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A Switzerland outside Yash Chopra frames.

Swiss tour operators list places that Indian newlyweds give amiss

YASH Chopra, that unofficial ambassador of Switzerland, as ubiquitous as the cuckoo clock and the Swiss army knife is offering tourists an " enchanted journey" through one of the happiest countries in the world ( all that Swiss chocolate helps of course). Included in the itinerary are the places where Shah Rukh and Kajol share romantic interludes in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge . Through the nineties and early noughties, it was nearly impossible to walk through Interlaken and Lucerne without rubbing shoulders with starry- eyed Indian honeymooners. Over the last few years though, it became a little less fashionable to go to Switzerland. Austria, Turkey and Spain benefited.

But away from Jungfrau and Titlis, it is entirely possible to go to Switzerland and not run into hordes of Indian tourists.

Hiking through the Alpine trail, attending the jazz festival at Montreux, seeing flower- decked cows pass by in the traditional procession at Appenzell, we help you fix a DIY guide to offbeat Switzerland.

Montreux- Vevey

Vevey and Montreux are unique twin cities that fall in the French part of Switzerland, so the language, people and the cuisine are tres French.

Deep Purple wrote their song Smoke on the Water for the city of Montreux; it's also the city where Led Zeppelin and Queen often recorded their music.

It's no wonder that Montreux is host to one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, held in the open- air in the summer. The other big attraction is the Chateau de Chillon, a castle located on the shore of Lake Geneva and a favourite with Lord Byron.

Vevey, where milk chocolate was invented, is the headquarters of Nestle and is famous for its covered folk market, where one can sample Swiss wine while listening to folk music. Also at Vevey is Corseaux the villa of the city planner of Chandigarh, Le Corbusier.

Recommendation: Ritu Sharma, Country Head, Switzerland Tourism: " The most beautiful lake promenade in the country is here."

Locarno

It is only in Switzerland that one can get a taste of French and Italian culture all at the same time. Once a year it makes the headlines for its film festival, as big as Cannes, but a lot less flashy. With its Mediterranean climate, piazzas, vineyards and arcades, Locarno could almost be in Italy, but the pristine lake and the mountains are uniquely Swiss.

The church of Madonna del Sasso has the prettiest backdrop with its view of the Alps.

Speed off to one of the many small vineyards around Locarno for a day.

A meal at a local grotto with home made pasta, cheese and sausage are also a must- do.

Recommendation: Mirjam Jost, Manager, Market Services, Switzerland Tourism: " Locarno is what you would get if you were to marry Italy with Switzerland."

Appenzell

Located in the East, the long- standing joke is that you can set your watch ten years back when stepping into Appenzell.

Appenzellers are also rather proud of their cows and every year they host a cow procession with decked- up cows walking the streets. With such pampered cows, Appenzell cheese is some of the finest.

Head off to the 400- year- old Wildkirchli cave chapel. The Ebenalp peak is a huge draw with paragliding enthusiasts.

While all around the area on a 200 km radius, the landscape is ideal for cross- country ski trails. Don't miss nude hiking, with hikers clad in little more than ski boots and sunscreen.

Recommendation: Mirjam Jost says: " This is the most rural and traditional part of Switzerland and a must- see for tourists looking for some quiet beauty."

Leukerbad

This resort town is for people looking for sports and wellness activities. It can be quite an experience sitting in a naturally heated pool in the winter surrounded by snowy mountains. Also popular are the alpine hay baths and vinotherapy which includes a grape scrub and a bath infused with red wine.

Leukerbad also offers about 50 km of ski pistes, 25 km of cross- country ski trails. The Gemmi Pass gives access to what is probably the longest and most challenging climbing path in Switzerland, with long, vertical ladders on the Dabenhorn, almost 3000 metres high.

Recommendation: Yogesh Shah, CEO, The Backpacker Company: " We are now more adventurous and there is great skiing available in the Valais region."

Schaffhausen

The Rhine Falls, the largest waterfalls in Europe are located here. The old part of the town is car- free and a walk through the old town leads past the city's celebrated oriel windows, which in summer run riot with flowers.

The 16th century Munot fortress still houses the Munot guard who rings the bell at 9 pm everyday, as a sign that the town gates, inns and shops should close. There is also the Knight's House with 400- year- old murals depicting classical and mythological scenes from the late Renaissance.

Recommendation: Ritu Sharma: " The Rhine Falls are awe- inspiring. The oriel windows are unlike anything else."

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jan 24, 2010
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