Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chandigarh: A Paragon City

One fine evening when I returned home after a strenuous day's work, I was greeted pleasantly by my better half. I was too tired to stir my brain to decipher this gesture of hers. It’s not that she does not greet pleasantly, but that day it was more evident. It did not take me much time to finally know what was coming my way. At dinner, my wife initiated a thread about vacationing in the near future; it was almost the fag end of November and a good time to go on a vacation with holidays approaching. Now I was too soft in saying she initiated a thread, rather it was an ultimatum to me. Now which husband on earth as the temerity to resist, leave aside reject such an order? I budged and without any procrastination started discussing the possible places to visit. We debated on places, budget, duration, climate, etc. and finally, after a healthy debate (?????) we zeroed on North India. You see I have always been fascinated about visiting Northern India, I don’t know why? May be because of the many tourist places, scenic hill stations, snow laden Valleys Mountains and many other reasons. To my joy we decided to visit this city and make our base while we travel to other regions. I have heard about this city all my life for its impeccable planning, amazing infrastructure and overall good quality of life. I am talking about the city CHANDIGARH.

I do remember when we drove into the city via New Delhi, a huge board welcomed us to the beautiful city of Chandigarh. Like an excited kid, I kept gazing out of the car window to have a dekho at the surroundings, and I was happy for what I was seeing. I had my fingers crossed and hoped its not a marketing gimmick and I could get to experience the same pleasantness in other parts of Chandigarh. To my surprise Chandigarh did not disappoint me a bit. While I drove to my hotel I could see wide clean roads with trees swaying in the cool breeze on both the sides. The divider in the middle of the road was adorned with beautiful plants, shrubs bearing lovely colorful flowers. Small promenades adjacent to the roads, walking hand in hand. Big wide roundabouts at the road junctions  were decorated with precisely cut trees, plants, shrubs booming with the fauna. All this while there were no traffic snarls, blaring horns or a competition of vehicles to win a race. This entire setup stole the show for me. I have always heard / observed one or other sobriquet attached to the city of Chandigarh, be it the first / most planned city in India, the cleanest city in India or the city with the highest per capita income in the country, to others like the ultra modern city or the fashion city (there might be others in India, but I felt Chandigarh tops the list).

The name “Le Corbusier” is synonymous with this city. He is considered to be the architect, with many of his layouts and buildings adorning the city. For his excellent work I would like to say “Monsieur Corbusier, Merci beaucoup pour votre aide et votre bonté”. And of course the concerned authorities who have maintained the city superbly even today. What was striking in this city is I did not see any unauthorized or for that matter any forms of flex, boards, hoardings dirtying the skyline which is ubiquitous in other cities or congregation of ricksha-wallas, taxi-wallahs on the road side creating obstruction to the smooth traffic, nor did I see any blatant jumping of signals or disregard for traffic rules. No potholes riddled roads or litter was to be seen.  Everything was perfect the way it should be. Every sector of Chandigarh has been designed to see it makes life easier for its residents and this was something which I really appreciated. Even the tourist spots in the city are kept spic and span and everyone can enjoy it with least hassles. The SUKHANA Lake was a delight to visit and enjoy the boat ride. Its well maintained and it surprises you.
Sukhana Lake's Night View
Sukhana Lake @ Night
Sukhana Lake - Ducks at home
Sukhana's Ducks

Taken for a ride @ Sukhana
Kiddo enjoying the boat ride @ Sukhana
Suhana Sukhana
Sukhana Lake
The other attraction that impressed me was the sprawling estate of the ROCK GARDEN. I think the creativity displayed there is something amazing. I have not seen discarded material being used that creatively in my life and is definitely worth lauding. Now what is noticeable here is, the way this entire structure has been maintained and kept easily accessible to the hordes of people who visit this place daily. I guess this neat planning and an effort to preserve things is ingrained in people of Chandigarh.

Creativity using waste
Creativity at its best

Rock Barden - An epitome of creativity
Rock Garden in different views

Rock Garden - Artistic Excellence
Discarded material used to create this class act

Rock Garden - It Rocks
Rock Garden in different shades
You ought to visit these two places to get a feel of Chandigarh, and one of them is beautiful “ROSE GARDEN”. This wide spread of beauty is something which will take your breath away and wanting to experience more. Here you would get to see a variety of roses in full bloom in different shapes, sizes and colors. It simply changes the look of the earth from gray / black to other rainbow colors and is a must see. Besides the roses you would get to see different species of trees adding to the appeal. The cool Chandigarh weather always augments the experience I think.

Rose Garden - Life is indeed a bed of roses
Roses in full bloom

Fountains in rose garden
Fountains galore

Beautiful settings at Rose Garden
Panoramic View of rose garden
Verdant at Rose Garden
Look no where
The other attraction of the city is the CACTUS GARDEN. Here you would get to see different species of cacti you would have not known or even imagined. It boasts of having around more than 1000 different species of cacti. No surprises the garden is superbly maintained and a delight to visit. I would say every part of the city is a tourist spot with everything decorated, maintained to please the eye and very user friendly.
Prickly, but pleasing to the eye
Cactus everywhere
Cactus Umbrella
Sight to behold
Cactus Galore

Fashion is something which you can’t separate from Chandigarh. I think it's one of the most fashion conscious city in India. You would see the residents wearing the latest designer labels and driving their swanky mean machines. The "Soni Punjabi kudiyan" in their latest ensemble can scorch the chilly weather and make you go weak in your knees. Even a hardcore misogynist would go soft looking at these shimmering beauties. I had my share of visual delight. I would go ahead and add one more tag of “Fashion capital of India” for Chandigarh.

How can one miss the lip smacking and mouth watering Punjabi food and that too an authentic one. I would confess I committed gluttony at every meal that I had in this city. I gorged on everything that came my way without getting health conscious and I gave away to the temptations. All in all a wonderful time I spent in this beautiful city with a promise to return someday.

I always think even if 20% of what I saw in Chandigarh is replicated in other cities it will be a worthwhile effort. Our politicians who under the garb of study tours, go on vacations on tax payers money, need not go abroad and instead visit Chandigarh to see how well the city is planned and maintained.

You know kids at times can really ask tough questions. My kid is no different, while we were leaving Chandigarh for our hometown, he asked me “Baba can we shift to Chandigarh?” I was taken aback, and with a lump in my throat said Yes. That moment I knew this city has cast his spell on my kiddo like it did on me and my wife. With heavy heart we left the city of Chandigarh.

Oye Balle Balle, Chandigarh tussi kisi ki nazar na lage.


  1. Known worldwide for its elaborate buildings and arterial roadways, this calm, quiet city on the foothills of Shiwalik boasts of a plethora of incredibly landscaped gardens and parks. Of particular interest is Rock Garden, a fantasyland created out of industrial waste and rocks. Check out Cactus Garden Chandigarh, Aisa's largest cacti collection.

    1. Hi Dimpy, Thanks for visiting my blog and being kind enough to leave a comment. I absolutely agree with you. Chandigarh is one of the most beautiful cities in India and I was bowled over by this city. Why can't our other cities modeled on the lines of this amazing city. I visited the rock garden, cacti garden n they were outstanding to say the least. Would love to visit this city again.


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