Every year thousands of people from all over the world visit Switzerland and a vast majority of those tourists are people from the Indian subcontinent. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most beautiful countries of the world. But apart from that there is one very important thing that has influenced every one of us – the ones who grew up on the staple diet of Bollywood, SRK and the nostalgia of the 90’s, to visit the nation. No prizes for guessing the answer – Yashraj Films.
We have to accept it that when Sridevi romanced a ‘starting to be potbellied’ and sweater clad Rishi Kapoor, while wearing impeccable Chiffon sarees and pearls and singing – “Tere mere hoton pe meethein, meethein geet Mitwa” in Chandni in the lush green Swiss valleys – we all wanted to be there and do a role play!
And then came the game changer called “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (DDLJ) which has probably defined romance for everyone who belongs to my generation. When a young SRK flashes his dimpled smile and looks at his best onscreen partner Kajol to mouth the golden words – “Koi baat nahi Senorita, bade bade deshon mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hain“, we have no other alternative left other than going weak on our knees.
Truth be told, millions like me who had grown up watching DDLJ, wanted to be there on the very same locations, in the very same spots while holding the hands of our beloved. That is what Bollywood does to you and I am unabashedly a desi girl who loves her share of everything filmy. So when the time was ripe to plan my first Switzerland trip along with my homegrown ‘Raj’ in May 2014, the first thing that I did was to research about the places where DDLJ was shot and making ground plan about how to reach them. It was definitely my dream trip.
The first day when I landed in Zurich airport, the incredible number of Chooda sightings made it clear that innumerable number of honeymooners had come to relive the Swiss dream that I had in my mind too. This post of mine is my little effort to make life a little easier for all those honeymooners, eternal honeymooners ( like me :P), just a seeker of beauty, fans of DDLJ for whom age is just a number and everyone who is young at heart to map your own dream Bollywood love story. “Come…fall in love” should be our mantra for all seasons and all ages .
The best time to visit Switzerland is probably between May to September. The weather is the loveliest and you also get to experience the romance of the European summers. I had a long Swiss trip covering many other places and locations which should also be in your ‘must visit’ itinerary, but I managed to fit in the bits and pieces somewhere. The majority was covered during one day when we boarded the beautiful and luxurious Golden Pass train covering the scenic Golden pass route which covers most of the Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland. This is the region where Yash Chopra has shot many iconic scenes and songs of his movies.
We chose to ride the Golden Pass Classic train with vintage old world charm from Montreux while beginning our DDLJ trail. And I fell in love with the train. My tip: Romance is always vintage and this should be your chosen train for the Golden Pass route. I travelled on the Golden Pass Panoramic during my second Swiss trip and it was great too, but I liked the classic one more.
Our first destination was the picturesque village of Saanen. This is the place where many memorable portions of the film was shot. It is a very small town and all the shooting locations are located quite nearby, in fact, very close to the railway station. However, it is a lovely quaint town with practically nobody in visibility. so be prepared to find the locations on your own with the help of all the markers provided in the film itself.
Well, the railway station has a story to tell of its own. There is scene in the movie where Raj and Simran wait to catch the next train to reach Zurich after they missed their trains earlier and it was here in this beautiful train station that the scene was shot.
That place on the right hand side of the station is where Kajol sits and is busy sending post cards back home. SRK arrives and then they have a heart to heart conversation about love and life. Kajol tells him that her marriage is already fixed and both of them realise that somewhere beneath, their dreams about the unseen and unknown loves of their lives, were crossing paths.
Remember this place? This is the Saanen Airstrip located about 5 minutes away from the railway station. where SRK is shown competing against an airplane while Kajol’s character ‘Simran’ sings “Mere Khwabon mein jo aaye” in her own dream world. As I had described this picture in my Facebook album and I will put the exact words here – “SRK chasing down a airplane and creating ripples across my heart! ah! those days!”. Well! ah! yes!
The next destination was the iconic DDLJ bridge which is situated right next to the railway station. All of us have tried to do that “Paalat, Paalat, Paalat” trick once in our lives to try our luck in that eternally mysterious game called ‘love’. Well, this is where the “Paalat” scene was shot and also the moment when Raj and Simran do a tango while the end credits roll out in the film, was shot here. Luckily one sweet american tourist who was hiking out in the hills nearby stopped to click a photo of us on the bridge. My Yay! moment for the day was made.
Raj and Simran aka SRK and Kajol on the Saanen bridge during the “Paalat” scene. Notice the river behind.
….and that is us on the Saanen bridge. Not the most perfect pose, but definitely one of the most memorable :)
The next destination was the one that many DDLJ enthusiasts mark as the DDLJ church – the Saanen church. However, my research shows that the church resembles the exteriors of the one shown in the movie, but this was not the one. However, you may just try your luck.
Our next destination was Gstaad. It is another beautiful town located in the Bernese Oberland region only and probably a few train stations away from Saanen. You may take the next train on the Golden Pass route to reach Gstaad or take a bus from Saanen also. Swiss public transport system is one of the best in the world and you have to travel on it to believe their level of accuracy.
Gstaad is generally known as the favourite Ski destination of the rich and famous (the Nawaabi couple of Bollywood Saif and Kareena are a regular there), but DDLJ seems to have left a stream of crazy fans arriving here evrry now and then and do their own bit of “Zaara sa jhoom loon mein…arey nare nare na!” . Legend has it that Yash Chopra visited Gstaad for his own honeymoon and fell in love with the beauty of the region.
