Chandigarh

Chandigarh isn’t on many peoples itineraries when travelling India and it wasn’t on ours either. We just happened to go there because it would break up the trip from Manali to Delhi quite nicely.

What we found though was a very interesting and friendly city. One of the most unfortunate things about the city is the lack of places to stay. Because not many travelers visit there the guest houses are very old and way more expensive than you’d pay anywhere else. We found a place on Agoda before arriving and decided to book it.

Chandigarh is broken up into different sectors and it’s one of the few planned cities in India. It is also one of the few cities where most roads are beautifully paved, there aren’t many cows on the road and not much litter either. Also something quite interesting about the city is that the different areas are called sectors, so for example the shopping area is in sector 22 and The lake is in sector 1. I felt like I was in The Hunger Games for a little while.

After arriving in to the city after sunset we found our guesthouse and got settled in for the night, we ordered some room service and enjoyed our curries while catching up on a tv show or two.

The next day we decided to go in to Sector 22 and have a look at the shopping area. It was a little bit creepy as it was so clean and quiet there. There was a tourist office and the tourist police quickly came over to check if we needed any help with anything. We both felt that it was so stange being in an area of India that was so unlike any other place we had been to. After some window shopping and getting a bit lost we made our way to a bus stop to get on to the citys hop on hop off bus. (yes they had a tourist bus!!!)

Once the bus came we realised that there were only going to be the both of us and one other girl from New Zealand on it. We quickly became friends with Yael and were on our way to the first stop, a rose garden in the city park. I’m not going to lie I wasn’t too amazing by it. The roses were very beautiful but with the heat of the midday sun we didn’t stay too long to enjoy it. I didn’t even get a photo of them :/

Afterwards it was time for the city’s museum and art gallery. We quite enjoyed our time here. It was quite a small museum and there weren’t many people there so we had time to go around and view all of the beautiful art on display and some of the historic items, including beautiful rugs!

One of the beautiful statues at the museum.
A painting at the museum.

After quite a while here we finally went back to the bus with our driver scolding us for taking too long. Soon we were stopped at our next sight of the day which was a war memorial statue in one of the citys gardens. It was a beautiful staute and the gardens were very peaceful. We were allowed about ten minutes here, which was enough with the heat.

Our next destination was the most anticipated and probably the reason that most people go to Chandigarh in the first place. Nek Chand’s Rock Garden. Hmm, how can I describe this place?

Well, it all started when Chandigarh became the first planned city in India. There were buildings, houses and villages being knocked to make way for it. Nek Chand saw all of the waste and started collecting recyclable clay, glass, tin and other stuff and began working on a peaceful little area in the city where he could design beautiful art from other peoples rubbish.
It was illegal and no one knew that he was secretly creating this beautiful garden. He managed to keep it a secret for 18 years! When it was discovered it had become 12 acres of interlinked courtyards filled with sculptures everywhere. The government wanted to demolish it but luckily it got saved and is constantly being added on to. It now includes beautiful waterfalls and bridges and has so many different areas.

Some of the sculptures at the rock garden.
Beautiful recycled clay pots.
I don’t look too happy here, but I was, I swear!
Some of the poses that we saw were amazing!

We had a great time walking around it, although we ended up spending most of our time getting our photos taken with the Indian tourists…foreigners are a rare spot in this city and the excitement of seeing one was so sweet. We even had a woman invite us to stay with her and her family if we were ever in their area. It was a lot of fun and we ended up spending a couple of hours getting lost in the rock garden.

Some of the kids that wanted photos with us.

When we finally managed to find our way out of the rock garden it was time for the last stop of the day and that was Sukhana lake.
Sukhana lake is a manmade lake in the city where many of the families that live in Chandigarh spend their evenings. It is very cheesy complete with some swan paddle boats! I actually spent most of my time there chatting to a wonderful man that plucked up the courage to talk to me. He told me that he had went for auditions on an Indian singing show and was the oldest person that had entered. He showed me a video of his audition and then right there and then started singing for me. He was such an amazing man and that memory will stick with me for a long long time.

Sukhana lake.
A random camel outside the lake.
one of the many families enjoying their time there.
The wonderful man that sung to me.
Myself and Jason on the hop-on-hop-off bus.
Yael.

After our bus trip we decided to go for dinner near where Yael was staying. We had heard a rumour that there was a Quizno’s there and couldn’t resist a chance to have some! Our dreams came true and we managed to have some Quiznos (although you have to be careful with your choices as most of the meat selections are fake meat…vegetarian or chicken is always best!) We then met up with a local that Yael had been in contact with through Couchsurfing. He was really nice and we had planned on gonig to a club with them but didn’t have the right shoes on so couldn’t get in (We definitely were in a richer India!) So decided to give it a miss and head back to our guesthouse for a rest before our train to Delhi the next day.

Unfortunately the next day we got a rickshaw to the train station and I got groped by the driver, I felt so violated but didn’t say anything, I guess I was too shocked. Now, I wish I had screamed in his face and hit him! I also didn’t tell Jason until afterwards as I didn’t want him doing something he’d regret. Luckily that was the only time that something like that had happened to me in India.

Overall we really enjoyed our time in Chandigarh, we loved that it was a spur of the moment decision to go there and that there weren’t many foreigners there so felt like we had gotten off of the tourist trail and it was nice to see how the other half live in India. I’d definitely recommend a stop here on your way too or from the hills.

Getting there and away: Luckily it’s quite a big city so there are many buses and trains that go there from other cities. We got a bus there from Manali and then booked on to a train to Delhi. The train was great, we travelled during the day and even though it was only about 3 hours our train ticket included lunch and beverages.

Where we stayed: Hotel Grand Residency.
We booked this hotel through Agoda and it was the cheapest one available. (guesthouses are very expensive in Chandigarh)
The hotel was okay, it was a bit dirty but the food was good and it was fine for a couple of nights.
Here are the tripadvisor reviews for it.

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