When the first of the mountaineers passed through Jiri on their way to
Everest, they must have acknowledged the landscape of Jiri. The alpine forest
and chilled out climate must have reminded them of the Alps. With time, the
Swiss became heavily involved in the transformation of this sleepy village
into a bustling town. The road to Jiri, the famous Cheese Factory, the
hospital and many other development activities happened under the Swiss
assistance. This relationship between Jiri and Switzerland which goes back to
the 1930s has led to Jiri being called "The Switzerland of Nepal"
Thanks to the road built by the Swiss, Jiri was the only Gateway to Everest
base camp route for many years. However, the construction of the Lukla,
Syangboche and Phaplu Airports took away a huge number of trekkers. Also,
during the Maoist insurgency, Jiri lost its popularity as trekkers were forced
by the insurgents to pay NPR 5,000 as permit fee.
Once the busiest market of Eastern Himalayan region, Jiri now stands as a
regular town with few memories and fewer dreams. The Jirels remember the town
in its brightest days when the town held the Big Farmer's market every
Saturday, the biggest trade market in the Everest Region. Now the roads
crawling through every small village seems to have taken the crown off Jiri's
However, the town of Jirels still stands proud and popular among internal
tourists. Every year thousands of internal tourists and trekkers fill Jiri
with their clatter of joy.
Today, when Nepali tourists exclaim upon arriving at Jiri, "Is Switzerland
really like Jiri?" locals reply that the houses constructed by the Swiss
development mission and the weather does indeed provide a little piece of
Switzerland in Nepal.