Established in 1953, Chandigarh is a unique city. At first glance, it may not strike you as being an Indian city. The fact is – it’s too clean! India’s first planned city is definitely a stop on any architect’s pilgrimage and it’s known internationally for its urban planning. A Union Territory, the Capital of two states – Punjab and Haryana – these are facts that add to the City Beautiful’s uniqueness. But read on, because there is a lot more to it.
Chandigarh presents you with an amalgam of modernity in the form of development, and sustainability which can be seen in the way nature has been preserved. It is a rich, pampered city with an unparalleled quality of life.
Chandigarh’s social message is one of peace and unity – “open to give and open to receive”. Something that can be felt in the overwhelming Punjabi hospitality and is symbolically represented in the Open Hand – one of the city’s most important monuments, and also its official emblem. Located in Sector 1, it is close to the Capitol Complex.
The Capitol Complex comprises the Secretariat, the High Court and the Legislative Assembly. These are architectural marvels, the credit for which goes to Le Corbusier – the main architect of the city.
The Rock Garden is one tourist spot that makes a visit to Chandigarh truly worth it. Created by Nek Chand, this garden is in a class apart. It is a sculpture garden, created entirely out of industrial and home waste! Do not let that description put you off. The Rock Garden is a wonder that one is hard put to put in words and is therefore, definitely worth a visit!
The beauty of Sukhna lake
Anyone who has lived or visited Chandigarh has fallen in love with the Sukhna. The Sukhna lake is a man-made lake, about three kilometers long. The mountains provide a pleasant background – complementing the picture. Besides losing yourself in the beauty that surrounds you, the Sukhna provides for other fun activities. It is an excellent place to go boating, yachting or water skiing. It is also a site for families out on a picnic, perfect for a morning jog or an evening stroll. So, if you are looking to unwind, an evening at Sukhna, – the cool breeze, munching on some peanuts and amongst people from all walks of life – is what you’re looking for.
A city of gardens
Often referred to as the City of Gardens, there are enough and more gardens and parks to substantiate the claim. The Rose Garden, the Terraced Garden, Shanti Kunj, the Botanical Gardens are some of them. The Leisure Valley that runs through most of the city encompasses most of the gardens – a green belt of sorts. If you happen to visit during February, be sure to catch the annual Rose Festival at the Rose Garden. The festival is usually held over a weekend and you can literally see the whole city at the Rose Garden! It usually includes exhibitions, competitions, performances and of course – great food stalls! The Dr. Zakir Hussain Rose Garden also happens to be the largest in Asia.
Similarly, the Terraced Garden hosts the Chrysanthemum Show every year. The beautiful Bougainvillea garden houses Chandigarh’s War Memorial – a fitting tribute to those who laid down their lives for the country.
Shopping and night life
The City Center at Sector 17 is the most popular shopping arcade in the city. The shops here can pretty much fulfill all your shopping desires! Evenings and nights spent here provide you with a true sense of Chandigarh’s local character. Look around you and you’ll find the heart of Chandigarh. Apart from Sector 17, each sector in Chandigarh has a market to itself – they may however be specific to purchases, like furniture, for instance..
Chandigarh conveys an air of prosperity. The locals are trendy and fashionable and maybe nurse a penchant for the ostentatious! Luxury cars and brands are a way of life for many. Being a relatively small city, in Chandigarh it is said everyone knows everyone else!
The young crowd enjoy a thriving night life. During the day however, the Gehri Route is where you can find them! Gehri is part of the local lingo and is therefore a complex term to elaborate. But it comes down to … a way of “hanging out”, if you may. Technically, it’s nothing but a walk or bike ride or maybe even a car drive along the more popular areas to hang out in, the Sector 11 Market for instance. But then again, its one of those things – you need to be there to experience it.
There are plenty of restaurants in Chandigarh, catering to a wide range of taste buds! Some of them are located in the City Center at Sector 17, others at Sectors 26 and 35. The following would be my recommendations: Swagath Restaurant for north Indian cuisine, Sundarams for south Indian, The Backpackers for continental food and Yangste at the Shivalik View Hotel for Chinese.
Getting to Chandigarh
Chandigarh is well connected by air, road and rail with New Delhi – making it easily accessible. Although personally, I would love to hit the highway and enjoy some delicious food and take in the dhabha experience! The climate here ranges between the extremes – sweltering summers and very cold winters. So, the best time to make a trip would be between August and November – you could catch the Chandigarh Carnival in November!
Why should you make a trip to Chandigarh? Because it’s nothing like any other city in India. Because it shows you that nature and development can peacefully coexist. It is a perfect destination not only for the tired and the retired but for everyone who would like to travel.