My first North India Visit - Valley Of Flowers.. 18th - 25th Aug 2015.

I always wanted to do one Himalayan trek but never got support or gut feeling to go! But the VOF trek all started with a chat, where myself and Monisha were discussing on our BTC trekking events. well Monisha is one of the organizer in BTC. And suddenly she said "I want to go VOF and its my dream place to visit". For a moment I said OK go ahead and take BTC people too. But she took it seriously and spoke to our BTC founder Virander. Surprisingly he also took it very seriously and sent all the plan details and available slots. Co incidentally my one more friend from BTC, Sangamesh(Sangu) was talking about Himalayan trek just one week before it. I messaged Sangu saying Monisha is planning this and whats your opinion. Sangu immediately said "Sir anyways we were planning Himalayan trek, lets go with our own BTC people". Those days my brother was in Bangalore, During dinner time slowly I took this topic and asked Amma, shall I go VOF trek! got green signal from brother but it took 2 days for me to convince my Amma. Finally on 16th April I said Monisha, YES I am joining VOF. Even Sangu said lets go!

So we opened our event on 17th April 2015, where Monisha was working alone on this and I was on my way to my hometown! As soon as we opened events responses started hitting like anything! we were getting so many calls, emails regarding the same. We have received more than 20 registration within few hours of time and we were forced to close our registration. This is the first time we closed 8 days long event within few hours! Everyone was very happy from the BTC organizing team. And Me and Monisha were Super excited! We shortlisted 15 people. And we started working on this.

One month before our trek, we read it in news paper that flood alert is given to Uttarakhand. People were struck in Hemkund saheb due to land slide and bridge collapse. and VOF trek is closed till 30th June 2015 by Govt of Uttarakhand. We waited till 30th June 2015 to get further update and the news from our guide was very positive and he gave green signal saying "Everything is fine and plan is on!" by that time, 3 people dropped out as they had their own personal commitment.

Finally the day has Arrived! Yes its 18th July 2015!
Booked Ola cab at 3:25 AM but after 5 successful cab changes finally they allotted me one cab, which arrived at sharp 3:25 AM. I started my journey immediately, as planned I got down near esteem mall, Hebbal and was waiting for Monisha. She came at 3:50 AM, Her dad dropped her. We were waiting KIA bus' for more than 15 Minutes. Then we took a OLA immediately by 4.25 AM we reached but OLA didn't stop me to get into airport so easily! some technical issue made me to waste my 10 minutes of time! greeted Sushma and Sangu, who were waiting for us. and then we met Hema, Rajalakshmi, Vaishnavi, and Lakshmi. We dumped our baggage and went to security check even though there were hundreds of ladies than few gents! still our gals escaped the security check very quickly than we two boys! we spent around 40 minutes in security check it self. when we were about to get our things back, got a call from Monisha saying we need to come to gate number 14. We started walking very fast now and at the same time I saw the final call for indigo 6E-132. we started running and its like all were waiting for us to welcome! we entered the bus. As soon as we entered, bus started moving! I was like Oh me!! we are the last two people to board! so the First VOF journey started with a KICK!!!

Luckily I got window seat! but with all the selfies, photo session, Yes my First flight journey finally started YO!!! started with excitement slowly it became bit boring as there no other view than those special clouds!! everyone slowly dozed off! our pilot safely landed us in Indiragandhi airport, Delhi. And first impression its very cloudy here but temperature!! Oh me! so humid it is. Plan is to dump our luggage in Old Delhi railway station and it took more than 2.5 hrs to reach old Delhi. Had our Brunch in railway station canteen then we decided to visit Akshardham. With this climate and Akshardham rules made us very tired! spent around 2-3 hours in Akshardham. Came back to old Delhi and been to paratha galli, had nice parathas and lassi. Once we were full, we walked slowly in Delhi street and Reached Red fort. Beautiful it is! Monisha didnt had paratha, and Vaishnavi wanted to eat in McD so we all went inside McD. It was ramzan time, and McD was fully crowded. some how we got place for all. mean while Aswan, Archana and Nasreen joined us. Then we headed towards our station where we are supposed to board our train to Haridwar. After getting to train, with some chit chat, we said good night and slept off.

