Chandigarh - The city of architecture & bougainvillea!

by Ar Gayathri Iyer

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sub-tropical bliss land of ocher monotones & hints of fresh greens & bougainvillaea pink along the roads; this city is a beautiful mix of contrasts between the vision of the planning fathers & the indigenous life. A stroll down the lanes of Chandigarh is as cinematic as it gets – flower drizzles, morning fog & beautiful cityscape! The city has much to offer in terms of art, architecture, culture & cuisine!
Let’s take a ride through what you can gorge on within a backpacking budget trip!!

Geography:

The land lies at the foothills of Shivaliks; more closer to the Himalayan base than the tropical counterparts. Originally, Chandigarh was a wide lake surrounded by marshland.
Hence, the climate is more subtropical than tropical with hot summers, chilly winters & mild to moderate monsoons.

History:

The land of Chandigarh is said to have hosted the Harappans about 4000 years ago. Post the partition, the state of Punjab approved the land of Chandigarh as the new capital place & to reinstate the refuges uprooted during the partition.
Basically, this place has something for all, be it instagrammers or architects; history enthusiasts or cricket!

When to go?

November-December is an ideal time to visit & fall in love with the city. Biting cold, muffler weather is a bit high & unusual for the tropical visitors but its chill sans snow, so very enjoyable!

How to go?

The best mode of transport recommended for experiencing the local flavour is the train. Direct train services are available from almost all major metropolitans in India. Depending on your location, the journey might last from a few hours to maybe a day or two.
*No matter where you are, take a train & enjoy the train route-scape. Besides the vista, the best part I enjoy is the local snacks & ‘TOMATO’ soup that is universal must try from Indian Railway Pantry!!

You can book you tickets directly from www.irctc.co.in 

Where to stay?

Affordable hotels & homestays are available in the heart of the city & the outskirts. If you want a more authentic experience, shift your bases within the city to get a more local taste of the surroundings. Nightlife is different in different localities; try to check it out.
*Rent scooters to swing into the nights & explore the city in the moonlight & stargaze! The rents are pretty affordable starting at as low as 500/1000 rupees for a few hours!

How to move around?

The city looks best when explored on foot or on cycle. Cycles are available on rent & at pretty affordable rates. Local transport means like buses & rickshaws are common sighting & affordable travel mode for lazy folks! [Just kidding].

Must try food recommendations:

Traditional local cuisine:

Chole-Kulche, Rajma chawal and Punjabi style food is the local speciality of the place. You can try it out in restaurants or try out small pocket dishes available on the streets. Local street carts sell these starting from 20/25 rupees onwards.

Street food:

Momos, maggi & Chinese is something I would personally recommend for you all to try. Especially the maggi from sector 20 where they serve variants of the staple junk food; delicious & under 100 Rs.

Culture:

Punjabi flavour of the place, its energy & enthusiasm just gets into your veins. Get hold of as many accessories as possible, these are the best in the whole area. Jhumkas, kadas & bangles; patiala, salwar, dupattas are something you will find in the local street markets. A wide variety of jootis [traditional footwear] are also available.
These are souvenir traditional attire of the place, something that you can flaunt as memorabilia.

Top fashion/market localities:

Sector 17:

This is a bit of a posh locality with hip boutiques & stores displaying an adorable array of designer wear. If you are lucky you can find one day tailors to get you into your suit within a few hours; measure, stitch & go.

Night Street Market:

The inner alleys of sector 10 onwards host an amazing night market. Colours, patterns & culture just steal your heart away!

“Mantra: hunt, barge in, bargain & buy!!”

Going around the city- Checklist!!

Capitol complex:

One of the visionary masterpieces of Le Corbusier, this piece of art and architecture-collaborated, is a must visit. It’s the heart of the Corbusier architecture in Chandigarh. It houses the High Court, Secretariat & the Assembly buildings. Visitors are provided with a guided tour through the campus; though most of it is not open to the public, the place is picturesque. Don’t forget to take a picture with the open hand monument!

The Assembly Building at Capitol Complex, Chandigarh.

Open Hand Monument

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Rock garden:

Renowned artist Nek Chand has created a beautiful sculpture art garden from rocks, bangles & shingles. The entire garden is a walkthrough through the creations of the artist – waterfall, sculptures & end with the swing park & canteen area!

Rock Art by Nek Chand at Rock Garden, Chandigarh.

Sukhna lake:

The local lake known for its amusement park; food mela & boating. Enjoy an evening boating ride, gorge on the desi chaat & stroll in the gardens. Boating: Group boats & individual rides are available at affordable rates [about 200/250 per person]. The park & boating is open up to 8 pm.

Le Corbusier centre:

Le Corbusier centre is an information & relic centre of the works & history of the architect. It’s a small place but worth a visit.

City Museum:

The museum entirely curated to fit the architectural style of the entire city houses some of the city’s best artworks, sculptures & the history of the city building. The place holds cultural festivals & is a must visit!

One of the buildings at the City Museum Complex, Chandigarh.

Mohali/ I.S. Bindra Stadium:

All cricket enthusiasts should visit this beautiful stadium! At just 8km from Chandigarh, located at Mohali, this one of well-known stadiums in the local as well as international cricket circuit.

Bougainvillaea garden:

Please your eyes, relax your minds & fill your Instagram at this beautiful garden. You can spot flowers of various varieties & colours.

Gandhi bhawan:

This bhawan is dedicated to the works & life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

One of the sculptures at Gandhi Bhawan, Chandigarh.

The city on an overall is a wondrous place; picturesque & beautiful. Roam around & discover new fab spots in the town; enjoy & share it with us too!
For more detailed information, you can visit www.chandigarhtourism.gov.in .

Architect’s note:

This experimental vision of Nehru & Corbusier together started taking shape in about 1952 when the foundation stone to the “re-designing” [I take the critical liberty of calling it re-designing being an architect!] Was laid. Corbusier, a French man drew out this modern sculpturous city out of his learnings from around the globe. Straight roads, large paved areas & ‘foreign’ monumental building complexes adorned the streets of Chandigarh; but the one thing they missed out in this decoration was the most crucial element – the common Indian man. As years passed by, now when you visit Chandigarh, try to observe of how the common man has changed the use & purpose of Corbusier’s & Nehru’s Chandigarh to make it his own. The city shows two parts, one of the lit, culturally rich street life of India & second the altered misfit of Corbusier.

by Ar Gayathri Iyer

by Ar Gayathri Iyer

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Architect, writer & Bharatnatyam artist. Backpacking one city at a time! Looking for food, culture, art & architecture across INDIA!

Read more at ggiyer.com

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