Chandigarh On a BudgetAs India's first planned city, Chandigarh is a city very distinct from the rest of the country. Much of its architecture is very modern and sits against a backdrop of the Shivalik Hills. Some of the best known attractions of Chandigarh include its rock garden, rose garden, and Sukhna Lake.
SightsThe Rock Garden of Chandigarh is perhaps one of the most unique attractions of the city, created by Nek Chand who started his little garden in 1957 illegally until it was discovered in 1975 where it had already grown to about 12 acres of interconnected courtyards filled with hundreds of pottery-covered sculptures. From here, rather than being demolished the garden was turned into a public space and has today grown to encompass 25 acres. The Rock Garden is complete with 2000 statues, waterfalls, and amphitheaters. The sculptures are all made out of scraps and other repurposed materials with objects like bottles, glasses, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, broken pipes, and more.
Chandigarh also houses the largest rose garden in Asia, Zakir Hussain Rose Garden. This garden spreads over 30 acres of land, with up to 50,000 rose-bushes of about 1600 different species. It is also home to a number of medicinal plants and hosts an annual Rose Festival usually in February or March.
Sukhna Lake, located near the rock garden, is an artificial reservoir created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream that flows down from the Shivalik Hills. It is a popular place for hanging out, jogging, biking, or walking around its banks. There is a walking path, a cafeteria, shops, a mini-amusement park, and paddleboats. The lake also has Asia's longest water channel for rowing and yachting.
Other landmarks include the Open Hand Monument, Panjab University, Government Museum and Art Gallery, Leisure Valley, and the Capitol Complex.
NeighborhoodsIndia's first planed city is complete with tree-lined streets, beautiful roundabouts, and a number of stunning gardens, amidst modern architecture. With a high income per capita, Chandigarh is also home to some of India's biggest brands. This being said, there are a number of hotspots for high-end shopping throughout the city, some of which include Sector 17, Sector 22, Sector 35, and Manimajra. Sector 17 is the main commercial area with all of the major shops and brands, while Sector 22 is home to the Azad Hind Market where visitors can bargain for more unique items. The Elante Mall is another prime location for shopping, covering about 20 acres of area - the third largest mall in India. Sukhna Lake is also a communal area for hanging out and souvenir shopping.
ActivitiesThe top activities in Chandigarh mostly involve experiencing the sights mentioned above - the rock garden, rose garden, and Sukhna Lake, amongst others. Visitors can also rent bicycles to explore to their heart's content, or even take a bicycle tour around the city. There are also opportunities to do some boating on the lake, and of course shopping throughout the city. Other activities include the movies or theatre, as well as a few amusement parks located just outside of Chandigarh - Fun City and Thunderzone.
Food and DiningBeing a major city, Chandigarh's dining scene has a palette of international flavors as well as nearly all of the major Western fast food chains. As far as local specialties go, Northern India is known to use a lot of yogurt and cream and is usually non-vegetarian. Breads like naan, chapatti, and paratha are also common. Some regional dishes include things like sarson da saag, tandoori chicken, shami kebab, and makki di roti. Sarson ka saag is a popular vegetable dish in the Punjab regions of India and made from mustard leaves (sarson) and spices. Tandoori chicken is usually prepared roasted with yogurt and spices, taking its name from the cylindrical clay over called a tandoor in which it is traditionally cooked. Shami kebab is composed of a small patty of minced or ground meat with ground chickpeas, egg, and spices, while makki di roti is a kind of unleavened corn bread.
TransportationBy plane, Chandigarh International Airport serves the city with flights by Air India, Jet Airways, GoAir, and SpiceJet. Indian Airlines, GoAir, and Jet Airways offer a direct flight from Mumbai and Delhi. Kingfisher Airlines offers direct flight to Jammu, Srinagar (via Jammu), Delhi (twice per day), and also connects to Kolkata via Delhi.
By train, there is regular service to and from New Delhi on the Kalka (Chandigarh) Shatabdi Express (twice per day) and the economical Chandigarh Jan Shatabdi Express.
By car, Chandigarh is a 4-5 drive from Delhi.
There are two bus terminals, one in Sector 43 and another in Sector 17.