Switzerland is a dreamland for globetrotters, a haven for spending vacations. What if you experience a similar heavenly feeling in a small Himalayan village in India? Doesn’t it instil a feeling of pride and ecstasy? Harsil, an offbeat tourist spot in Uttarakhand, stands in comparison to the beautiful country in Europe. Truly can be named as the Mini Switzerland of India.
Harsil is present at a very prominent location in the state, on the path towards the holy Hindu pilgrimage site, Gangotri. The river Bhagirathi flows past the village, magnifying the eccentric beauty of the little hamlet. Travellers visiting the famous Chitkul pass often cross past the quaint village. It is encircled by the mighty Himalayan mountain peaks, portraying a stunning aura of its own.
Locals belief that once the two rivers Jalandhari and Bhagirathi had a conflict on their importance and were raging in anger. The gods were worried on them being turbulent and destroy the adjacent lands. They seek help from Lord Vishnu. He transformed himself into a huge stone and controlled the anger of the two rivers. The stone came to be known as Hari-Shila. Hari is the other name of Lord Vishnu and Shila is stone. From then onwards the village, located near the rivers, earned its name as Harsil.
The Enigmatic Charm
The village blooms with its spectacular flora and natural wonders. Wrapped by dense green forest plantations of the tall pine, deodar and oak trees, it offers a thrilling experience to the nature admirers. The pristine environment prevailing around the surreal village is a solace to the human heart and soul.
Nestled within the lap of the majestic Himalayan mountain ranges, it’s gorgeous beauty is unparalleled and limitless. The place is famous for its apple orchards, spread across the valley. The picturesque landscape encompassed with the mystic grandeur enhances the magical charm of the village. No wonder one can spend days after days relaxing within its vicinity engrossed into its scenic beauty.
A Trekker’s Paradise
Harsil has a stunning trekking trail through the forests and amid the mountains. The trekkers are greeted by its enthralling green plantations, the soothing breeze and the fresh air. It is a splendid feeling to stroll through the pathways, listening to the birds chirping across the forest trees. The gushing sounds of the waterfalls, the rippling sounds of the river waters and the pure air refresh the mind.
Meet the villagers
While in Harshil, you can visit the village folks residing in there. You get a chance to learn about their life, their occupations, their way of survival, their customs and traditions. The villagers are friendly, simple and love to share their food and drinks with the tourists. The best part is you can taste the local food prepared in traditional cooking methods. The locals often serve as a guide and feel happy to escort you to the apple orchards. You can try out tasting the apples and purchase some of the fresh ones to carry back with you.
Near the village, there is a Tibetan community who have settled there for years and closely belong to the region. Their houses are made of wood, artistically decorated and curated skillfully. You can also find the Jadh tribes residing in the village whose colloquial language is similar to the Tibetan verse.
The Religious Significance
Apart from natural beauty, the village has an auspicious inkling as well. Being located at the vicinity of Gangotri, every year during winter the place turns out to be divinely significant. The idol of Goddess Ganga is kept at a place called Mukhba near Harsil. The Goddess stays there entire winter season since the path towards Gangotri remains blocked due to the heavy snowfall.
It is recommended to visit Harsil during the summers. The days are pleasant and comfortable for sightseeing. Winters are better to be avoided as the place is heavily snow-laden and chilled. If you love snowfall then you can visit but you won’t be able to trek across the mountain trails.
Harsil is well accessible within different parts of the state and also convenient for people travelling from other states. Rishikesh railway station is located closest to the village. Jolly Grant airport is the nearest for travellers boarding flights. Several buses and cars ply between the village and the adjoining areas.
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.