Sunday, May 29, 2011

Khajjiar in Less Than a Dozen Snapshots

"And I'd like to give my love to everybody, and let them know that the grass may look greener on the other side, but believe me, it's just as hard to cut."

Little Richard

Khajjiar looks like it belongs on the back of a postcard. It's little more than a tidy little meadow surrounding a puny lake and ringed by a dense deodar forest midway between quaint Dalhousie and the city of Chamba - 2000 metres above sea level. In 1992, the Swiss Ambassador officially baptised Khajjiar as the Mini Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh because it apparently harbours a rare combination of three distinct ecosystems: lake, pasture and forest for the price of one. I daresay "lake" is a rather immodest exaggeration of its sole body of water. It's more of a "pond" or "puddle" really. Now before any ecologists pop in to call me names, I want to just say that I know the distinction between lakes and ponds are not determined their size but rather by the presence of an aphotic zone - but I just couldn't call that wimpy patch of wetness in the middle of Khajjiar a lake with a straight face.

Nevertheless, it's a great spot to spend an afternoon, and I spent most of mine there sitting on the porch of an unoccupied wooden chalet writing, while watching holidaymakers make their holidays and honeymooners moon their honeys. Kids, I imagine, would love this grassy wonderland. They can ride horses and ponies. They can strap themselves inside huge plastic spheres and be rolled down the hill tumble dryer style. They can ride the wind on plastic wings as several men tow them by sprinting comically below ground. For tourists with absolutely no sense of dignity, they can pay to hold a bunny in a basketful of flowers while their companions photograph their moment of self-inflicted dorkiness.

Anyway, pictures.

1. That's pretty much all of Khajjiar right there in the picture.

Khajjiar Scenery
2. This is a view of Khajjiar from the opposite end of the clearing.

Khajjiar Switzerland Sign
3. A long way from the original.

Girl Hitting Boy at Khajjiar
4. The Battle of the Sexes starts young.

Sheep and Zorbing in Khajjiar
5. Bowl for sheeps while you're inside a giant, man-sized hamster ball!

Giant Shiva Statue at Khajjiar
6. A giant coppery statue of Shiva at a temple nearby.

Giant Shiva Statue Temple at Khajjiar
7. The surrounding mountains and valleys sure looks pretty. You can't see this from the Khajjiar meadow.

Blue Lizard at Khajjiar
8. Such a pretty colour. I wish I know a herpetologist who can help me identify this lil' feller here.

Ladybird in Khajjiar
9. A ladybird on a weird bleached-looking bit of vegetative matter.

Khajjiar Bunny Abed
10. My heart goes out to those who feel like they need to pay to have their photographs taken with a rabbit.

World's Smallest Ferris Wheel at Khajjiar
11. A cow in front of the world's smallest Ferris wheel.

Khajjiar is a very cheery, peaceful sort of place, if a little too gentle for my taste. There's a bus that heads out there from Dalhousie every morning, early, passing by the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary. In the evening, another bus will swing Khajjiar on its way to Chamba. There are guesthouses there, both privately-owned and government-run, should one feel so inclined to linger.

Oh yeah, funny aside: I was asking the manager about the room prices in one of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp. (HPTDC) hotels and he flat out told me that it's not worth staying there. Instead, he cheerfully recommended that I look into some of the non-government inns. Either he's receiving a cut of commission from the private hoteliers or he simply didn't want guests messing up one of his nice rooms and actually giving him work to do.

Never been to the real Switzerland,
k0k s3n w4i


nicoletta said...

They have that zorbing thing in New Zealand as well, along with the sheep! Good thing you put htat note out to ecologists about the lake / pond distinction, or else I might have been tempted to inflict my freshwater ecology knowledge on you =) But by the looks of that piddling body of water in the middle of the meadow, I reckon it might as well be a real doesn't look deep enough to sustain an aphotic zone.

k0k s3n w4i said...

nicoletta: i saw a travel program when i was india in which three hot paris hilton-type girls travel across new zealand doing stuff like go-kart racing and sheep-shearing. they went zorbing too. as for the "pond", it may be murky enough to sustain an aphotic zone - i didn't have a secchi disk on my person at the time to verify it, haha. and it also dried up somewhat, so i assume that it's a lot larger (and deeper) when the rain comes in july.