Flora and fauna spotted on the Govind Ghat to Hemkund trek, Himalaya Photo journal
The trek route begins all green and gorgeous and gets increasingly snow bound. In June the snow is still an impediment for trekkers, not so much in August.
Hemkund trek Map GM:64
Hemkund Sarovar Lake
Among the trees that I recognised, this trek route is lined with birch and deodar trees.
Himalayan Birch trees: Valued for their bark (Bhojpatra) which was used for writing manuscripts
The peeling bark fell to the ground.
Do not touch
The foliage has a rich aroma. Many of the herbs, shrubs and trees are valued for their medicinal value. At the same time many of them could be dangerous to touch. A little brush of some unknown herb could cause the whole hand to swell up, as it happened with my fellow trekker.
A red-leafed plant
Brahmkamal is a very special plant. It grows only above 10,000 feet in select areas in the Himalaya. It is strictly forbidden to touch, uproot, damage, or take away any flora from this trek route. Some plants could be dangerous, no doubt, as I saw for myself, my friend's hand swell up in seconds after a brush with a plant as he bent to tie his laces by the side of the trek route.
Brahmkamal is in a different league, though. It is revered as flower fit for the gods alone. Legend has it that anyone who plucks a Brahmkamal flower does not make the journey back home.
Wild berries on the trek route to Hemkund
This bird stopped by for a drink
A lizard sunning on the rocks
A sturdy Bhutia dog, napping in the sun
Sometimes these dogs fall prey to leopards, but if the dog's owner provides his dog with a spiked metal collar, the dog is known to have got better of a leopard in many cases.
Mountain cows resting after grazing on the mountainside
Pony ride up and down from Hemkund
The Valley of Flowers, which is about 3 km from Ghangharia is a pony-free zone. No camps are permitted. No fire. No shops. No accommodation. It's a pristine paradise of flowers.
A butterfly rests on Harpreet's shoulder
Back across the bridge to Govind Ghat
Photo credits: Nitin Sharma, Harpreet Singh Sethi and Aman Deep Singh