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Chandigarh Hop On Hop Off
Chandigarh Tourism runs a hop on hop off bus that starts from Hotel Shivalikview at Sector 17 and runs to prominent sites like the Rose garden, Museum and Art gallery, Bougainvillea Garden, Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake. There are no restricted timings for the hop on hop off bus. It keeps plying through out the day. So you can spend as much time as you want in one attraction and then wait for the bus before proceeding to the next. It is a double decker bus and looked cool. I noticed this bus only when I was at the Museum and Art gallery. By then I was done with half a day hence it was a late information for me. It is a good idea to take the bus and then combine your own attractions that you want to visit too.
Here is a One Day Itinerary of Must See places at Chandigarh.. Tuck yourself with aloo paratha and be at the gates of Rock garden at 9:00am
Rock Garden, Chandigarh
Rock garden also known as the Nek Chand’s Rock Garden is a sculpture garden at Chandigarh. One man’s vision to convert waste materials into a garden is something you need to visit and appreciate. Nek Chand started working on this garden secretly using the debris collected from the demolition site across Chandigarh as that was the time Chandigarh was being built. He started it at a gorge near the Sukhna lake which was actually a protected land and the garden was illegal. He kind of kept it as a secret of nearly 18years building stuff and artificial water bodies and figurines. That place is a marvel. Who would have thought that broken tiles or a comode and pipes from your bathroom can be made into a piece of art? It is astounding to see figurines made out of glass pieces, colored tiles, broken pottery, so creative!
The newer additions like the place with used clothes not so creative as what Nek Chand had done. It is a place that you will easily need 2 hours to spend. Quite possible to get lost in the maze of this garden too. I was like Alice in the Wonderland walking through tiny small door ways and entering into mythical gardens. It is so much fun. Every city should take inspiration from this Rock garden and channel their waste into beautiful piece of art.
By the time you are out of the garden it will be 11:00am. Head to the Tourist Facilitation Center at the Capitol Complex and book yourself for a tour of some of the famous architectural spots in Chandigarh like Capitol Complex, Open Hand Monument, etc for a 3:00pm slot. You cannot visit these buildings on your own! From there head to the Museum and Art Gallery.
Government Museum and Art Gallery
Even if you think you are not a history buff and museums are boring, you have to go here. It is huge and a wealth of information and filled with awesome collection! The building itself was constructed by architect Le Corbusier, who designed and built Chandigarh. The museum has everything from history of Chandigarh to information on textile, images, sculptures from the past, history of India, antiques from pre historic and historic period, beautiful different style of paintings, collectives from the partition period. As I walk through the museum and when I see stunning sculptures but it reads, “the other half of the collection is in museum at Lahore as it was divided during the partition”, felt really bad. Such wealth of information and we decided to break up our country! A prominent part of the museum has Gandhara Buddhist sculptures. If you read about the Gandhara kingdom, you will feel like packing your bags and going off on a tour to Pakistan. Majority of the kingdom was in the northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hence most of the artifacts excavated from the Gandhara period and Indus valley civilization have been split between India and Pakistan. The Gandharas were followers of Mahayana Buddhism and you can see their representation of Buddha will have an Indo Greek influence.
A Patua Scroll Painting in display. Patua scroll painting gets the name from patua community who are painters and story tellers. The stories are painted in a vertical scroll that run for meters, each scene bound by floral patterns that separate one from other. And as they move across villages telling stories, they unravel one scene after another by unscrolling it. This one in display was on a pillar that ran for two floors!
Hariti, a Buddhist Goddess. According to mythology, Hariti was a demon who would children and Buddha to teach her a lesson, hid one of her children. Grief stricken, she decided to not harm children and turns into a protector of children and subsequently people call her a Buddhist Goddess. This is a principle taught in Buddhism, like despise the sin not the sinner.
Bodhisattva Maitreya representation, Gandhara sculpture with open hair and mustache
It will easily take 2 hours and if you do not keep tap of time you will land up spending 3 to 4 hours in this museum. Be out by 1 pm. Have a simple lunch. And then let’s head to the Le Corbrusier Centre.
Le Corbusier Centre, Chandigarh
Once the office of work for Le Corbusier who was the architect of Chandigarh, is now a museum or rather stands as a tribute to it’s creator. Please don’t think two consecutive museums at a stretch, they are both different in many ways. Le Corbusier center talks of how Chandigarh came into existence, how a city is planned, the design templates of the famous buildings and a little bit of the French architect himself. It was here that I came to know that Chandigarh is named after Chandi Mandir, the temple dedicated to Chandi matha, Goddess Parvati. Chandi Mandir is however not within Chandigarh. I was told that it is about 15 kilometers away from the city inside an army camp that we do not have permission to visit to. There are many photos from the past on the city, on the architect, on politics of India, about Nehru’s vision to build the city and much more. So when Punjab was split and its capital went away with the partition, Chandigarh became the capital of Punjab. Nehru had this vision to have a planned city and thus Chandigarh was born. We can see many letters going back and forth between the architect, the labor community and poilitcians of India to make this thing happen in spite of the differences. This centre also houses few furniture and other stuff used by Le Corbusier.
