entrances. Bara means twelve and dar stand for the door. It is built in a Mughal style and is constructed next to Baradari palace. Rajinder Singh resided in the Baradari palace and bought rare species to the garden.

Bathinda Lake

If you miss visiting Punjab then surely you will miss the nature’s most beautiful water body, the Bathinda Lake. It is known as the city of lakes for Punjab. The boat ride, fresh air, pleasant weather makes a perfect hangout place in the evening.

Durgiana Temple

The Durgiana temple is known by different names like Durga Tirath, Lakshmi Narayan temple, Sitla Mandir, etc. It is situated in Amritsar and is built in the style of the Golden Temple. This temple is also built in the middle of a lake and has canopies and domes similar to the Golden Temple. The temple is also known as a silver temple as the doors are decorated with silver.

Butter Chicken

The people of Punjab are very fit and fine. The dishes they prepare are so tasty and delicious. The juicy chicken dipped in creamy gravy will make your taste buds enjoy the most. The authentic flavor will make you go mad. Along with this delicious spicy food, the people’s care will add even more taste to the dish.

Sarson ka saag aur Makki ki roti

Sarson ka saag and Makki ki roti are the most famous dishes of Punjab. The dish is so delicious that you can never stop licking your fingers. If you miss visiting Punjab then you will be missing out the most delicious food of all.

You will miss the most delicious food, beautiful parks, and lakes, romance filling environment and monuments, patriotism filling parks, divinity filled place if you miss visiting Punjab. Therefore, make time for visiting this place. More than all, you will surely miss the kindness and generosity of the Punjab people.

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Top 10 destinations for snowboarding in India

Top 10 destinations for snowboarding in India

Snowboarding is a pleasuring giving activity and a sport where a person has to descend from a snow covered slope standing on a snowboard that will be attached to his feet. Snowboarding developed from skateboarding, skiing, surfing and shielding. This game is also a winter Olympic and Paralympics sport.
Snowboarding is an activity where you need to balance yourself on a slide board by fully covering your body with layers of woolen clothes to protect from the chilling and cold weather.  Snowboarding and skiing are often confused by common people. Skiing is an activity where people propel on the mountains using two thin planks and two ski-sticks.
In India, snowboarding and skiing are popular winter games. Skiing is more popular than snowboarding in India. Here are 10 destinations for snowboarding in India.

1. Gulmarg

Gulmarg, in Kashmir, is known as the heartland of winter sports and is the 7th largest destination in Asia for snowboarding and skiing. It is located in the district of Baramulla. This place provides the best long run snowboarding experience on its natural slopes and easy floating on the soft snow in India.

2. Solang

Solang valley located 12km away from Manali is also a place for snowboarding in India. It is popularly known as Solang Nala. It one of the favorite places for the tourists to play winter games. The snowy scenery, cold weather and woolen clothes and its warmth add even more beauty to the place. People celebrate festivals in the winter. Tourists from all over the world can come and view the festival as well as enjoy snowboarding and other sports.

3. Pahalgam

Pahalgam is one of the premium places for winter sports in India. This place is very popular for snowboarding and white-water rafting. The snow capped mountains adds a mesmerising view of the place. This place is very popular among trekkers, nature lovers and adventure seeking people from all over the world.

4. Auli

Auli in Uttarakhand is a beautiful place with clean surrounding and glittering snow everywhere. It is located 250km away from Rishikesh on the Garhwal hills; Auli is one of the most visited places in India. It is specially visited by people who would want play winter games like snowboarding.

5. Narkanda

Narkanda is located on the Hindustan Tibet road. It has an elevation of 2708 meters. This is also a premium place for snowboarding. The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) offer snowboarding and skiing courses which cost from INR 900. Most of the tourists will love this place because of its peace and natural background. This is the best place for snowboarding.

6. Kufri

Known for its immaculate natural beauty, Kufri is also a place for snowboarding and other winter games. It is not as steep as other places and it is a suitable place for the beginners of snowboarding. It is a charming destination and an adventure seeking tourist should never miss this place. Also, HPTDC organizes the annual winter sports festival in Kufri and tourists can enjoy this event.

7. Mundali

Mundali is known for its steep slopes and beautifully covered scenery. This place is the most upcoming place for snowboarding. Mundali comes near Dehradun and the schools and another place near Mundali provide equipment for snowboarding and other winter sports for making best memories in your life. Snow sports and camp lovers will get the best experience in Mundali.

8. Munsiyari

Munsiyari is on the banks of Goriganga River in Uttarakhand. This is also one of the preferred places for snowboarding, trekking, and other sports. This place is the gateway to Johar Valley. Munisiyari hosts many activities for professionals and novices of snowboarding. It is very popular for snowboarding.

