Weekend Drive to “The City Beautiful” Chandigarh

In our pursuit to exploring Punjab, this time around our destination was Chandigarh, the capital city of both Punjab and Haryana, located at a distance of about 260 kms from Delhi. Early 5th Sep morning we fuelled our car tank and started the journey.

Car parking Pinjore Garden

Car parking Pinjore Garden

The route to Chandigarh traverses through north Delhi to GT Karnal Road/NH1, Sonepat, Panipat, Ambala, Ambala-Chandigarh expressway finally to Chandigarh. Although it’s a real pleasure to drive the entire stretch with broad roads, scarce traffic and high speed above 110 kms/hr at some places, we got struck at Shahbad and wasted an hour due to a huge truck that had turned turtle. One can also see the city of Kurukshetra enroute with a giant figurine of Shri Krishna with Arjun on the chariot giving Geeta Gyan at the very entrance arch of Kurukshetra.

Kurukshetra city Entrance Arch

Kurukshetra city Entrance Arch

We thus reached Chandigarh an hour late than usual, it took us about five and half hours instead.
We were greeted by the “Welcome to Chandigarh- The City Beautiful” sign. It appeared quite strange to us reading “city beautiful”, but we soon realized how true the adjective was.

Chandigarh city entry

Chandigarh city entry

Driving through the arch we reached our hotel GK International in sector 35B. We had a nice sumptuous lunch and waited for the incessant rain to stop so that we could embark upon our exploration of the city but to our dismay it kept raining and we kept praying the next day to be a clear sunny day. We had heard quite a lot about Chandigarh-the planned city and we wanted to experience the city rather than look through it. God heard our prayers and by 8 am morning on the 6th, the clouds began to give way to a lovely sunny day. We started from our hotel with our GPS on phone, here i should mention, “Here Drive on Lumia” is the best companion one can ever ask for, the accuracy and prompt alignments are worth the praise. We didn’t have to ask for a single location direction. We headed for the Pinjore Garden first located on the Chandigarh -Kalka highway through Tribune Chowk.

Chandigarh Kalka Highway...way to Pinjore

Chandigarh Kalka Highway…way to Pinjore

It takes about 35 -40 minutes to reach the alluring Pinjore Gardens. The weather was amazing with blue mountains at the horizon and clouds playing hide and seek with the sun. Pinjore Garden is also known as Yadavindra Gardens and was established in the 17th century under the aegis of Aurangzeb by his architect Nawab Fidai.

History of Pinjore Garden

History of Pinjore Garden

The garden resembles the Chasm-e-Shahi of Srinagar in many aspects with its seven terraces and flowing water fountains. The walk through the garden that is wreathed by Cypress and Palm trees is very soothing. One tends to forget everything else and gets enthralled by the colorful flowerbeds and melodious chirping of the birds so also the hanging bats.

Interiors of Pinjore Garden

Interiors of Pinjore Garden

We were teleported back to the time when the kings and queens of the fore walked through these exuberant gardens. As we walked out of the angelic garden we refueled ourselves with a nice glass of fresh juice. One can also enjoy adventure rides which was under renovation when we reached, camel rides or stay at the majestic palace turned hotels here.

Fountains of Pinjore Garden

Fountains of Pinjore Garden

While driving back from Pinjore Garden to the city, we detoured to visit the Chandi Devi temple, the Goddess on whose name Chandigarh is coined. We missed the temple while heading towards Pinjore Graden since the temple is hidden behind the railway line. Thus we decided to take the blessings of the Goddess way back. Just before the toll gate starts one can take a U turn and park the car along the entry of the railway line. The temple is a walk of less than a minute from here.