Train reached on time at 6:00 AM and I called our driver. We had our official intro session. everyone was super hungry! we didn't get any hotel for next 2 hours. then we stopped our vehicle  near one small village for breakfast. After reaching Srinagar of Uttarakhand we had Orange juice and ate lots of pineapple. We got one small land slide which made us to wait for 2 hours but our bad luck, we got one more! this time i was very bad one! Varunavat Mountain crack causes landslide within next few km in Raturi Sera Village. In between our vehicle stopped working. Gear liver of our TT got struck. After hours of attempt, our vehicle became proper but it started raining, we encountered to see one more land slide on the same spot, on top of the previous one. I must stay its really very very scary! around 6.45 PM landslide area got cleared and they were allowing only 2-2 vehicle from either side, as only one vehicle can pass on the land slide area. When our vehicle about to cross the land slide area, gear got jammed for fraction of seconds. On our left abyss!!, where we can see Alaknanda river just at the edge of over vehicle, if the vehicle would have struck at that point, we didn't had enough place to get down also!! One of the scariest moment of my life! YES, I was Very scared! Everyone were so hungry and thirsty, I made sure we get something to eat, We stopped at small hotel and took one liter of water bottle to each one of us and some snacks. Mean while was communicating with our guide who was in Gangheria ans asking us to reach Gangheria by 10:00 PM. And My first bad experience with the driver started from this point. Driver told our guide I will make sure, we will reach on time but with me, he started saying "I cant drive in this night, its raining and so many land slide's, I cant take risk with my life, I have got two kids and wife". Little heated argument started but since he was driving I don't wanted to upset him. It was raining, No street lights, narrow roads and we were able to here the stones sound falling from top. When we reached Nand prayag it was 9:00 PM and still we need to cover around 80kms. We decided to stop there and stay in near by hotel. We stayed over night in Nandprayag and next day early morning we started towards Joshimath first. Reached Joshimath, met our team guide Monte (Manish). After having breakfast we reached Govindghat, kept our extra cloths in hotel Bhagath. took parcel for lunch and started our Trek.

Trek to Ghangeria: It was sharp 12:00 PM that we started our trek. We were supposed to cover 18kms and our guide clearly told us to cover the distance in maximum 7 hours!
We decided to carry our bag and trek along with it. We trekked along with our bag for 2 hours covered around 6-7 kms. Had lunch sitting in one corner where we get stream water. After lunch we decided to dump our bag in mules and to cover the remaining distance in little lesser time. The entire 18km is completely inclined stretch, With small small breaks, at 7:00 PM we all reached Ghangeria. Reached hotel Devlok where our luggage's were dumped and we checked in to our rooms. It was very cold place and we had hot hot soup and had our dinner and most of them slept. Even though Monte asked be ready at 7:00 AM in the next morning, I didn't inform people as they were very tired. Morning 7 I asked people to get ready and be ready 8:00 AM. We had our breakfast, carried parcel for lunch and started our VOF trek.

Trek to Valley of Flowers: It was sharp 8:30 AM, With full enthusiasm, team started VOF trek, paid the entry fee. Weather was so nice and with lots of photography we all started trekking. Beautiful Himalayan view, I enjoyed the time and used best of it to capture best of all. VOF trek was simple, like a normal one day trek. We reached Valley and I decided to be alone as the atmosphere was so nice. I wanted to spend some time with the silence. other went ahead in the valley. After some time I started doing photography and suddenly it started raining heavily. I saw everyone coming back. I made sure my cameras are safe. And took a shelter. We decided to descend as it was raining slowly, in between people were feeling hungry so they had parota. It was radish parota, I decided not to eat even though I was hungry ;-) while descending we did lots of photography and spent some time near the glacier and all. Reached hotel around 6:00 PM. We wanted to try local food and visit some shops to purchase interesting stuff. As planned we did that. Also watched video on VOF it was beauiful, so much information were shared with us. After dinner I informed everyone to be ready by 6:00 AM in the morning as it is going to be tough Hemkund Sahib trek and Don't want to miss any part due to rain. As it is expected sudden climatic change in Hemkund after 2:00 AM.