If you are not very keen to do Le Corbusier Centre, you can replace this with one of the many gardens like rose garden, cactus garden, terrace garden, Japanese garden, etc. Check if it is the right weather and season to visit that garden and you can spend sometime in the gardens too. I skipped all the gardens as it was too humid and definitely not that time of the year when roses would be in bloom.
Leave a little time before 3:00pm and reach the capitol complex by 3:00pm ready for your tour.
Open Hand Monument
The symbol of Chandigarh that can be found all around Chandigarh and the first emblem designed by Le Corbusier. You can visit this monument only as part of the Capitol Complex tour. The tour covers High court building and museum, Open hand monument, Punjab assembly, Punjab & Haryana Civil secretariat. These buildings have architectural nuances that are nice to take a tour of and see. I was not part of this tour, I did not have this information and I missed all the tour timings for the day. There is one at 10am, 12pm and 3pm. Public entry is prohibited. This information was provided to me by the police security forces stationed at the Open Hand Monument. They still let me go take a photo of the monument after doing a little bit of inquiry and submitting my ID, bag, etc.
Open Hand Monument is the emblem or symbol of the Government of Chandigarh and symbolizes “the hand to give and the hand to take; peace and prosperity, and the unity of mankind”. What Open Hand Monument represents according to the snippet from the letter by Le Corbusier also is that,
“The Open Hand will affirm that the second era of the machinist civilization – the era of harmony – has started.”
Open hand is a tall structure that pretty much looks like a flying bird. Erected on a concrete platform, it moves along with the speed of wind. This monument is highly guarded and it is best you come along with the Capitol complex tour.
You should be out by 5pm from this tour. Lets head for some breezy time at Sukhna Lake.
All these are just kilometers apart. Sukhna lake is a huge man made water body on the foothills of Shivalik hills. It is a reservoir and hats off to Le Corbusier who could foresee that the city will expand and the people will need water, let’s build a huge reservoir. The place is ideal for sunrise and sunset. Sunsets opposite to the lake and not on the water body still it is a pleasant place to be. Many Chandigarh people can be seen walking around the lake as their daily exercise regime. There is boating option available, both pedal and a motor boat which takes you around the lake. The lake has few birds nesting and some ducks. With trees lining the lake, neat huge footpath to walk, a children area to play, a small food court to munch on, this is a place to wind up your day. You can walk around the lake till the end and watch the flora and fauna. Or just find your sweet spot, sit, munch on peanuts and watch people.
With that being 7:00pm let’s head out for some shopping or window shopping and have dinner.
Sector 17 Market Chandigarh
The popular hangout place of Chandigarh people is the Sector 17 Market. Plenty of high end shops lining the streets with lights gleaming away, cobbled footpath, a neat parking area and benches for people to sit, this place is just the feel of piece of Europe. There is some nitty critty shop or the other for you to buy a souvenir even if you cannot afford all the branded stuff. And who says no to window shopping!! Wind your day at the sector 17 market, and have some dinner at one of the many options available in this place.
And that my friends is how you can spend Chandigarh in a day. 🙂 It also has things like zoo and many many gardens, but these are my favorite picks. Happy traveling.
How To Reach Chandigarh
Chandigarh has an airport, so not a problem in reaching it through air. The airport is pretty outside the city but we don’t have a hand in it. By rail, many trains ply from New Delhi which is about 5hour journey. So you can always fly to the capital and take a train from there too. By road, many volvo buses ply from Delhi, Amritsar, etc.
Where to stay at Chandigarh
This is not a sponsored or promotional post that am recommending this stay but the hosts were very sweet so am recommending this AirBnb. A spacious bed room, kitchen and a spacious bathroom comes along with a big garden in the front. The property is in a good residential area with restaurants close by, parks to stroll and markets and shops nearby for your daily needs. The room has separate entrance. The host, Harmandar and his family were very friendly and made me feel home in a new city. Harmandar himself being a well traveled person, it was interesting and fun to catch up with all his travel stories.
Keep in mind that AirBnBs are not hotels. You should not expect room service, or party, or bring other guests and have fun. You will be sharing the house of another family and be their guest. So if you are one of those polite travelers who can mind their business, not demanding and polite then please check out this property.
Property Link – Maison Loin De La Maison, Chandigarh
Chandigarh in One Day – PIN It