The first DDLJ memorabilia associated with Gstaad is the Early Beck shop. Remember that confectionery shop in the song “Zara sa jhoom loon mein” where Kajol wreaks havoc?
….and we could not stop admiring the sense of beauty that Swiss people seem to born with. clicked on the same Gstaad promenade. It is again a small sleepy town and you can just cover the length and breadth of it within an hour.
Okay! if you are vigilant and a die hard DDLJ fan like me, it is unlikely that you might have missed this. This is a famous hotel in Gstaad which appears in the background when Kajol boards a train engine in an inebriated state with SRK chasing her.
Can you spot it here?
While we are on the “Zara sa jhoom loon mein” mode, I will talk about another destination which was featured in the song – the Jungfrau mountain range. We separately visited Jungfrau from Interlaken and it takes a whole day to complete the trip till the top of the mountain and back. The Jungfrau railways is a sheer feat of engineering. The snow clad serenity is featured in the same song when Simran in red dress serenades her way to our heart.
Going back to the Golden Pass route, our next stop was Zweisimmen. You can either take a bus from Gstaad to reach Zweisimmen or just take the next train from the Gstaad station to reach Zweisimmen. This is also the place where the Montreux- Zweisimmen portion of the Golden Pass route ends. As you may wait to catch the next train on the Golden Pass route connecting Interlaken, you may also visit some memorable places in and around the station where some memorable portions of DDLJ was shot.
Zweisimmen is the train station where Kajol aka Simran misses her train to Zurich and there begins her whirlwind journey which ultimately leads her to find true love. Just like Raj, we also hope that she misses the train, every single time the scene is played out in the movie.
Remember this Kiosk where Raj and Simran fight with each other while she runs against time to buy the most famous Swiss souvenir worldwide – ‘the cow bell’? Well, the kiosk is still there…there is in fact only one right near the station and it is not difficult to spot. Zweisimmen is again a quiet picturesque town and it is not very difficult to spot out the DDLJ memories left here, there and everywhere. Probably a huge number of Indian tourists flock the shop every year and that is why the shop owners seem to be aware of the popularity of the movie.
The cowbell also has an intricate connection to the plot as this was the same cowbell that Kajol leaves on her doorstep while leaving for India and a sure shot sign for SRK who travels all the way to India. The desi cow who wears the bell paves the path for the chart buster “Tujhe Dekha to yeh jaana sanaam” to start playing on our screens every now and then :)
And this is me again. The happiness on my face is due to the miniature cowbell souvenir that I bought from the same shop where Simran buys the bell from, in the movie.
And if the fight with cowbell was here, can the missing of trains be far behind?
My research showed the the place where Simran runs behind the train she is supposedly missing was the parking lot just opposite the platform number 8 of the Zweisimmen railway station.
The booking counter where Kajol goes to inquire about the next train to Zurich is locate right behind the Parking lot. Unfortunately, I forgot to click a picture of that.
The next DDLJ location that I spotted in Switzerland was in Interlaken. While you reach Interlaken from Zweisimmen completing another part of the Golden Pass route, you are bound to admire this lovely little town surrounded by lakes.
Remember this scene where it is shown right after the song “Ruk jaa o dil deewane” that SRK tricks Kajol while convincing her that he is in a mood to apologise for his antics? The scenes was shot on the Interlaken promenade and you can catch a glimpse of the famous Victoria Jungfrau Hotel right before this scene in the move.
This is the fountain in the background where the scene was shot.
If you are a Yashraj fan, it will be hard for you to miss this plaque on the Interlaken promenade while you take a stroll across this lovely town –
For a girl who has grown up on a fair share of Bollywood, this was indeed a proud moment.
While doing the Interlaken to Lucerne part of the Golden Pass route, you may also spot the Lake Lungerer See, where a few scenes from the song “Tujhe Dekha Toh yeh Jaana sanam” was shot.
Another possible DDLJ connection that I found on my second trip Switzerland was when I visited Mount Titlis. Now my research shows that the scenese of snow capped mountains as shown in the movie were all shot at the Jungfrau mountain range and not on Mount Titlis. However, may be due to the large numbe rof Indian tourists visiting Mount Titlis every year, you will not only find the regular “Chaai Samosa” stall at the foot of the mountain in Engelberg, instructions written in Hindi, but also this –
There comes the end of my DDLJ story. But I will end with a disclaimer…Switzerland is much more than just DDLJ. And those picturesque locales shown in the movie lie- here, there and everywhere in that beautiful country. So do not try in vain if you cannot find one location. Live the experience…go trekking till Murren, do a small hike on your way back from Jungfrau, experience the sheer delight of the Trummelbach Falls, watch the quaint Swiss chalets pass by while you make your way till Grindelwald, see men playing chess in the front square right outside the Parliament building in Bern, visit many of its museums, visit Chur and sit on the Glacier Express route, watch the snow clad mountains pass by your window while you make way through Oberalppass, get in your own world while admiring the beauty of the Lauterbrunnen valley, sit back in a cafe in Lucerne and enjoy the street musicians play the ballad of life….have your own fairy tale by the end of the trip :)