Tucked away in the northern fringes of Dhauladhar circuit, Himachal, this hill station is the place to go to for a quiet getaway.
?Often called India's Switzerland, the exquisite glade of Khajjiar, 1960m has a circumference of about 5 km. Along its fringes, thick forests of deodar climb the slopes, the snow-line rests above these woods?,? says the government run website, which intrigued and hooked me to this quaint and resplendent valley.
If you still don't believe about the place being known as the ?Switzerland of India?, read this: ?Khajjiar was bestowed with the title of Mini Switzerland in 1992 by Willy Blazer, Vice Chancellor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland. Khajjiar is one of the 160 places in the world that bear tropical resemblance to Switzerland.?
Travel website Holidify.com has named Khajjiar as one of the most popular off-beat places to travel in India in an article on October 2014.
Khajjiar is tucked away in the northern fringes of Dhauladhar circuit, away from the squalor of cities. Not many tourists are aware of this valley. The usual crowd heading to Himachal would go to the done-to-death ?Shimla ? Kullu-Manali? route. But if you want something different and quiet, you should head to the Dhauladhar circuit. The nearest commercial town to Khajjiar is Pathankot, but that's more than 100km away. Pathankot is also the nearest railway head if one wants to reach Khajjiar from New Delhi.
Hence, I decided to plan our journey to Khajjiar through a combination of railway and road trips. We took the Dhauladhar express from Old Delhi railway station. The train departs at 7.30 pm and arrives at Pathankot railway station next day at 8.20 am. We had to struggle through Delhi's maddening traffic to catch this train. We caught hold of the train by a whisker.
The train was on time and we arrived at Pathankot for our onward journey to Khajjiar. We had arranged for a pick up through our hotel (Mini Swiss, Khajjiar).
The uphill journey began to unveil gradually, as we curved our way through pine and deodar covered forests and ridges in the Himalayas. At 1.30 pm we arrived at our hotel in Khajjiar. Hotel Mini Swiss is not one of those three or four star hotels that packs in all amenities and facilities, but nonetheless provides a comfortable accommodation, with friendly staff. It is one of the very few resorts in this area ? Hotel Royal Residency and the government owned resort - being the other ones. A quick shower in the mildly cold waters, a cup of tea and we were ready to head to the majestic meadows of Khajjiar valley. The meadows were pristine undulating landscape with a lake at the centre.
The meadows were surrounded by a sheath of deodar trees. It was a bright sunny noon and quite expectedly, tourists have thronged this place from nearby state of Punjab, Delhi and far off places such as Kolkata and Tamil Nadu. One could stroll around this verdant landscape for hours, have food from hordes of roadside stalls or take a slow pony ride. We bargained for it and got a deal of Rs 200 for a roundabout trip of the meadows.
The lake at the centre of this landscape looked quite dry and could have been managed well by the tourism department. It appeared bit scruffy.
Nonetheless, we spent a good 2 ? 3 hours here and enjoyed the sun, breathed in the fresh air and experienced the mist and the clouds. We gave another activity 'zorbing' a miss though.
Next day, we headed to the heart of Chamba valley. The town, at a distance of 26km from Khajjiar, has a brisk population. It was Dusherra and locals were seen gathering in large numbers in the main market ground.
We began our day next, early with a quick breakfast and headed for the trekking point in Khajjiar. The trek was marked distinctly and by the time we reached, we could see a bevy of tourists already lined up for the trek. The trek was a sharp 4km uphill and we joined in our excitement to reach the peak. All the hard work and efforts paid off when we got to see the view of the nearby hills and forest cover from atop the misty and cloudy peak.
Done with our adventure and achievement, we headed straight to the historical town of Dalhousie. The town had an insane old world charm to it ? the post office, church, schools; the ambience was magical. The weather was brilliant to say the least. We got down at the chowk and took a stroll sampling locally made momos. A walk down little further and we spotted Sunil. He is the town's most popular 'two-wheeler restaurant'.
If you have been to Dalhousie, chances are you may have come across Sunil. He can be easily seen selling fast food items at a brisk pace to tourists near the Dalhousie chowk. He usually sells omelette, French toast and hot piping noodles in his humble mobile scooter. He doesn't have a printed menu. All his food items are named in the body of his yellow scooter. He proudly flaunts a framed article of his interview given to a popular Hindi newspaper.
Khajjiar is connected by road and is 520km from New Delhi. It is 120km from Pathankot, which is the nearest railway station and 23km from Dalhousie. The nearest airport at Gaggal in Kangra is 180km away. Taxis and buses are available from all these places.
This entry has been shortlisted for Holidify's Travelogue Writing Contest in association with Linger. The content and pictures may not be used without prior permission of the author.
Submitted by: Amit Sengupta
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