Of mythical mountains and charming meadows

DREAMLIKE

 High point: The Cogwheel on Mt Pilatus.  Photo by authorBut the congenial gentleman across the counter at Lucerne assured me it was possible, provided I follow his meticulous itinerary. And soon I was on a train heading southwards to Titlis, 30 minutes away.

Lucerne is a charming town with a pleasant lake and grassy meadows. In fact, every town in Switzerland has its own share of alpine mountains, lakes and a green countryside. As the train chugged up to Engelberg, tucked into the mountain at 1,000 metres, the climb had virtually begun. The even more thrilling cable car journey takes off here and ascends to the top at 3,020 metres, over three steep stretches through the stations of Trubsee and Stand.

As the ropeway glided higher, the impressive vistas of green mountains, bedecked with a blue lake, ribbons of roads and toylike cottages, unfolded. The best part of the ascent was undoubtedly the last stretch in a Rotair, the revolving gondola. The unique feature of this cable car is that it rotates a full circle by the time it reaches the station so that everyone on board gets a 360 degree view of the mountains. The Rotair is the first ever rotating cable car in the world, I learnt.

If reaching the summit of Titlis itself was so enthralling, what remained was a host of adventure activities like taking a guided walk on the glacier, abseiling down an icy ridge or skiing along the snow slopes. With a busy itinerary to stick to, I opted for quicker activities like the Iceflyer Chairlift, which is an open ride over the endless glacier with gaping crevasses exciting enough to pump adrenaline.

A walk through Glacier Grotto, an ice cave drilled 180 metres into the glacier, was indeed a memorable experience. But the most popular place on Titlis is the Glacier Park which offers a variety of adventure activities like snow sledging, snow tube rides and glissading.

It was noon already and I had to reach Pilatus. As the train headed to Alpnachstad, situated at the foothills of Mt Pilatus, I flipped through the tourist brochure only to glean that Pilatus, also called the Dragon Mountain, is steeped in legends and myths. What was more interesting to know is that the mountain railway, better known as the Cogwheel, is said to be the highest railway track in the world.

Even as I looked around on my way up, what puzzled me was the ubiquitous symbols of the dragon and the mysteries shrouding the mountain. According to one legend, people were forbidden to climb the mountain as it was believed that the ghost of a Roman governor, Pontius Pilate (after whom the hill is named), rested in the lake here and if he was disturbed, there would be gales and thunderstorms. 

According to another story, fire-spewing flying dragons haunted the crevices in the rocks. When a farmer wandering around the hill fell into one, the dragons protected him throughout winter and extricated him thereafter. Whatever the legends, they have survived in spite of the lack of scientific authenticity, much like Yeti, the abominable snowman of the Himalayas.

I woke up as the train jerked to a halt and took a quick stroll to the High Point. The view was amazing — six large lakes deep below guarded by a chain of mountains. But, it did not last long as scudding clouds engulfed the whole valley. On my way back, I pondered over the experience — a fun filled adventure on Titlis and my journey to the mythical mountain of Pilatus.

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