Trek to Hemkund Sahib: As planned everyone was ready by 6:00 AM but food wasn't ready. I made sure hotel people got up and prepare something for us to eat. We had corn flakes and bread butter jam. And started our trek at sharp 6:30 AM. Vaishnavi health was not proper because of food poisoning so we took mule for her and Lakshmi accompanied her. And we started our trek. Trek distance was 16kms(Up & Down). We started steadily. And made sure we were on time. Our people didn't find it as difficult as it was hyped. May be we were mentally prepared our self or we have got used to it. we got our encounter with huge glacier and we spent enough time and did some photography. Once we reached Hemkund Sahib, everyone was speechless as the view was so beautiful! we all sat for sometime enjoyed the environment. We went inside the Gurudwara and attended the prayer and got nice sweet as prasad. We came out and did some photography and went to have langar. I was having lots of head ache, Some other people also had. I had got head ache in the beginning of the trek itself, as I recently stopped drinking Tea. With lots of memories we got down from Hemkund sahib, Even though the trek was moderate everyone found it easy. Reached back to hotel, had evening snacks after having some chit chat, played cards and had dinner. Again informed everyone to be ready by 6:30 AM in the next morning to descend from Ghangeria.

Back to Govindghat: After having breakfast we started our descending at 6:45 AM. Dumped all our luggage in mules and we started our journey. We thought of doing it fast, as we decided our roadtrip to haridwar on the same day. We came back to Govindh ghat within 4 hours of time. We packed our luggage and had our lunch. We started our road trip towards Haridwar. Plan is it to reach Srinagar so that we can get into some hotel stay over night and next day reach Haridwar early and explore Haridwar. As planned after lunch we started at sharp 12:00 PM and reached Srinagar at 6:00 PM. Checked into govt lodge and stayed there over night.

Road to Haridwar: Today I made sure everyone get up bit late, Had breakfast and started our journey around 9.30 AM and reached Haridwar by 1:00 PM. We got one room in Gurudwara, kept all our luggage and Went out to have lunch. After lunch we decided to explore temples and places around it. First we visited Mansa devi temple, where we take rope way to the temple. It was a nice experience. Mean while we had local chat and tried different foods around. Evening time we reached Ganga ghat and waited for Ganga arthi, It was beautiful!! felt very freshened! Monisha took Ganga jal in one bottle. After pooja we decided to checkout from our room and reach railway station. In between we had nice dinner. After reaching railway station we had our BTC feedback session. Got mixed response :-)

Our train came on time, everyone got into the train took their seat and slept off. Next morning train reached old Delhi railway station on time. Again few of us got separated as the flight was scheduled at 3:15 PM. Some of us wanted to do some shopping but they were taken back by the humid climate and decided to have just the breakfast. Me, Sangu, Monsiha, Sushma, Hema, Rajalakshmi & Vaishnavi were left, Nasreen and Aswan had train, Lakshmi decided to be in airport itself, Archana went to her friends place and Kumar had his special plans ;-) We dumped our luggage in Airport metro and went out in search of breakfast. Sangu searched one near by hotel but I felt the hotel was not good so we walked for around 1.5 km further, I can see the frustration and anger in everyone's face, even I was feeling bad inside for them but some how I convinced them to come with me and we had breakfast in a small hotel. Food was good. We took a cycle rickshaw but that guy took us to a wrong direction and made us again walk for 1km. Finally we reached metro. We decided to get freshen up. We reached airport, had our lunch at KFC. got into our flight. This time I was not that excited and found flight journey is bit boring too :-P. Reached Bangalore at 5.45 PM. WOW homely feeling! felt so nice o reach Bangalore. Where ever you go, how much ever you enjoy but the best feeling is always the end, when you reach your home!

So what I learnt from this trek!
a. Have faith in yourself.
b. Know your potential.
c. Have enough patience, Specially when you are taking a group of people along with you.
Many more!!

Learning is a endless process, learnt a lot as an individual, as well as an Organizer.

First experience is the best experience; Awesome VOF trek, will be remembered always! Thanks to BTC, Monisha and all my co participants.

BTC ~VOF Gang!
From Left Aswan, Nasreen, Archana, Sangu, Sushma, Vaishnavi (Small Girl), Hema, Rajalakshmi, Monisha, Gaurav (Me), Kumar, Lakshmi.


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