|Family at Grindelwald|
Another day out was perhaps the most interesting as it was into the Alps. My brother decided to take us to Jungfrau, German for maiden, one of the main peaks in the Bernese Alps. As is well-known, Alps are one of the great mountain ranges of Europe, stretching approximately 1100 kms across seven countries – from Austria and Slovenia in the east to Switzerland, Germany and France in the west and Italy and Monaco in the South. With 65% of its area covered by the Alps, Switzerland
is one of the most Alpine
of countries. Swiss Alps are generally divided into eastern and western Alps.
The Bernese Alps, which are in the western part of Swiss Alps, have some of the
highest mountains of the country and Jungfrau, also known as “Top of Europe”,
is one of the main summits in it.
|Wetterhorn massif looms over a village in Bernese oberland|
One morning eight of us, all of the family, piled into my brother’s
two cars and hit the highway for Grindelwald in
Bernese Oberland (highlands). We travelled for around two hours passing through
some picturesque Swiss country including Interlaken and climbed on to
Grindelwald where we caught a train to go further up to Kleine Scheidegg.
That’s where we got into the Jungfraubahn which slowly ratcheted up the
mountainside for about a couple of kilometres before it entered a long tunnel. Jungfraubahn
cogwheel or rack railway which runs for nine kilometres between Kleine
Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch climbing more than 1000 metres (more than 4000ft)
within a very short distance. It is electrified and runs on a 1000mm gauge
track and runs almost entirely within a tunnel built into the Eiger and Monch
mountains after a steep climb from Kleine Scheidegg. This rail- road celebrated
its centenary in 2012.
|Tunnel view - a view from the tunnel at Esmeer station|
|Aletch glacier viewed from Jungfrau|
The train stopped inside the tunnel twice, on both occasions, to our
two stations offered views of the tall Alpine mountains through large
glassed-up widows cut into the mountain-sides. The train and the tunnel are quite
clearly prime examples of human ingenuity and unrelenting effort. The journey,
though short, was an experience that was out of this world. As the train
stopped at Jungfraujock we came out to get a stunning eye-level view of the
Alps, with the Aletsch glacier sprawled out in front in all its glory with snow-capped mountains on its flanks. It
looked like a river of snow and
was a fascinating sight.
|With wife, Bandana, at Jungfrau|
|An Alpine peak visible from Jungfrau|
In 1987 Jungfrau used to be a small place with the Ice Palace as one of its limited attractions. There were hardly any Indians barring us in the crowd. Today, according to reports, there are shops selling Rolex watches and many eateries including Indian ones serving masala chai and spicy Indian stuff with a bonus of videos of Hindi film songs shot in the icy surroundings of the summit. Indian film industry and tourists have, seemingly, changed the tourism profile of the place.