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Chandigarh is India's first planned city, quite distinct from the rest of the country and considerably better organized. It is the capital of both Haryana and Punjab, but the city itself is not part of either state, being a union territory, i.e. administered directly by the Central government.
- Rock Garden designed by Nek Chand. One day 36 years ago, Nek Chand, a humble transport official, began to clear a little patch of jungle to make himself a small garden area. He set stones around the little clearing and before long had sculpted a few figures recycled from materials he found at hand. Gradually Nek Chand's creation developed and grew; before long it covered several acres and comprised of hundreds of sculptures set in a series of interlinking courtyards. After his normal working day Chand worked at night, in total secrecy for fear of being discovered. When they did discover the garden, local government officials were thrown into turmoil. The creation was completely illegal - a development in a forbidden area. However, rather than demolishing the garden, they decided to give Nek Chand a salary so that he could concentrate full-time on his work, plus a workforce of fifty labourers. The park is open daily from April to September between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Between October and March, it is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.
- Sukhna Lake Located in Sector 1, the Sukhna Lake is an artificial reservoir. A popular place to hang out, one can expect to find residents of the city jogging or strolling along the banks. There is a walking path, a cafeteria, shops and a mini-amusement park and paddleboats. The Sukhna Lake was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream that flows down from the Shivaliks. Storks and cranes make migratory stops at the lake. The lake, incidentally, has Asia's longest water channel for rowing and yachting.
- Rose Garden: The city houses the largest rose garden in Asia. It also hosts annual rose festival which is quite popular among local population.
- The Capitol Most of the capitol complex is fenced off due to tight security, the open hand is accessible and from there you can see the main buildings, albeit in the distance. If you want a closer look at the Capitol, you need permission from the Tourist Bureau, in the ‘Deluxe Administration building’ in Sector 9. Please note the capitol and bureau are only open on M-F. The tourist bureau is not well signed, you’ll need to ask. It’s in the single story building out the back. Bring your passport and prepare for the beginning of the most amazing experience in Indian bureaucracy. All in all I spent three hours in total of which 50 minutes was spent looking at architecture. The tourist bureau gives you three letters giving you permission to visit the three main buildings of the Capitol complex, The Secretariat, the High Court and the Assembly.
- The High Court - The letter is fine for looking around the High Court just show to security at the entrance, around the back, but if you want to take photos you need to surrender your camera, and head in to fill out some more forms in the protocol office, and the take the forms back to security to get your camera back. It’s worth it as the building is amazing, and extremely photogenic. You can’t take any photos indoors.
- The Secretariat - To check out the Secretariat, it’s a little harder. First you need to find ‘reception’, which is just a small building out the back and show them your letter to get a visitor permit, then you need to see security who will let you in, then you need to see the main security officer inside, who will send you up to the registrar who will then send you back to the main security office. Thankfully you are escorted through most of this confusing, overly complex procedure, usually by a junior soldier with large machine gun. Whole process takes about 30 min. to an hour. Once it’s all clear you can go up to the roof, check out the geranium gardens, and take in an expansive view of all of Chandigarh. Then they’ll let you have a look out the front, which is more interesting.
- The Legislative Assembly (both for Punjab and Haryana) - Ran out of time, so make sure you have a whole clear weekday to appreciate all the capitol buildings.
- Pinjore Gardens - Pinjore Gardens, also called Yadavindra Gardens, are 20 km (12 mi) from Chandigarh and 15 km (9 mi) from Panchkula, on the Chandigarh Shimla road. Taxis and buses ply regularly between Pinjore and Chandigarh. Pinjore lies on the foothills of the lower Shivalik ranges. The fascinating gardens in the Mughal style are one of the most popular picnic spots in the region. A mini zoo, plant nursery and Japanese garden, as well historic palaces and picnic lawns await tourists.
- Museum and Art Gallery - Located in Sector 10, the museum and the combined art gallery is an interestin palce to go to. Artefacts range form the Harrapan Period relics to the paintings and coins from different areas and time periods. The Art Gallery has good collections of ancient and modern Indian art. Fossils of the local dinosaurs found in the region are on show in the adjacent natural history museum. The buildings that the Museums and Art Gallery are housed in are attractive.
- Mohali cricket stadium - This is a lush green cricket stadium and people throng here in masses during the cricket matches which the stadium hosts on regular basis
How to reach
Chandigarh has an equally good connectivity via road. It is a 4-5 hour drive from Delhi, the road comprising mainly of NH 1 is quite good. Chandigarh serves as a gateway to the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Important Distances :
- New Delhi - 260 km (160 mi)
- Shimla - 110 km (68 mi)
- Manali- 320 km (200 mi)
- Dehradun - 175 km (110 mi)
- Amritsar - 250 km (155 mi)
There are many car rental companies available. If you are traveling from Delhi, you can book a cab from a number of travel agencies present in various nook and corner of the city or you can book a cab just a call away. Traveling by smaller vehicles like Indica is the most common mode of cab transfers on this route. The highway is pretty scenic.
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