Photographer's Note

A small picturesque saucer-shaped plateau surrounded by dense pine and deodar forests, is one of the 160 places throughout the world to have been designated "Mini Switzerland". Yes, this is Khajjiar, a tiny tourist resort in Chamba about 24 kms from Dalhousie; at an altitude of 6,500 ft. above sea level. The moment one enters the picturesque Khajjiar, one is welcomed by a yellow Swiss sign for 'hiking path' which reads "Mini Switzerland".

Set against the backdrop of dense pines, deodars and lush green meadow, Khajjiar is exquisitely nestled down in the foothills of the imposing Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas.

Khajjiar was officially baptized by the Swiss Ambassador on July 7, 1992 and as per records, a stone was taken here and forms part of the stone sculpture erected in Berne, capital of Switzerland.

Khajjiar is a very small meadow, shaped like a saucer, with towering pine trees rising up the hill crests all around. The rings of trees rise tier after tier, on the crests. Standing on the meadow one feels enclosed by the unbroken, rising green wall. The feeling is indeed overwhelming.

At the centre of the meadow there is a small stream-fed lake, 1.6 km long and 0.9 km wide, that has now been covered over with weeds and with an island in the middle. It has a rare combination of three ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest, all in one place. I am wondering whether the reddish/purplish growth is Heather. I am not sure, because I've never seen heather earlier.

The whole scene transports you to a different world, where man lives in harmony with nature. Sitting there, enjoying the timeless beauty of the meadow, one forgets that there is another world outside that ring of surrounding hills.

However, just like all the other places of tourist interest in India, Khajjiar too is badly neglected. Standing there I thought of some other less beautiful, but better maintained places we had been to elsewhere in the world. How inviting they are to the tourists. Here, we don’t seem to care at all. Still, the sheer natural beauty of Khajjiar is justification enough for visiting it.

This is a stitch of two pictures. I have taken the liberty of using the name of one of my favourite Pink Floyd albums as the title to the picture.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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