Considered to be one of the most picturesque spots on Earth, Khajjiar is often likened to the landscapes of Switzerland. This status was officially given to this exquisite glade by the Swiss authorities and it is one of the 160 places in the world that bear a topographical resemblance to Switzerland. A plaque marks Khajjiar’s distance from Berne, Switzerland as 6194 kms.
A series of streams feed a large pool in the centre of the glade which has a circumference of approximately 5 kms. On the fringes rise the thick cedar forests of the Kalatop Sanctuary. The snow line frames this picture of pastoral beauty – which is enhanced by flocks of grazing sheep and goats. The legend of Khajjiar has it that a great sage once lived at this beautiful spot. One day, a powerful serpent arrived there, liked the place and wished to make it his own. The sage tried to prevent this and a fierce struggle ensued. Finally the sage lost the battle and had to give up the place to the serpent. While conceding defeat, the sage declared, “Now you eat and you live” – ‘Kha aur ji’. And that is how Khajjiar is said to have got its name. The serpent is worshipped as ‘Khajji Nag’ and there is an attractive temple that enshrines an image at Khajjiar.
Height: 1951 m
Climate: The glade has an alpine climate. Cotton clothing for summers and heavy woollens for winters are needed.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Khajjiar
Road: Khajjiar is 508 kms from Delhi, 358 kms from Shimla, 383 kms from Manali, 113 kms from Pathankot, 150 kms from Dharamshala via Chakki, 26 kms from Chamba and 23 kms from Dalhousie.
Rail: Nearest station is at Pathankot which is 113 kms away.
Air: The nearest airport is at Gaggal, 137 kms away.
Tourist Attractions in Khajjiar
Khajjiar Glade: This is the primary attraction and the little lake in the middle, when full, offers boating too. Horse-rides, zorbing, golf and walks through the forest are among the other activities of offer.
Khajji Nag Temple: Local belied has it that the temple was first built in the twelfth century, though many believe this to be older. This is dedicated to Khajji Nag – the mythical Serpent. The serpent is worshipped in human form and there is a beautifully carved stone image of ‘Nag Devta’ – holding a mace in one hand and a ‘khanda’ (dagger) in the other. Images of Lord Shiva and Devi Hadimba are also enshrined within this. The temple has a sanctum with an intricately carved ceiling while the verandah before the sanctum has life size carvings in wood of the Pandava brothers who are said to have visited this spot during their exile.
Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary: This surrounds Khajjiar and rises from the glade to a point above the town of Dalhousie and in the other direction, goes down towards the valley of the River Ravi. The sanctuary covers an area of around 2000 hectares (over 20 sq. kms) and within its confines, lie a dozen of little villages. Altitudes within the sanctuary vary between 1200 m and 2800 m. This is home to several birds and animals like the serow, goral, yellow throated marten, leopard, black bear, barking deer, flying squirrels, monal, moklas and chukor.