9. Rohtang

Rohtang is known for snowy valleys and mountains. It comes near Manali and is famous for ecstatic winter games. It is an ideal place for all adventurous sports. Snowboarding is played the most among other winter games here.

10. Dayara Bugyal

Dayara Bugyal is also a very popular place for snowboarding in India. This place is in Uttarakhand and provides bliss for snow and nature lovers. Here, people and few organizations provide combo packs for winter sports and trekking.

In crisp, snowboarding is a popular game in India and there are many places that provide space for many tourists to play snowboarding and other winter games. Along with enjoying snowboarding and other games, you will also be blessed to enjoy the breathtaking nature, fully covered by soft, clear snow. Never miss these places as you will be exposed to a different kind of experience and you will love it!

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Travel to 10 ‘no network zone’ of India

Travel to 10 ‘no network zone’ of India

Have you ever thought why we require mobile network or internet connectivity when we have come on a vacation? The most obvious answer from most of them will be to update status and photographs on facebook, snapchat and other kinds of social media. But, there are few people who feel it is unnecessary to do so because they believe travelling equals spending time with ourselves rather than being connected with friends. But sometimes I feel that we require network and connectivity for safety purposes. In the age of twitter and facebook, it is hard to believe that there still exist places that do not have network and internet connectivity. It is unimaginable to lead a life without network and internet connectivity. Here are 10 popular tourist places claimed to be ‘no network zone’ of India.

(1) Agumbe, Karnataka

Agumbe is known as Home Of King Cobras and a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site. It is also believed that this place is more famous for wandering souls. This is one of the most cut-off areas where it is pretty obvious that there is a complete evasion of the network. This place is tucked in a corner of Western Ghats.

(2) Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh

Chanlang in Arunachal Pradesh is known for road journeys and virgin beauty. This place also belongs to the list of unexplored places and no network zone in India. ‘Hell’s Pass village’ and ‘Lake of No Return’ are few famous tourist places in Changlang.

(3) Ice Kingdom, Zanskar, Jammu&Kahmir

Famously known as ‘heaven on earth’, Jammu and Kashmir also has few places that are termed as no network zone of India. One of them is the Ice Kingdom in Zanskar (Jammu Kashmir) which is known for its natural beauty and is fully covered with ice. This place is mainly famous for ice rafting.

(4) Valley of flowers, Uttarakhand

Valley of flowers is a national park in Uttarakhand and is claimed to be a no network zone of India. This place will hold your breath as it has wonderful sights of many different beautiful, attractive flowers. A 10km trek in this place will melt you to the beauty f nature. This valley is covered by snow-capped mountains along with 300 different varieties of alpine flowers. This is the best place to come and enjoy the beauty of nature and add colour to your smoke and dust-filled eyes.

(5) Kheerganga, Himachal Pradesh

Kheerganga is located on the highest point of Himachal Pradesh and is far away from the city. This place can be reached only by trekking. The beautiful meadow welcomes you as you climb up the mountain and surrounded by giant snow-covered mountains. Kheeraganga is known for the hot water spring and it is a no network zone in India.

(6)Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh

Chitkul is a village on the Indo-Tibetan border. It sounds cool to have a trip to this place. It not only sounds cool but a travel and trip to this place are the best as you will have a chance to view snow filled mountains surrounding the village, green lush grass covering your feet and domestic animals grazing everywhere in this place. Chitkul is also a no network zone of India. This place is also visited more by the tourists like the way they give a visit to Manali and Shimla.












(7) North-East India

The remote places of North-East are all no network zone. North-East India is a growing tourist place in India and most of the places here are unexplored. The main tourist places include many hills, mountain ranges (Himalayan mountain ranges) and lakes.

(8)Lungthung-Dhupidhara, Sikkim

Sikkim is the best place to have a relaxing time surrounded by mountains. From this place, you can clearly see the view of Kanchenjunga range and this is a place that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. Lungthung-Dhupidhara in Sikkim is a no network zone in India.

(9) Dandeli, Karnataka

Dandeli in Karnataka is famous for trekking, wildlife safaris, and white water rafting. It is also known for its nature beauty and has no proper network connection.

(10) Swargarohini, Uttarakhand

Swargarohini is the highest peak in the Gangotri range of mountain in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. This mountain is the source for a number of rivers. This place also has poor or no network and internet connectivity. But, the place is so awesome that you will not require any connection with anyone. You feel that the snow covered mountain will touch the sky very soon. The view is very beautiful.

