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Harshil (also known as Mini Switzerland of India) is a village in a valley situated in on the bank of Bhagirathi River, at the confluence of the Jalandhari Gadh and the Bhagirathi, in the shadow of the mountain that lies at the head of the Baspa Valley (Uttarakhand). Harshil is connected to the Baspa valley by several passes including the Lamkhaga Pass. Apart from Matri and Kailash mountains, on the right side there is the Shrikanth peak, behind which lies Kedarnath, and in the rear there is Banderpunch. This hamlet is known for its natural beauty and delicious apples. The winding roads, tall conifers, mountains, the turbulent Bhagirathi, apple orchards, streams, waterfalls and green meadows are all typical of Harshil.
Harshil lies on the old caravan trail between Tibet and India, when trade and marriages flourished between the two countries. Harshil has a sizable Bhotia population, many of whom use Harshil as their winter base.
The people live in very tough climatic conditions. The fact that Raj Kapoor’s Hindi film, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, was shot here is a source of great pride for them – celebrated through numerous posters of the nubile heroine displayed in various shops. The army has a strong presence in this town – and an army camp is based here perhaps because Harshil lies quite close to the Chinese border.
It is said that Harshil got its name because the rivers Bhagirathi and the Jalandhari once had an argument about which was more important. Lord Vishnu, also known as Hari, was asked to intervene. He turned himself into a great stone, a shila, and absorbed their anger. Even today, after Hari-shila (or Harshil), the waters of the two rivers become a little less turbulent.
Harshil is well connected by road and there are several camping facilities in and around the place. Harshil is on the route to Gangotri,a very popular Hindu temple and is well connected by road. Harshil lies 95 Kilometres from the district headquarters, Uttarkashi.
Harshil’s history is inextricably linked with that of a Britisher, Fredrick Wilson, who settled here in the early 19th century and introduced the residents to potato and apple-growing. Even today Harshil’s apples are well known throughout the region.