In 1931, two British mountaineers, Frank S Smythe and R I Holdsworth, were returning from a trek up Mount Kamet in the Himalayas, when they lost their way and suddenly came upon an amazing sight – a valley carpeted with flowers of many colours! Frank Smythe was so fascinated that he returned some years later, and wrote a book about the place. He called it the Valley of Flowers, and that’s how it’s known even today.
Some of the Valley’s plants are found only in that region. Several have medicinal value. Many are in danger of vanishing from Earth. So, apart from being very beautiful, the Valley of Flowers is important because of the importance of the plant life.
In 1982, the Government made the Valley of Flowers a ‘National Park’. That means the plants and animals there are protected. In 2005, it was named a ‘World Heritage Site’. This means that other countries too are aware of its importance.
The Valley of Flowers is at the point where the Zanskar, the Eastern and Western Himalayan mountains meet, in Uttarakhand. From October to June it is covered in ice and snow, but when the snow melts and the monsoon starts, the Valley wakes up. The frozen plants burst into bloom.
The Valley has many different kinds of alpine flowers, like the Blue Poppy, known as the ‘Queen of the Himalayas’, and the beautiful Brahma Kamal, besides rare orchid species. Different sets of flowers bloom in different months, so the valley seems to be painted in different colours from one period to another.
The Valley is also home to various wildlife species, like the snow leopard, Asiatic black deer, red fox, blue sheep, gray langur and Lime Butterfly.
The Valley of Flowers is open from June 1st to October 4th.