The no network zones of India have network and connectivity problem but it is worth visiting these places as each of them offer you beautiful and different lifetime experience.

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The Abode of God (Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar)

The Abode of God (Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar)
Believed to be the centre of the Universe, and revered by people all over the world, Mt.Kailash and Mansarovar region in Tibet is truly pure bliss! They say that only those who have the purest of hearts can reach this near impossible terrain. The adverse weather conditions and treacherous routes also compound to make it a less visited place. It no wonder then that only a few thousand people are able to make this trip. We happened to be amongst those lucky ones!
About Mt. Kailash
Mt. Kailash towers with a dignified presence, at 22,000 ft. According to Hindu beliefs, it is the abode of Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess Parvati. It is part of the Trans himalaya in Tibet.

Resembling a cone of pure white snow, Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being one of the world’s most venerated holy places.

The Yatra

The ‘yatra’ or trip to this place of great worship is surely an experience of a lifetime. It is known for its religious values, adventurous nature, blended with sights of spell-bound natural beauty.  The sheer spiritual energy that flows through the mystic place actually stirs the innermost depths of people, whether religious minded or not, thereby cleansing their souls in some way or another- such is the charisma of this magnificent region.

Reaching there
We had been planning our trip since a long time and after going through a series of paper works and medical checkups, we were all ready to embark upon the journey to the place considered to be the home of Gods. Our tour operator gave us a list of instructions given ranging from harsh weather conditions, to appropriate packing of luggage, including ample food and medical supplies. After going through a series of road trips and short haul flights, we finally arrived near Mt. Kailash.

One can reach there by helicopter or by road. The journey commences at Kathmandu along Nepal and then moves to Tibet (China side), which requires immigration formalities to be fulfilled and planned beforehand. We met people who had trekked to the same location. They spoke of living the rough way the fun way. They got to stay in huts, and sleep on floor mattresses which was both humbling and exciting, refreshed that they felt every day, breathing in the crisp and clean air and marveling at the natural expanses of beauty all around.

Be prepared
The place is at a very high altitude and it takes some time to acclimatize to the surroundings. General recommendation is to drink plenty of water, remain calm and quiet, rest as much as possible and eat all meals properly. Usually tour operators and staff take good care of all the visitors and we were also very happy to be in company of knowledgeable, courteous and helpful staff. We were fore-warned that temperatures here fluctuate way too often; so we had to be prepared to face the sudden changes from sun shine to snowstorm within minutes. On the contrary, we were all very excited and hoped to see this dramatic change! However, we did not get a chance, as we were accompanied by beautiful weather throughout, which was a blessing actually!
Mesmerized beyond words
Having seen the place only in pictures till now, we were awestruck to behold the captivating beauty of the area with our naked eyes! The landscape around the mountain is rugged and dry but crossed by crystalline blue streams and other water bodies. The contrast so well blended, like an artist’s dream creation!
Behold Mother Nature’s own mirror
The blue and emerald hued Lake Mansarovar is the highest fresh water lake in the world at a height of almost 15000 feet. The beauty of the round lake with mirror reflections of the surrounding snow clad mountains, the sun and white clouds in the clear blue sky is entrancing! Around ninety kilometers in circumference, the lake is a personification of purity and tranquility. The calmness of the lake coupled with the majestic aura around it offers a serene atmosphere for meditation and soul searching.
A ‘parikrama’ of the lake is believed to draw out all evils from the inner soul. Our heads bowed down in respect and reverence as we touched the holy water. We drank the pure and sweet waters and took a dip in the lake in our humble attempt to clean all our sins. We were pleasantly sensitized to take utmost care neither to use any chemical (even soap) nor pollute the water in any way.
Heritage beliefs
Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar have various mythological stories associated with it. While Hindus believe that the lake is formed by Lord Brahma, the Creator, and manifested on earth for performing rituals, Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha was conceived at the very lake. They also believe that Buddha, representing supreme bliss, resides on Mt. Kailash. The first Jain Tirthankara, Adinath Rishabh deva is said to have attained Nirvana at Ashtapad Mountain near the lake.  The Bon (an old religion in Tibet) believe that the entire region is a bed of spiritual power.

So many faiths, yet one common factor runs through all these beliefs – that the purity and piousness of the region has spiritual and healing powers and thus must be respected in every way!

More interesting attractions
The lake is supposed to be the abode of summer bird ‘hansa’ representing wisdom and beauty. The lake has a few monasteries on its shores, the most notable of which is the ancient Chiu Monastery built on a steep hill, looking as if it has been carved right out of the rock. Seat of ancient learning, next to the placid beauty!

