The dreamy landscape of Switzerland is the world’s most scenic and sought after destination. Nine out of ten people dream of visiting this Alpine country at least once in their lifetime and the other ‘1’ already have! Dotted with quaint villages set against the backdrop of the majestic Alps; Switzerland is not just beautiful, it is ridiculously gorgeous.
Unfortunately for many of us, this slice of paradise can only be a far-fetched dream- and a very expensive one at that. If not Switzerland, then why not something similar closer home? After all, everyone deserves a Switzerland in their life!
Ever heard of Khajjiar in Himachal Pradesh?
This hidden gem in the Chamba district was discovered by Willy P. Blazer who happened to be the Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland. He called Khajjiar “Mini Switzerland”, thus immortalizing it as a great alternative to the more expensive cousin.
Switzerland v/s Khajjiar
Khajjiar with its pristine, picturesque landscape, verdant meadows, relaxed laid back vibe and dense deodar forests are quite perfect for nature lovers and adventure junkies. While we are in no way suggesting that one can simply replace the experience of the Swiss alps with that of Khajjiar’s endless pastures, we do think that there are perhaps other, equally fun uses for the lakhs of rupees you will inevitably spend on your Switzerland trip. Keep in mind, a cup of coffee in Geneva costs around 20 Swiss Francs, or, almost 1500 INR and a simple sandwich can set you back 2,200 INR! So, here are some of the things you can do with the money you save if you take a trip to Khajjiar instead –
- Adopt cows.
- Redirect the amount to Mutual Funds/FDs/other similar tax-friendly investments.
- Buy your parents a car or send them to Switzerland instead (they deserve it more than you).
- Start a new business.
- Get married (sure costs a lot of money).
Best time to visit Khajjiar
While the “Mini Switzerland of India” can be visited all throughout the year, winters can get quite chilly with temperatures going as low as 0 degrees. Occasionally, snowfall will block all roads but the summers are pleasant and languid.
Our Recommendations for Local Sightseeing
Khajjiar may be a very small town, but it offers a lot in terms of adventure, nature, culture and wildlife. Located only 24 km from Dalhousie, 595 km from Delhi, and 360 km from Chandigarh, it is well-connected and easy to reach. You can book a cab from Delhi to Khajjiar for a comfortable journey. Here’s a list of things you must experience when in Khajjiar –
1. Khajjiar Lake
Perched at an elevation of 1920 m, Khajjiar Lake is not your usual neighbourhood lake. Surrounded by tall alpine and deodar trees and a saucer-shaped meadow, the Lake affords stunning views of the valley below. A lot of backpackers head to the lake for a healthy dose of adrenaline, but nothing quite beats the wondrous panoramic views and the quietude of the summit.
2. Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary
Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary is a favorite among trekkers. Dotted with unbelievably tall blue pines and green oaks, Kalatop lets you admire the views of snow-capped mountains and a vast lush meadow. A number of wild animals call the adjoining forests their homes, such as the Himalayan black marten, jackal, leopard, barking goral, deer, bear and langur. And if you happen to be in this area in the summers, you will be treated to a bouquet of flowering plants, painting the valley scape in colourful hues.
3. Khaji Nag Temple
Sitting gracefully on the banks of the Khajjiar Lake, the Khajji Nag Temple is dedicated to the Lord of Serpents. This 12th Century temple stands out due to its golden dome and spire. The beautiful wooden carvings reflect a perfect blend of Mughal and Hindu architecture. Inside the temple, you can find idols of Hidimba, Lord Shiva, Pandavas, Kauravas and various snake idols. Brush up on some Mahabharata chapters here. Unfortunately, the age-old practice of goat sacrifice is still practiced here.
Khajjiar is blessed with some of the best trekking routes which pass through shimmering lakes, brooks and thick forest areas that lie in the shadows of the mighty Himalayas. Though the trekking trails may get difficult at some places, the incredible views are worth the pain and effort. One can visit the Dhauladhar ranges, a trek only for those experienced in summiting high-altitude passes, or, one could also hike to the easier Dainkund Peak, which is just a single day trek.
5. Take out some time to explore the villages around
Ladi and Rota are our top recommendations because of the apple orchards here. The glorious crown of Mount Kailash broods impassively over these tiny villages. The unspoiled beauty, along with the relaxed vibe of the town, and not to forget the Himachali food promises a relaxed holiday. If you are aiming for the authentic Himachali hospitality, look for homestays. Undeniably, homestays in Himachal are one of the best experiences to opt for. These attract travelers across the globe and have earned quite a reputation among globe-trotters!
Hotels and Accommodations
There are a number of hotel options to choose from. There is accommodation here for every type of traveler – be it budget travelers, backpackers or families.
For budget travelers, we recommend –
- Hotel Country Resort
- Hotel Mini Swiss
If you are looking for a lavish option, we recommend –
- Hotel Royal Residency
- Deodar Manor
Best homestays –
- Puri Guest House
- Anjali Homestay
- Gautam Guest House
In case you are unable to get your accommodation sorted, look for cottages run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism. They accommodate last-minute bookings and have also equipped their guest houses with modern amenities.
In conclusion, while Khajjiar and Switzerland offer very similar and at the same time very different experiences, this achingly gorgeous and serene town of Himachal Pradesh definitely deserves a visit!