According to legend, when the Pandavas were on their way to Swargarohan where they were to take samadhi, Draupadi saw an exquisite flower floating in a river. She asked Bhima to find out where it had come from.
So Bhima set off upstream. As he walked between rhododendrons, oaks, firs, pines, deodars and silver birches, he could hear birds chirping, insects buzzing and occasional cries of animals. Then all of a sudden, everything grew silent and Bhima saw in front of him a saucer-shaped valley where millions of flowers of different shapes, sizes and colours grew in wild abandon. The beauty and serenity of the place overwhelmed him. Then plucking a flower that grew on a nearby ledge, Bhima returned to tell about the wondrous sight he had beheld.
For a long long time very few people knew of the valley, which lay in the Himalayas, between Rishikesh and Badrinath. The locals called it Bhyundar or the playground of fairies and nymphs. In 1931, English mountaineer Frank Smythe, who led the first successful expedition to Mt.Kamet, accidently stumbled upon the place, on his downward descent. The sight of hundreds of thousands of sprays in a riot of colour against the backdrop of the massive Rataban peak and the river Pushpawati flowing nearby, captivated him.
He and his team camped in the valley for two days, taking back with them a priceless collection of seeds, bulbs, tubers and plants. “It’s a valley of peace and perfect beauty where the human spirit may find repose,” wrote Symthe in his book the Valley of Flowers. The book made the place so popular that tourists from all over the world began to visit it and soon the valley came to be called the Valley of Flowers.
During the flowering season, the bed of the valley is like a gigantic greenhouse and the emission of carbon dioxide and other gases in the rarefied mountain air can make breathing difficult. People have been known to faint on entering the valley.