Lake Rakshastal, considered to be the place of severe penance by ‘Ravana’, is around two miles away from Mansarovar Lake.  It is quite ironical to witness the co-existence of two contrasting water bodies at the same place; one being held in high regard and worshipped while the other considered the lake of demons and denounced by the locals.

The unifying spirit

Irrespective of the varied religion beliefs, the noteworthy point is the dedication and humane spirit which unites people of different caste and ages while visiting the region. One is drawn to the simplicity of life and finds fulfillment in the harshest of terrain, trek and climate during the ‘yatra’. A common belief is to do the ‘yatra’ with patience; leave over-confidence and arrogance behind along with heavy physical baggage if any.

Pleasant absence of all forms of materialism

While many of the visitors would be expecting to find temples, saints, loud rituals such as ringing bells and performing elaborate ceremonies, along with the presence of donation boxes at the Mount Kailash, surprisingly there exist no such materialistic and superstitious omens. The majestic place engages the mind and soul to see the divine outside the temple. It is the perfect place to realize the ‘Nirguna’- formless aspect of the divine!  A welcome change indeed!

Feelings ignited forever

The Mount Kailash-Mansarovar journey bestowed on us blessings of God signified by the strength and majesty of the mountains, the calmness of waters, and the warmth of the simple human life which cannot be compared to anything else in the world.

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Best time to visit Gujarat

A hot and dry state as such, Gujarat can be visited anytime during the year. But a perfect time for a fulfilling holiday would be the winters that are pretty decently pleasant.

Summer months: April to May. Not recommended but the lone hill station of Saputara is pretty popular in these month among the travelers.

Monsoon months: July till September. Again not very popular although, but the cities like Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Jamnagar, Saputara, Dwarka and Rajkot does see tourists during these months.
Winter months: With temperature falling down to the range of 12-27 degrees, winters is a perfect time to be at Gujarat! Be it Rann, Gir, or temples of the city, or the deserts of Rann, its an utsav altogether for the exploring eyes.
When you are here, you would be marveled by the simplicity that these people have to offer. They are colorful, vibrant, warm, traditional and peace loving. The very popular festivals of the state are the kite festival, Uttarayan, Modhera Dance Festival, Kutch Utsav and Holi. Witness the fervor during the nine nights of Navratras. Each night of this festival people gather together in open spaces to dance and celebrate (ras garba is the dance form). You would be amazed to witness the people whirling in circles together with rythmic steps as late as upto 2AM every day!
So when you are here, you would love to stay here, for its the Khushboo Gujarat Ki that will not really let you go!

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Switzerland of India – The Valley of Flowers

Switzerland of India – The Valley of Flowers
I met one of my friends who also loves traveling and trekking after a long time. She had come to my house and was very boisterous and chirpy. The first words out of her mouth were “Wow!”, “Beautiful” and “Mesmerizing”!She had just been to Switzerland she informed! Intrigued as I was as I knew she did not have a passport, she opened the mystery. She was referring to a place in India which was like the European beauty – the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand!
Her tales were so entrancing and her description so interesting that I decided to visit there myself to experience this wonderland first hand. I applied for a weeklong vacation and headed to Hemkunth Sahib and The Valley Of flowers!
The Preparation
I read up about the place and saw pictures about it while I was busy planning for the trip. Helps to build excitement, doesn’t it? I was surprised to learn that The Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
We booked a trip as a part of a group, to keep us company. Our guide proved to be a veritable font of information about the areas we passed through on our way. He started with the story of Hemkunth.
The History of Hemkunth
Considered as one of the sacred Sikh pilgrim centers, Hem Kund or Hemkunth in Uttarakhand was mentioned by Guru Gobind Singh in his book Bachitter Natak. He had written about meditating at a frozen lake surrounded by Sapt Shring Mountains. Even the exact location of the place was not known till the nineteenth century. It is all because of the efforts of Pandit Tara Singh, a Sikh scholar, a retired Granthi (priest) and an Indian Army sepoy that we know about this place now. They had written about this place in various personal accounts and finally were able to match it with the description of Guru Gobind Singh.
As a result, a Sikh shrine or gurudwara has been constructed around the lake and is called as Hemkunth Sahib. It is located at an awe-inspiring height of 15,200 feet! It is open only during summers from the month of May till September. The pilgrimage is closed the rest of the year as it is covered with snow and is not accessible.
The Journey
We started from Haridwar to Gobind Ghat which is about 275 km drive away. We were advised to stay at Joshimath rather than Gobind Ghat as it has better hotels and rest-houses that are easilyavailable. From here starts the actual journey, which we embarked upon the next day. The the 22 km travel to Gobind Ghat is motorable. Rivers Alaknanda and Lakshman Ganga meet at Gobind Ghat, where a gurudwara has been built right on the banks. It is a beautiful and serene place.
Armed with trekking gear as acquired by our guide from a small market there, we moved forward while our taxis waited patiently for us to return. This is the place to get porters and mules for those who cannot travel by foot.
For the up-styled and those who could afford not to walk by to take to the skies, there is a helipad which offered helicopter services up to Ghangaria, the nearest location to The Valley of Flowers.
The other name of Ghangaria is Gobind Dham. To reach here, one has to carefully tread a rocky path of 13 km, comprising of uneven road. This is also the base camp located at the height of 3050 mfor the treks leading to Hemkunth Sahib and The Valley of Flowers.
We were informed that Hemkunth did not have any provisions for staying overnight other than the gurudwara guest houses. Other local eateries or dhabasprovide food, blankets and mattresses in the open grounds.
Hemkunth Sahib

