Every Bollywood fan would dream of a Switzerland holiday highly influenced by Yash Chopra movies. In fact a lot of credit of Switzerland tourism by Indians is given to him. There is also a statue of Yash Chopra in Interlaken and some tourist package organisers like Erwin Tours of Switzerland organise these expensive Bollywood tours as well taking you to all the shooting spots. But I decided to do the research myself and self-explore the world of the longest running movie in Bollywood was extensively shot in Switzerland.
For more than 20 years, I have dreamt of living the love story that redefined expectations of many young people across the country. Finally the day arrived where it did come true and I cherish every moment of this trip. I have watched this movie about 73 times by now and know every dialogue which I can repeat even if you wake me up from sleep. I am sure there will be many more crazy people like me and some of them have already lived this dream and written some useful blogs about it which greatly helped my research.
So it all started where the story started. We started from London Kings Cross station where Raj and Simran meet the first time on exactly the same platform but of course took a flight to Zurich ;). We were based in Lucerne and had to travel a good 4 hours on train to reach the farthest spot where DDLJ was shot and traversed our path backwards to Lucerne through the day covering all other spots. It was quite difficult to cover DDLJ in the exact sequence of the storyline because space-time discontinuity in the movie. There is a nice blog written by Gaurav that talks about this. So like any director of a movie we had to shoot our pics out of sequence and later string them together. Can you believe that bridge where SRK waits for Kajal to palat and where she actually does it is 1.5 hours away by train? In fact, what is London according to movie in a song is Interlaken. The station where Kajol and SRK sip a coffee and catch a train to meet their friends and the bridge where they meet at the end of the trip is 2 min by walk. So they had zero displacement in the entire journey :D So the advice is never go by the actual references of the locations in the movie and refer useful blogs like this one :P
So the farthest small town we got to first from Lucerne changing 3 trains was Saanen. Swiss public transportation is one of the best in the world and actually it is more enjoyable to travel in train in Switzerland. You are missing something if you stick to only road especially on the Golden pass route from Lucerne to Montreux. Luckily, DDLJ locations are spread on this route and you get to experience beautiful Swiss landscapes from panoramic view train coaches. The first spot we reached was Saanen Bahnhof by taking the first train from Lucerne to Bern, next leg from Bern to Zweisimmen and then Zweisimmen to Saanen. The SBB site and app are quite helpful to find the right trains to travel.
Saanen Bahnhof is the station where Raj and Simran sip coffee and exchange a conversation. The famous palat bridge is 2 min walk from this station and the air strip where SRK competes with a helicopter is also just next to it. You can also see the “what a beautiful church” exterior from the station. The church where the interiors of the church are shot is a different one and we could not get there. All the spots were covered within half an hour and then we boarded the train to Gstaad which was just 10 min away by train. This had the promenade where most of “Zara sa Jhoom” song was shot including Early Beck which has some amazing cookies and pastries. We also had our lunch at the Pizzeria next to it and headed to Zweisimmen where Kajol buys a cowbell at the Kiosk and misses her train. Here we did not have to leave the station at all and made our way to Interlaken.
Interlaken is a beautiful must visit place. The fountain where Raj plays a prank with Simran is on Hohewag just outside Victoria Jungfrau Hotel. The Schuh Cafe where Raj and Simran view snaps of the trip sitting with their friends is also a few yards away. We also took a horse cart ride through Interlaken and what came as surprise was the lady who took us around could sing “Ho gaya hai tujhko” so well with the right pronunciation. Interlaken is worth spending more time trying out some paragliding activities, visiting Kursaal Casino Clock, taking a cruise through Thun where some other movies were shot like Mohabbatein. There is Schadau castle along bank of Thun where song from Yes Boss was shot. We did not have enough time to cover those and headed back to Lucerne.
The next day we did a Mount Titlis trip as part of a package and realised that Switzerland is best explored on own than being part of a package. Mount Titlis reminded of Vaishnodevi trip with lot of Indian crowd who behaved as if we will all fall from the mountain if we don't push each other and make our way to the revolving car. We enjoyed the ice flyer ride and playing with snow for a while and came down to Engelberg. The best thing was Masala Chai and Samosa at the base station after a 2 hour experience at 0 degrees.
After the learning from Mt Titlis we decided to explore the villages of Switzerland on our own and go to regions least inhabited by tourists. We took a train to the Jungfrau region Grindelwald and walked our way into villages that surround that area and that was the best experience of Switzerland. Typical Swiss houses that we only see in background of Yash Chopra songs, Cows with cowbells grazing in the grasslands and stream of fresh water flowing through. Then we took a train to Bern to visit the historic shopping streets, Zytglogge clock tower, bear pit and rose garden. Some parts of “Yes Boss” got covered as a bonus. :) Thanks to the fast public transport that in a day we could cover two totally different places and get back to Lucerne on time.