Chandigarh is India's most modern and its first planned city made from concrete in the 1950s, thanks to the legendary architect Le Corbusier. Unusually spacious, clean, with straight roads, and abundant greenery, Chandigarh commands the special honor of being the only city housing the capitals of two different states Punjab and Haryana. It was named after an ancient temple called Chandi Mandir, devoted to Goddess Chandi.
The Union Territory of Chandigarh is the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. This best planned modern city of India was planned and designed by Le Corbusier, a famous French architect and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. The charming town referred as the ‘paean to the urban planning’ is divided into several self-contained sectors, with its own market-place, hospitals, educational institutions, worship place, gardens and open play grounds etc. Provision for a separate self-contained industrial zone at the east end of the city was made, to keep the city pollution free.
Chandigarh ushered into India “the modern architectural era” and is a manifestation of the dreams and aspirations of young India. Jawahar lal Nehru, remarked – “Let this be a new town, symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past an expression of the nation’s faith in the future”.
Chandigarh is situated at the foot of the Shivalik range. There are hardly any forests in this union territory, except for small tracks of forest by acquiring some areas on lease from Punjab and Haryana states. There is about 2542 hectares of forest area in Kansal and Nepali forest and some aeas in Raipur Khurd village of Chandigarh union territory.
Chandigarh enjoys an extreme climate with hot summers (March to June) and chilly winters (November to February). The monsoon season, though pleasant in the evenings, is very humid during the daytime. The best season to visit Chandigarh is autumn (August to November), when the weather is pleasant, neither too hot, nor too cold.
The name of the city is derived from the 'Goddess of power' known ad Shri Chandika. Chandigarh is the capital of Punjab and Haryana. It is the only Indian city to have been designed and planned by a single architect Le Corbusier. Infact, this was to be the first planned city of India. It was built in 1953, and is administered by the Central Government. Chandigarh is famous for its wide roads and spacious residential colonies and is an excellent base for specialized sightseeing.
Chandigarh Tourism Information
Chandigarh, the first planned modern city of India designed by the French architect, Le Corbusier serves as the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. However, this beautiful 'city of gardens' set against the backdrop of the great Shiwalik Mountains, does not belong to either of the states. It was constituted as a union territory on 1st November, 1966 and is administered by the government of India.
Designed by Le Corbusier, this massive complex in Sector 1 houses the High Court, Secretariat and Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) and is shared by Punjab and Haryana. The High Court, opened in 1955, is a must-see for its outstanding architecture and requires no permission to visit. Also, you would like to walk round to the Open Hand sculpture, another master-piece of Le Corbusier. While entering the High Court, there is a small museum on the way. It contains curios like the original Le Corbusier sketches and the handcuffs worn by Nathuram Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi. To visit the Vidhan Sabha, a permit is required from the Architecture department in the UT Secretariat.
Located about 53km from Chandigarh, the town of Sirhind served as the capital of the Pathan Sur dynasty. The Rauza Sharif, a mausoleum here, marks the burial place of Mujadid-alf-Saani Seikh Ahmed Farooqi, who lived during the time of Akbar and Jahangir. There is also an old mosque and several cenotaphs near the splendid Rauza. Some Muslim groups consider Sirhind very important and for them it is second only to Mecca in importance. A great Urs is held in this place in August every year.
Nek Chand Fantasy Rock Garden
The interesting fact about this Rock Garden is that the authorities discovered this secret creation of Nek Chand, only 18 years later in 1975. Chand created this garden complex with an imaginary vision of the divine kingdom of Sukrani, choosing a gorge in a forest near the Sukhna Lake for his work. The garden, which spans 25 acres, consists of several thousand sculptures set in large mosaic courtyards.
Natural History Museum
Also known as the museum of the evolution of life, it boasts a good collection of natural art, fossilized animal skulls and 500-year-old Sanskrit texts in its manuscript section. Its famous collections include 5,000 years of Indian History from the Indus Valley Civilization to present times. The adjacent City Museum displays some rare plans and sketches prepared by the Master Planner Le Corbusier.
