• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
  • default color
  • blue color
  • green color
Home Articles Snapshots from Switzerland
Snapshots from Switzerland

Snapshots from Switzerland


By Sajid Qazi

Switzerland is famousfor its Alps and an endless stream of rolling green hills

SWITZERLAND is many things to many people. For those with an eye for watches, the country is a dream destination. For those who have a liking for outdoor and camping, the Swiss knife is an indispensable item in their kit. And for a landscape photographer like me, Switzerland is a place where breathtaking natural beauty in the form of Alps, is.

For majority of the tourists, who intend to sample the Alps’ experience, they should go to Bernese Oberland or the regions surrounding the Matterhorn in Wallis. But for a landscapist vying for some waterscapes and natural pictorials, Graubunden can be a refreshing and challenging surprise.

Graubunden is a large canton, situated in the south-eastern part of Switzerland, adjoining Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. Graubunden will generally not be the first choice for the large number of tourists visiting Switzerland from all parts of the world. However, the rough nature in this sparsely populated canton will please many lovers of hiking, photography and outdoor life. This canton is also very interesting from a language and cultures point of view. German, Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic are spoken here.

Graubunden offers a lot of hiking and hill-walking possibilities. Several gondolas take you to magnificent viewing points, sometimes covered with snow even in summer! The number of large cities is rather limited. More extended possibilities to shop or go out can be found in, among others, Chur and St. Moritz. Graubunden offers you nature in the first place, and a lot of it.

The river Rhine finds its origin in the very west of Graubunden. The river runs through a beautiful valley to the east and reaches the most diversely populated and industrial region near the canton’s capital, Chur. It is an ideal base to explore the surrounding valleys. The center of Chur consists of two parts. The newer part is near the train station, where you will also come across the larger departmental stores. The historical part of the city, with its nice little squares, narrow streets and smaller shops is situated a bit further downtown.

A purely chance meeting with two Pakistani men, in Chur, provided an opportunity to see how human beings react to a situation in widely different ways. The first I met in Chur was running his small ‘take-away’. He told me that he had tried for Swiss nationality by marrying a local lady. However, the marriage fell through and now he was on notice to leave. But he was all smiles and carefree. He welcomed all visitors and clients to his eatery with open arms. A born optimist with a big chuckle, I hope he’s still enjoying his life, irrespective of unending legal challenges.

The second Pakistani gentleman was a Swiss national with an established business, but not content with his fate. He was thinking of either relocating to The Netherlands or starting afresh in Geneva, not to mention his desire to leave everything and go back to Lahore. His confusion bordered on pessimistic interpretation of colour of his skin and perceived discrimination as a member of a minority.

The highlight of any Swiss trip is a ride along many of the scenic train routes. The first one we tried was Chur-St. Mortiz route. This was an adventurous two-hour ride, crossing innumerable bridges and tunnels. It was the ride of a lifetime in the comfort of a modern panoramic carriage, seeing vintage Switzerland up close and personal: dense forests, peaks capped with eternal snow, rushing mountain streams and centuries-old villages were just some of the sights one could enjoy.

At St. Moritz, one can either while away the time around the lake, or window-shop, or preferably take a funicular to Chantorella, right above the city. You have to change the train here to get to Corviglia to move to the top of Piz Nair (3,056m). There is a grand view of St. Mortiz and the lakes in the valley. The whole atmosphere here is soaked with alpine grandeur and sublimity.

The train to Arosa is yet another fascinating experience in the alpine travel. At Arosa, the hiking and hill walking possibilities are limitless. Weisshorn is another attraction at Arosa. It is certainly not the highest viewing point of the country, but its situation is unique. One can see a great number of mountains as well as the city of Chur, far away in the valley. For landscape photography, the best kept secret of Arosa is the multitude of waterfalls doting the nice little stream in the nearby hills. The crystal clear water of the stream meanders across the lush green landscape inviting the roving eyes to follow suit. This cute little valley resembles starkly with valleys of Kalam, Mataltan and Mahodand in terms of foliage and rushing streams. The only difference is man-made.

We have left no stone unturned to destroy (read commercialize) the natural environs. The Swiss (and other Western nations) have consciously striven not to touch a single stone, lest it may cause environmental damage.