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KHAJJIAR – THE MINI SWITZERLAND OF INDIA

Khajjiar, often called as India’s Switzerland, is a hill station in Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh. The hill station is picturesquely set in the midst of magnificent ‘Deodar’ forests. The clump of reeds and the green meadow add an exquisite charm to this place. A small plateau in its green turf of dense pine and Deodar forests along its fringes adds to the pastoral scenery. This offbeat place in India has the rarest combination of three eco systems. The lakes, the pastures and the forests come together to make a visit to this place a unique experience. Hence, it is also popularly called the Mini Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh.

Khajjiar sits on a small plateau with a small stream-fed lake in the middle that has been covered over with weeds. The hill station is surrounded by green meadows and dense forests. It is about 6,500 feet (2,000 m) above sea level in the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas and snowy peaks can be seen in the distance.It is part of the Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary.

On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it “Mini Switzerland”. He also put a sign board of a yellow Swiss hiking footpath showing Khajjiar’s distance from the Swiss capital Berne-6194 km. Khajjiar is among the 160 locations in the world that bear topographical resemblance with Switzerland. The counselor also took from Khajjiar a stone which will form part of a stone collage around the Swiss Parliament to remind the visitors of Khajjiar as a Mini Switzerland of India.

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There is a hotel and some cottages run by HP Tourism at Khajjiar where the tourists can stay. Besides that, there are two rest houses one each of P.W.D. and Forest Deptt. A couple of private hotels have also come up, which do not match the above places in terms of location and amenities. Most tourists travel to Khajjiar by private or rented vehicles. Bus service to and from Khajjiar is limited and timing changes according to local demands. The best entertainment in Khajjiar is to walk around the lake or to go for long walks in the thick pine forests. Children enjoy this place because of the freedom of movement and the sloped terrain which permits them to roll down to the lake without getting hurt. Another attraction is horse riding.

As you keep on going, after some time, you enter the ‘Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary’ and you also see the beautiful ‘Lakkar Mandi’. The whole journey is enjoyable because the road leads you through the magnificent ‘Deodar’ forests. You can easily notice the deep quietness in the environment which adds to the beautiful experience of the entire journey to Khajjiar.

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Dense deodars, pines and lush green meadows are characteristic of Khajjiar. Since Khajjiar is situated at the base of the Dauladhar mountains, the tourists here can get panoramic views of the mountains. Khajjiar Lake is a small lake, surrounded by saucer-shaped lush green meadow and a floating island. The dense growth of weed called vacha has made its earth spongy. Now the banks stand covered by a thick layer of earth, formed by the years of dust settling down on the weeds.

A little away from the lake is the temple of Khajji Nag belonging to the 12th century AD. In the mandapa of the temple one can see the images of the Pandavas and the defeated Kaurvas hanging from the roof of the circumambulatory path. The sanctum of the temple has been beautifully carved from wood. This temple is dedicated to snake (Nāga) worship and there are some snake idols inside. Khajjiar can be reached from Dalhousie, the nearest major town and hill station, by bus in an hour or so. It has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest, all in one place.

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