Chandigarh is the city beautiful, and now that I am close to saying Goodbye, I feel nostalgic. This piece, is a mark of respect to the city.
For me, Chandigarh is special as it helped with 2 C’s – CAR & CAREER – I learnt to drive here -trust me the roads are so good and traffic organized, even a non-driver like me (I never even rode a bicycle in life) can take the plunge till 5th gear. And, my career got the right exposure, got streamlined.
This write-up is more of a memoir; pick up your travel cues from here!
Aloo parantha and champagne at a highway dhaba
Well, when it comes to exploring – food was the priority – I was simply bowled over by the numerous cuisines, international and regional readily available here – I was spoilt for choices. Go to sector 26 and revel in fine gourmet dining. However, my personal favourite is the dhaba (highway road-side eating joint) on Zirkhpur – Patiala highway, NH-22. This one is a big fan of the famous Punjabi singer, Gurdas Mann – so you’ll find the dhaba decorated with his huge cut-out, and jazzed up with dhol and mast punjabi songs. I always order tandoori aloo parantha and garam chai ki payali – order it anytime of the day; and you get it superbly tasty and steaming hot. This dhaba is open 24 hrs a day.
So, there was this one time, our gang was totally sloshed and it was our best friend Arun and Richa’s anniversary. We went there just before 12pm, jumped on a khat, placed the cake and champagne; ordered for aloo paranthas with extra butter (ask for white butter, tastes awesome!) and enjoyed in our unique style – With trucks breezing by and eating parantha with champagne, nothing can beat the simple beauty of the moment!
The Sukhna Lake and the less-known Garden of Silence
Well, everybody in Chandigarh and those planning to visit surely know about Sukhna Lake.
It is a tourist high-point, a huge artificial lake, with boating facilities, fountains and ducks floating around. Apart from the water fun, you have a nicely done walking path around it, with soft music. You’ll find people in love or people in love with their health, walking around.
It’s fun to get your friends and family; and spend a lovely evening by the water. This side of the lake is bubbling with activities, a complete picnic spot. Then there is the other extreme end of the Sukhna Lake which is quieter, and calmer.
It is here that you see Garden of Silence – a magnificent statue of Gautama Buddha, sitting in enlightenment posture with aesthetically done lights around it. Just sit down, enjoy the evening breeze, look into the statue and you’ll feel quieter from inside as well. Enjoy the meditative and soulful experience.
Though, this place is not high on the tourist package lists, do visit if you are looking for something different.
The Rock Garden
I had been to Rock Garden umpteen number of times, mostly to take around relatives who come over for a vacation. It’s best to see Rock garden, first, say around 3 in the afternoon and then go to Sukhna Lake – firstly, the Rock Garden tour takes time, depending on your speed, photography enthusiasm and the crowd – still nothing less than 2 hours to see it completely. So by the time you finish you are tired, and evening has set in, so go to the Sukhna Lake which is just 5 mins walk from there – and chill out around water.
I will not repeat what you already know about the Rock Garden – a unique concept of creating out of waste by Nek Chand. He had used cups, saucer, electric plugs, holders, so many things. The section made of bangles is my personal favourite.
There is something interesting to share – the last phase of Rock garden. It resembles courtyard of a palace with huge swings. This place is cool. Feels like bygone era of Kings and me the royal queen enjoying swings J
Another thing that I noticed was the doors or passageway entrances in Rock Garden were unusually lower, and one has to bend almost half to walk through them. Intrigued, I researched and found that this was knowingly done – you bend, you pay obeisance.
The Open Hand Monument
On one cloudy evening, I went to see the Open Hand. A magnificent structure, that is so huge and solid, but made with such engineering that the hand is free to revolve as per wind’s direction. Something to marvel at!
There I saw a podium and luckily I had Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Gitanjali in my bag. I just couldn’t stop myself….I climbed the podium and gave a performance, Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…The natural echo system made an emphatic prose delivery. I thorough enjoyed reciting there, just one thing I was both the performer and the audience…Why not? I made myself happy; I was transported to the era of freedom fighters giving speech from such a podium to thousands of people eager to give their life on one call of the leader…simply a wow feeling. If you are like me, a performer at heart – do visit the Open Hand and enjoy your performance.
The Roads of Chandigarh
The beautiful roads of Chandigarh are a tourist spot in itself. Lined with trees, shades of yellow, red , purple , white flowers….the sight of Shivalik mountain at the end…JUST PERFECT. I don’t know how many times I just drove from one street to another, without going anywhere…but enjoying the scenic roads. If you are in Chandigarh, you must take a break from the idea of visiting tourist spots…and just drive. Enjoy nature at its very best – aimless and careless.
Go with the flow.
To end this piece, I thought I must pay a special tribute to my Terrace – that had hosted many a fun parties, romantic evenings, rain watching sessions and much more. Our stay and love for Chandigarh wouldn’t have been complete without this terrace that, due to its sheer grandeur, urged us to sit back and relax, and enjoy life – the organic way.
That’s Chandigarh for me.