Sometimes it takes a Bollywood flick to present the beauty of an exotic destination. From Ladakh’s turquoise blue Pangong Tso lake to the famous Betaab valley in Kashmir, many destinations have been captured beautifully on the celluloid. Khajjiar, Himachal Pradesh’s picturesque hill station, has had its share of films, the most popular being the Sonakshi Sinha – Ranveer Singh starrer ‘Lootera’. By Syeda Farida
Remember the wooden house wrapped in snow and the spectacular deodar forests in Lootera? They belong to the Kalatop National Park in Khajjiar. As you drive down the rugged mountain path of the national park, a bowl-shaped meadow sprawled over acres with a tiny lake at its centre comes as a pleasant surprise. This is the centre for all activities in Khajjiar, reachable from Dalhousie via a bus ride.
Nature buffs find themselves at home here, for Khajjiar is a place to soak in the beauty of the landscape, with soft rays of the sun filtering through the needle-like leaves of the cedar trees; long and meandering paths lined by trees around the meadows beckoning you for languid strolls. Rent a pony and gallop in the woods or simply relax on a mat under a tree. There is a sense of quietude here that you will seldom find at other hill stations in Himachal Pradesh.
Khajjiar is covered in snow during winters till March. For the rest of the year, it is packed with tourists. In summer, as I sat under a tree, I caught up with a ‘bhel puri’ vendor, Prakash Singh, who sat down with his basket for a quick rest. As we got talking, the sixty-something year-old man told me about Khajjiar and the neigbouring tourists destinations, and that he had met Shah Rukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala, Akshay Khanna, and Sunny Deol while they had come here to shoot ‘Wajood’, ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Himalay Putra’ and ‘Lootera’.
Pointing to a log hut he recollects, “The film 1942: A Love Story was shot in that cottage. The song ‘Ek ladki ko dekha’ from the film was shot here too. Filmmakers come with the entire paraphernalia and police protection. Apart from film shootings, Khajjiar today is famous for zorbing or globe-riding, a game that has its roots in New Zealand. You roll down the slopes strapped inside plastic balls called zorbs. “We earlier imported the plastic balls from Bangkok. But now they are available in Delhi,” says the owner of an adventure company that organises zorbing in Khajjiar. Apart from this, you could also try basic paragliding.
For people looking for alternative medicine, there are plenty of locally found herbs that are sold In Khajjiar. Medicine men carry bags containing roots, resins, barks, and seeds explain the benefits as they sell saffron, ‘shilajit’ – a resinous substance found in Himalayas considered to be a potent anti-oxidant. Half your ailment, if any, is cured just from breathing in the pure air and the other with a trek or two around Khajjiar. ‘We need a tonic of wilderness,’ said American philosopher Henry David Thoreou. And a visit to Khajjiar surely offers you that.