Dreaming of a vacation in Switzerland? Right now, if it is not materializing, you need not worry. You can still pack your bags and have a short trip to Khajjiar the ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India.
Khajjiar, a Himalayan hamlet, in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, is known as the ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India because of its topographical resemblance to that of Switzerland. It is a plateau with lush green pastures, a stream-fed lake, the rolling-meadows, surrounded by forests of pine, deodar, and fir climbing up the slopes to meet the sparkling white snow line. The snow-capped Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas at the backdrop brews up the magic.
Khajjiar has been a significant spot on the world tourism map since 1992, when the Swiss Envoy, Willy P.Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India, called it the ‘Mini Switzerland’. There is a cute signboard of yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar’s distance from Berne, the Swiss Capital – 6194kms.
Picturesque Khajjiar has been a favourite shooting spot of Bollywood. Kajol-Shahrukh starrer ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, Sonakshi-Ranveer starrer, ‘Lootera’, and Pankaj Kapoor’s starrer, Vishal Bhardwaj’s movie ‘The Blue Umbrella’ based on Ruskin Bond’s novel, are some of the popular Bollywood movies shot here. Khajjiar has a few cottages owned by Himachal Pradesh Tourism and a few by PWD and Forest Department which are cozy and good but require pre-booking for accommodation. There are a few private ones too which are able to provide just the basic amenities.
Let’s move on to the things to see and do at India’s ‘Mini Switzerland’. Most of them can be covered in a day.
The Khajjiar Lake
It is a small lake with a floating island, filled with weeds, surrounded by saucer-shaped lush green pasture. Adventurous sports like horse riding, paragliding and zorbing are common activities around the lake. Tourists can even dress up in traditional Himachali attires to click photographs.
The Temples near the Lake
The 12th century Khajjinag Temple has its sanctum carved out of wood. There are images of Snakes, Lord Shiva, Hidimba Devi, the Pandavas and the defeated Kauravas on the temple. The Golden Devi Temple is also another temple near the lake and is popular for its golden spire.
The Panch Pandav Tree
This is unique deodar with 6 stems. Locals say the 6 stems stand for 5 Pandava brothers and their wife, Draupadi.
Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary (8200 feet)
Khajjiar is a part of Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary, an almost 31 square kilometer animal sanctuary with Himalayan black bear, deer, jackal, leopard, wild cat, deer, serow and Himalayan marten. The sanctuary has well laid out trekking trails amidst dense deodar, blue pine, oak, and fir forest. There are a few wooden cottages and the Forest Rest House for accommodation. Pre-booking is necessary if one wants to stay in these. The forest rest house is 15kms from Khajjiar Lake.
Trek to the scenic villages of Khajjiar- Ladi, and Rota. Have a feel of the laid back simple lifestyle and absorb nature’s bliss. These villages are famous for apple orchards and mid September-October is the best season for apples.
The trek route from Khajjiar to Dainkund peak is one with easy to moderate level of difficulty. It’s a beautiful camping site offering a 360degrees panoramic view.
Best time to visit Khajjiar, the ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India
Khajjiar can be visited at any time of the year. The spring and autumn bring colourful blooms all around, while the summer is cool and comfortable. However, if you are looking for a winter wonderland, do visit Khajjiar between December and February. Rolling on the snow on the slopped terrains of Khajjiar, with your family and/or friends is going to be a lifelong memory. Walking on the 3 inches snow carpet is alluring enough to bring you back every year for the Desi-Swiss experience.
How to reach Khajjiar, the ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India?
Khajjiar can be reached from Dalhousie (22kms) or Chamba (23kms) by road, by local bus or taxi.
The nearest railway station is Pathankot, Punjab, which is 96kms away from Khajjiar. Pathankot is well connected to Delhi, Chandigarh, and Bhatinda. From Pathankot, one has to take a cab to Khajjiar or alternatively a bus to Dalhousie or Chamba and then a cab or bus from there.
The nearest airport is Kangra Gaggal Airport at Dharamsala which is 118kms away from Khajjiar. There are buses and cabs available from Dharamsala to Khajjiar. Ideally, one should plan Dalhousie and Khajjiar together.
Khajjiar, the ‘Mini Switzerland’ of India, is not just a site seeing spot from Dalhousie. It deserves an exclusive stay. Experience it for yourself.
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