Chandi Devi temple

Chandi Devi temple

The temple is a sidhi peeth and hundreds of devotes throng the temple during Navratas in October-November.
Our next stop was at Gurdwara Nada Sahib located at Sector 3, Panchkula. The gurdwara stands tall on the bank of river Ghaggar about 15kms from the city of Chandigarh. It is said after defeating the Mughals, Guru Gobind Singh and his followers rested at the place where the shrine stands today. Guru Gobind Singh named the shrine on the name of Babu Nadu shah who took care of the guru and his soldiers dedicatedly. Here we snatched sometime to sit inside the gurdwara and listen to the calming kirtans.

Nada Sahib Gurdwara

Nada Sahib Gurdwara

Heading straight from the gurdwara we entered the city to reach the most famed artificial lake fondly known as the Sukhna Jheel. The lake was designed by Le Corbusier and is created by damming the stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills.

Skies over Sukhna Lake

Skies over Sukhna Lake

To conserve the nature, no streamers or motorized boats are allowed here. It’s a delight paddling through the magnificent cerulean lake with various migratory birds like Cranes, Storks and Siberian ducks diving along with the boats or busily walking on the island tending to their routine activities.

Ducks of Sukhna Lake

Ducks of Sukhna Lake

The island which stands in the center of the lake holds a windmill and is restricted for entry. The cacophony of hundreds of birds is actually sweet to ears!

Boating at Sukhna Lake

Boating at Sukhna Lake

A kilometer walk from the Sukhna lake is the popular Rack garden. The story goes, Nek Chand the creator and designer of the garden, carved out this fantasy world with his imagination from the modern city wastes such as glass, bangles, ceramic, pottery, wires etc. It’s said he built the entire garden secretly in about two decades bit by bit. Visiting the garden can only one appreciate the patience and workmanship of this great person.

Entry to Rock Garden

Entry to Rock Garden

The Rock Garden in itself is a maze of tunnels, arches, narrow passages and galleries. At one point of time one would feel there is no further way ahead and suddenly a narrow walkway will open out of nowhere.

Sculptures of Rock Garden

Sculptures of Rock Garden

With astute sculptures of men, women, Gods and animals, the garden is indeed a delight. Not only vivid sculptures, the garden houses multiple waterfalls, fish aquariums and swings or jhulas that we all have loved swinging on during our childhood days.

Monkey artifacts of Rock Garden

Monkey artifacts of Rock Garden

Men, women and children of all ages without any tinge of hesitation swing their way through these swings, happily remising the good old childhood days!

Waterfalls at Rock Garden

Waterfalls at Rock Garden

After spending the entire day exploring the city we were enough tired to witness the invigorating gardens of the city. Thus we decided to take a break for the day and resume our exploration of the famous city gardens the next day.

Early morning being Sunday, and also the day to start our journey back to Delhi, we checked out from the hotel to visit the much talked about gardens of Chandigarh. The drive was real smooth with broad roads and next to no traffic. Our first choice was Cactus Garden which is located in the industrial belt of the city. An ecosystem of cacti and succulents, landscaped by Dr. J.S Sarkaria, the garden houses various exquisite varieties of cacti ranging from few inches to about 11′ tall.

Cactus Garden

Cactus Garden

The next garden on our list was the riveting Rose Garden or the ZakhirHussain Rose Garden named after our third president Dr Zakhir Hussain. The garden was built in 1967. It comes to its full bloom in spring and winter and is said to showcase close to 1600 varieties of roses.

Entry to Rose Garden

Entry to Rose Garden

Strolling through the well laid garden one can read through the imaginative names of the roses! The garden houses other trees and plants of medicinal values too. In all about 17000 species of different varieties of plants can be found here including bel, gulmohar, camphor, harad etc. the garden is best suited for morning or evening walks.

Inside Rose Garden

Inside Rose Garden

However, the garden is best visited during February and March when the annual Rose Festival is held in Chandigarh.

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

The third garden we headed for was the Garden of Fragrance, as the name suggests, the garden is replete with various aromatic plants.

