Tis the holiday season and every second friend / neighbour / colleague with expendible leaves is taking off for a vacation. However, if you are not in a position to take long leave, we suggest a quick trip to Chandigarh.
Chandigarh is the capital of Punjab and Haryana. It is therefore a professional hub and people from Delhi NCR travel to this Union Territory frequently on work.
Recently the travel bug was biting us but we were short of time. All we could afford were 2 days – one night. Also, we didn’t want to get very worked up with the drive and was willing to travel about 4 to 5 hours each way. We had driven passed Chandigarh earlier and had been awed by its beauty. As a rather impromptu choice, it was Chandigarh and what it had to offer.
Starting bright and reasonably early (7 a.m.) from Delhi and with a brief stop for breakfast, we were in Chandigarh little beyond noon. We had pre-booked a room via OYO which was not far from the sites that we wanted to see.
This garden is not a display of local flora. It is a garden with a difference. It is a display of a collection of very creative sculptures by Nek Chand. The uniqueness further lies in that the pieces have been created out of scrap and waste material – broken ceramic utensils, tiles, bangles, glass, auto parts etc. The topography of the area consists of waterfalls and sharp gorges. Once in, it seemed that we had reached an abstract dreamland complete with guards, castles, pegasus, birds, animals, humans with inimitable expressions on their faces. A section of colourful fish, magic mirrors, rope swing and an amphitheatre complete the fantasy world. A word of caution, the undulating terrain and the long flights of stairs may daunt the aged.
Close to the Rock Garden is a man made water body Sukhna Lake. It is formed by damming Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream. The area of about 3 square kilometers of clean water makes it an impressive sight. There are boating facilities in the lake while the embankment comprises a walkway, jogger’s track, benches and cafeterias. The soft lighting around the lake in the evenings gives the area a romantic feel. Overall, Sukhna Lake is bound to have a calming effect on frenzied nerves.
Sector 17 Market
We had heard a lot of good things about the Sector 17 Market in Chandigarh and spent our evening here as it was close to the above sites. It is an agglomeration of clothes brand, local stores, Punjab government handicraft emporium Phulkari as well as Khadi. Additionally, there are restaurants, game parlours and pubs. While it is a posh market as any other, what makes it stand apart is the excellent planning with abundant sheer free space. The shops are around huge courtyards that have benches all over with the occasional ice cream vendor passing by. Le Corbusier, the architect of Chandigarh was against any sort of clutter. This idea resonates in this market as well making it a great hang out area. We must mention that they have excellent parking arrangement here.
On our way back to Delhi next morning, we stopped at the Zakir Hussain Rose Garden. This is a botanical garden that has about 50,000 rose bushes of numerous varieties as well as some medicinal plants and trees. The garden is named after our third president Dr. Zakir Hussain and must be looking its best when the roses are in full bloom during January to March every year. That said, it’s a huge piece of greenery, like lungs of the city and is a great place to visit, except, perhaps on a peak summer day.
It was just a day and a half and we did so much! Chandigarh gave us the pleasures of a vacation in a limited time and budget.