Located in Sector 10, the Art Gallery has a modest collection of Indian stone sculptures dating back to the Gandhara period, together with some miniature paintings and modern art. A huge collection of modern Indian sculptures and graphics created by renowned artists is also on display. You will also see a small collection of objects in stucco and earthenware, metal, ivory, lacquer, ceramic, fabric and enamel.
The Open Hand
The Open Hand is the official emblem of the city. The design of this emblem as of the monument was conceived entirely by Le Corbusier. There is probably no city emblem in the world quite like this one.
This unique garden made out of rubble ranging from industrial to urban waste was conceived and created by Nek Chand. It is a must visit site of Chandigarh. Open from 9am to 1 pm and 2pm to 7pm on all days an unpretentious entrance leads to the magnificent, almost surrealist arrangement of rock fossils, broken chinaware, discarded fluorescent tubes, broken and cast away glass bangles, building waste, coal and clay all juaxtaposed to create a dream folk world of palaces, soldiers, monkeys, village life, women and temples.
This largest Rose Garden in Asia was named after Dr. Zakir Hussain, the former President of India. The garden sprawls over an area of 27 acres and has more than 17,000 plants representing about 1,600 varieties of rose species. It also has beautiful fountains and a large number of trees known for medicinal value.
This 3-sq km rainfed lake was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills. The roof of the 'bund' or dam, elegantly landscaped has become a favorite promenade. The beautiful lake provides water sport facilities like, boating, water-skiing, canoeing etc. It also has a cafeteria and pub.
Situated 80km from Chandigarh, Anadpur sahib, or Takhat Sri Keshgah, is one of the four takhats of the Kikh religion. Takhat means 'throne' or seat of temporal power. This historic and impressive gurudwara is highly revered by the Sikhs. It was here that their tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, baptized his followers into the Khalsa, the casteless brotherhood of saint soldiers.
Bhakra - Nangal
Bhakra dam, 116km from Chandigarh, is the highest dam of its kind in the world spans the river Sutlej, its poor houses light up all of North India. The main dam at Bhakra in the mountains has a 40 square kilometer reservoir, Gobind Sagar which has boating facilities and a restaurant.
Pinjore (adavindra) Gardens
This is a well known tourist destination near Chandigarh, and is located 22km away at Pinjore. The gardens lie at the foothills of the lower Shivlik ranges, and are an outstanding example of Mughal Gardening. Spread over 100 acres, Pinjore Gardens also host the Mango Festival. The gardens, developed by Nawab Fidai Khan served as a retreat for Mughal kings and their harems.
This picture perfect hill resort is situated about 45km off the city, in the Shivalik ranges. Morni Hills have been named after Queen Morni, who is said to rule this city. It is an ideal destination for nature lovers, ornithologists and adventure lovers. The best time to visit this place is September-March.
April Fools' Day
The first of April sees poets from all over the country gather at Chandigarh to recite verses in a jocular vein. Even those who do not ordinarily enjoy poetry look forward to the Maha Moorkh Sammelan, or 'Conclave of Colossal Fools'. No other city in India hosts such a gathering.
Baisakhi is the first day of the new year in the traditional Vikrami calendar, Basically formers celebrate the wheat harvest, and it is one of the greatest day of the year for Sikhs as it is the anniversary of the founding of Khalsa.
The Mango Festival
The Mango Festival is celebrated in the month of June at Pinjore Gardens. Mango-growers from all over India are invited to enter their prize fruits in the various competitions. It is also an occasion for agro industries, and food industries procession mango into jams, pickles and canned fruit to display their wares.
The Teez Festival is celebrated at the Rock Garden, Chandigarh in the month of August. Teej is a traditional holiday celebrated by women in the middle of the monsoon season generally around the first week of August.
Other places of interest are – Govt. Museum and Art Gallery, City Museum, Punjab University, International Doll Museum, National Gallery of Portraits etc.
How to get there
By Air: Chandigarh has an airport jus 11km away from the City Centre and it is well connected by air with all other major cities.