Leisure

Exploring Chandigarh in a day !

Punjab News Express | August 20, 2019 01:50 PM

When I was on my way to Manali from Delhi for the first time, I had to pass through Chandigarh. The city was also a place I never been, so I decided to stay over for a day and explore it. I had always heard of how well-planned this joint capital city is, but I would have never imagined that it would be the way tabloids describe them. I had booked a direct cab from Delhi airport to Chandigarh and decided to keep the car on me for the entire day. It was during the late winters and the weather was perfect to roam around a beautiful city like this.

An overview of Chandigarh

Although smaller than most cities that I have been to, Chandigarh is unique and like a picture postcard. The clean, tree-lined streets, neatly designed buildings, and simplicity within its vibrant lifestyle, truly make it ‘The City Beautiful’, or as BBC describes it. Once a small settlement, the Union Territory has come a long way, under the creative guardianship of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, who designed the modern version of Chandigarh. Except for the outer suburbs, none of the buildings towered over others around the main city, keeping the horizon clear and let the environment breathe. It was comforting to see such levels of awareness, perhaps more than most metros we see. As my car cruised along the smooth city streets, with perfectly regulated traffic, it did feel like the ‘It City’ of modern India.

The best of Chandigarh in a day

I passed the Open Hand Monument, also designed by Corbusier, which has become a representative icon of Chandigarh. Close to it was the Capitol Complex, a name which you wouldn’t even hear in Indian cities. But it was not just the name that sounded international, the building was also designed to represent government offices across Europe. With its exceptional design and construction aesthetics, the public administration hub also serves as a point of interest for tourists.

The city even has its version of a miniature Eiffel Tower! Replicated to the tee, the towering monument is one of its kind in India. It stands tall in the middle of a beautiful public park surrounded by fountains. I took a walk around the park, watching people enjoying the morning sun, walking their dogs, indulging in their fitness routines. I couldn’t help but indulge in a few social media-worthy photos and brag on my Instagram, albeit praising the aesthetic sense of the city administration.

I had read about a series of gardens that the city of Chandigarh boasts. And now since I was here, I had to see them. There are about 20 artistically designed, landscaped gardens spread around the city, which not only beautifies the city but also keeps its air clean. Of course, I had limited to cover all of them, so I chose the best few. My first stop was the famous Rock Garden, a public garden with a large number of sculptures, murals, and art installations made of stones and rocks. From there, I headed straight to the Sukhna Lake. The artificial lake is the largest water body and source of water for the city, as well as a popular local hangout. The spring sun was mild and people were still enjoying the outdoors, taking a boat ride or lounging on the lakeside. There was the Garden of Silence right next to it. It was indeed the most silent zone of the city. Laid out in a Zen fashion, the garden had a huge statue of Buddha sitting right in the center. It felt so peaceful that I could sit and meditate for hours.

Later in the evening, I decided to walk around and explore the local markets and feel the vibes. So I left my cab and started walking across Sectors 17 to 22. I passed the musical fountain in Sector 17, which had just lit up after sunset. The other sectors were bustling with street-side markets and local vendors. Despite an array of swanky malls and boutique stores, the weekend bazaars portrayed the real pulse of the city.

The city of Chandigarh is holistic with every possible means of leisure, entertainment, amenities, and natural surroundings. And I was glad to have stopped by, even if it was for a day.

We always see perfectly planned, charming cities like these across the world, and we imagine if our cities could be like that. To that I have to say, Chandigarh is a benchmark of what civic planning and environment-consciousness should be. The city made me feel right at home, a place I would love to go back to, and maybe someday, even settle down here.

My travel tips:

If you are traveling exclusively to Chandigarh, visit only during spring or before winter, for the optimal weather.

Always get a car on rent in Chandigarh with an experienced driver for your sightseeing tours and day trips to nearby locales.

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