Garden of Fragrance- Entry Gate

Garden of Fragrance- Entry Gate

The garden is one of the most desired gardens of the locals with landscaped grass and trees, chirping birds and lanes cut for people to take walks, enjoy the nature, jog or simply admire the beauty of nature sitting on the benches. Although our choice of time was not good enough since it was about 11 am and sunny, it’s said the garden smells divine with flowers like Jasmine, Champa, Roses, Nightqueen etc.

Garden of Fragrance interiors

Garden of Fragrance interiors

Thus our journey ended with exploration of one of the most enticing cities of India and we started for our journey back to Delhi to start afresh for another routine week ahead but surely with great vigor.

15 Comments

  • MUNESH MISHRA says:

    Very beautiful Post of the Most Beautiful City of India. All Pics used in the post are very attractive. Date and Time given on pics useful to future travellers to manage their trip to the City. Well planned trip.
    Thank you for Sharing.

  • Dr. Rashmi Mathur says:

    Awesome Description of the city…..
    luved the way u expressed the beauty of the city,its one of my favourite place too.

  • Beautiful post on Beautiful City . I live in Ambala which is just 50 KM away from Chandigarh and have visited this city 100 of times. In fact I worked here for one year. There are lot of places in Chandigarh for visitors. I think you missed Naina Devi Temple complex.
    Any way thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

    • Mala Raman says:

      Thanks Naresh.

      Chandigarh is indeed one of the best planned cities i have visited. I missed Naina Devi Temple, i couldn’t actually find any directions to the temple while coming back from the Chandi Devi Temple.

  • Baldev swami says:

    Very nice post Mala ji, you have described it so well. No doubt chandigarh is the CITY BEAUTIFUL.
    Mala ji there is a place near to Chandigarh, on the way to NADA SAHIB, MORNI HILLS . I think it is 30 odd kms appx from PANCHKULA, It is avery nice place to visit,

    Any ways it is very nice and beutiful post, waiting for the next,

    Baldev swami

  • Mala Raman says:

    Thanks Baldevji,

    Have heard about Morni Hills. Will surely plan a visit to the place soon.

  • Arun says:

    Thanks for making it possible for us to cover 500 KMs along with sight scenes in just 500 words.
    The post is so informative, specially for people like me, who intends to capture this beautiful city.

    Thanks
    Arun

  • Nandan Jha says:

    And I was at Chandigarh the prior week. :-) I have stayed in Chandigarh for about 6 week (was working in a company there) in 1999. Have visited it a few times after that.

    This time, I went back to Sec 17 (satara as it is fondly called) and the ‘Hot Millions’ to see how they are doing. Sec 17 had lost all its patrons to new age malls. We did have our dinner at ‘Salad Palace’ (right on top of HM1). HM was kind of “THE Place” 15 years back. I could not visit any of the local attractions because of work so reading your log has compensated my loss.

    Thank you Mala.

  • Chandigarh on my radar for a long time but could not travel so far :). Let’s see if your post help in planning the trip soon.

    Beautiful story with equally beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela says:

    Hey Mala,
    Very informative post and useful for those who stay nearby. :)

  • Sushant Singhal says:

    Hi Mala, today a friend of mine invited me to Chandigarh and I decided to find out what our Ghumakkar friends have to say about this CITY THE BEAUTIFUL. The first post that greeted me was yours and it didn’t disappoint me even a bit. You have a flair for writing travelogue and I have decided to look for more of your posts.

    As regards Chandigarh, it is just 130 km. from my home and I have been to this place on two or three occasions but none of the trips was a leisurely trip so didn’t have time to explore it. However, while returning from Shimla, we did visit Pinjor Gardens and wrote about it on this website. http://www.ghumakkar.com/shimla-kufri-jakhu-temple-and-back-journey/ Let me warn you before you venture to this link. This is a very very long story there and you may find yourself trapped in it. :-)

    Besides your colourful text, your pics also have come out nicely. Hope you write regularly.

    Bye for now.

  • muskan says:

    What an amazing place it is as i also have been there.
    Chandigarh is truly CITY THE BEAUTIFUL !
    thank you Ms. Mala Raman for sharing.

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