We joined a group called the Jathas, with euphoric atmosphere of chants and hymns. We had to cross the suspension bridge near river Alaknanda. From hence on, there was a steep path with zig-zag cuts along the hills. Lots of refreshments and snacks were sold on the way for the pilgrims. The route is painted and colorful with Sikh devotional messages. After five km of trek, we were elated to see the first snow peak. Then we rested and the climbed the final three km of steepest ascent to Gobind Dham, which is a small town that has a gurudwara and a resting place for pilgrims.

From here on the final two km are covered with snow encounters. The silver roof of the gurudwara comes into view, finally giving way to a serene structure along the shimmering lake in the lap of seven mountains. The gurudwara was pious, clean, and the spiritual visit definitely cleansed our souls! The divine seemed to come to bless the devotees personally here!
After a night’s stay at Gobind Dham, we headed back to Gobind Ghat and resume our trek to the Valley the next morning.
The Valley of Flowers
We had to trek for about 3 km with our guide from Ghangaria crossing the bridge over River Pushpawati. The route is quite scenic, and one does not feel tired due to the freshness all around. On reaching the Valley,we had to pay the entry fee to enterthe park. Personal cameras are allowed, but professional videography equipment is not permitted.
This is what we had come all the way for! Unforgettable images still linger in my mind! Ihad seen Himalayan Blue Poppies on the way to the Valley along the path we had taken. To our surprise, they were not found anywhere else once we left the path. River Pushpawati flows in its own meandering path through the park. There are so many waterfalls in the park that it creates a beautiful rainbow effect in the right light. Imagine countless rainbows appearing magically when the sunlight is at the correct angle!  There aren’t enough words to describe the beauty!
The Valley looked like a velvety multi-hued carpet laid at our feet; waiting for us to admire its many colors and variations! Sheer bliss at the pure colors of the nature laid out at their best! We saw many varieties of poppies, orchids, daisies, anemones etc. Flowers stretched for as far as one could gaze, gorgeouslyinterspersed with greens that we were told are various medicinal plants and herbs, providing cures for many common and rare illnesses. Garden of Eden surely!

Not only is the Valley abundant in plant life, it has a great habitat for animals too like the red fox, musk deer, langur, black bear and brown bear in addition to snow leopard. Flowers attract the nimble butterflies and the Valley is no exception. The variety of butterflies found here is staggering with over a 100 types fluttering about amongst the colorful flowers. We also saw spotted birds like the Himalayan golden eagle, snow partridge, Himalayan monal, sparrow hawk and griffin vulture.

The terrain was almost flat in the Valley. We must have walked about 4 km, crossing many streams, big and small, with chilled water tickling our feet and calves. Our guide took us on a scenic route with lot of gurgling streams till we came across one which was bigger than the others. It started raining suddenly and we tried to huddle together. Our guide laughed! We understood at one because the rain stopped just as quickly. How could we have forgotten the sudden rains here that we were told about at the guest house?
The idyllic setting comes complete with a packed picnic sort of lunch on the banks of that stream as a part of the planned tour. That trek sure works up one’s appetite! We scraped our food-platters clean without wasting a single morsel and repacked our trash back into our bags to dispose of later. The environment is fragile here, so we wanted to make sure it stays that way!
The Valley is the most mesmerizing creation of God that I have witnessed. By 5 pm, we started our walk back to Ghangariawith heavy hearts for leaving this paradise!
Wow, what a day! As I lay in my bed, it all seemed like a beautiful dream, too good to be true! No wonder my friend fell in love with the place and I have fallen for the place too. The twin journey of Hemkunth and Valley of Flowers is spiritual and mystical! Can’t wait to go back again to see Mother Nature’s paintings and portraits at their best!