Chandigarh

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Chandigarh is a very beautiful city in India. It is the capital of both Haryana and  Punjab, but the city itself is not part of either state, being a union territory, i.e. administered directly by the Central government.

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Understand

The most striking thing about the city is the expanse of resplendent blue sky with the mountains in the backdrop. When you are approaching the city, you would see the jagged skyline of the Shivalik Hills looming large over the city and the faint image of an old temple dedicated to Goddess Chandi (15 km form Chandigarh) from which the city got its name.

Get in
By plane

Indian Airlines, Kingfisher Airlines, GoAir and Jet Airways offer a direct flight from Mumbai and Delhi. Recently MDLR Airlines began to offer connections to Ranchi and Kolkata via Delhi. Kingfisher Airlines offers direct flight to Jammu, Srinagar (Via Jammu), Delhi and further connects to Kolkata via Delhi. GoAir has recently started a connecting flight to Goa

By train

There is frequent service to and from New Delhi. The popular trains connecting New Delhi include ‘Kalka(Chandigarh) Shatabdi Express’ and the economical Chandigarh Jan Shatabdi Express (Una(H.P) to Delhi). Shatabdi Express is quite popular and it is better to have an advanced reservation at least 2-3 days prior to the journey.

Popular long distance trains include:

* Paschim Express (daily) to Mumbai
* Kalka Mail (daily) to Howrah
* Dehradun-Chandigarh Madras Express (Monday) to Chennai
* Kerala Sampark Kranti (Wednesday) to Kochuveli ( Kerala)
* Chandigarh Lucknow Express (daily) to Lucknow.
* Chandigarh-Jaipur Garib Rath to Jaipur.

Also a high speed rail line will be built from Amritsar-Delhi via Chandigarh. The train is to run 350 km/h and will get passengers from Chandigarh to Delhi in 50 min and Amritsar in 1 hour and 50 mins.

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By car

Chandigarh has an equally good connectivity via road. It is a 4-5 hour drive from Delhi, the road comprising mainly of NH 1 is quite good. Chandigarh serves as a gateway to the state of Himachal Pradesh.

Important Distances :

* New Delhi – 260 km (160 mi)
* Shimla – 110 km (68 mi)
* Manali- 320 km (200 mi)
* Dehradun – 175 km (110 mi)
* Amritsar – 250 km (155 mi)

By bus

Chandigarh is served by two bus terminals.

The Inter State Bus Terminus in Sector 43 ,provides connectivity to all major destinations in the neighbouring states Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Jammu, and Delhi(limited).

The Inter State Bus Terminus at Sector 17 offers connectivity to all major towns of Haryana (except those on Himachal Route like Kalka) and Delhi.

Delhi is extensively connected with bus service every 15 minutes offered by Chandigarh Transport Undertaking, Haryana Roadways, Punjab Roadways and Himachal Roadways. Volvo A/C buses are also run on Chandigarh-Delhi section and offer connection to the Airport and towns like Gurgaon. The fares of Volvo buses are usually comparable with the Shatabdi Express. The timetable for Haryana State Transport Volvo Buses can be found here.

Chandigarh Transport Undertaking offers a comprehensive connectivity between the two bus terminals with air conditioned and normal buses plying throughout the day between the terminals.

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Get around
By bus

The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) provides local bus Transport service in Chandigarh and satellite towns of Panchkula and Mohali. There are two Local bus Terminals at Sector 17 and Sector 43. The bus service is frequent and efficient and runs from 6:00AM to 10:00PM. It is very economical with a single point to point fare of Rs. 5 regardless of the distance. The map of Chandigarh showing all the bus routes is printed on the back of each ticket.In the New Grid Transport System 45 routes are being plied in Chandigarh. The travel is generally hassle free, though there might be rush on some particular routes during morning and evening peak hours.

Recently, mini air-conditioned buses have been deployed on some vital routes (connecting location such as PGI, ISBT -17,43, Railway Station, IT park and others). The fare for these is Rs. 10/- for a single trip.

The Chandigarh tourism also runs a special Hop On Hop off double-decker bus which takes you around for a tour of all the main spots in the city including Sukna Lake, Punjab University, and the Secretariat. Having bought one ticket, a person can board or disembark as many times in a day as he wishes. This provides him flexibility to see the places of interest and spend as much time as he wishes at a particular spot of his choice. It starts its journey from Hotel Shivalikview in Sector 17 near the Bus Terminal.

By taxi

There are not many private local taxi services in the city. The private taxi operators can be located at Taxi stands in Commercial market of every sector.

UT administration has started a fully air conditioned cab service. The cabs are available at the door step on giving a call. The cabs are stationed at important places including Railway Station and Airport. The cabs are fully air-conditioned and extremely comfortable. They serve Chandigarh and satellite towns of Panchkula and Mohali. All the taxis are brand new, air conditioned/air heated and driven by the uniformed drivers. Taxis are also have a complaint book and any passenger can lodge a complaint with State Transport Authority if services provided to him are not found up to the mark. The cabs are continuously monitored through GPRS technology whereby their locations are monitored by their respective control rooms.

There are no charges for first KM except for the meter down charges. Rate Rs. 15/- for the first kilometer and Rs. 15/- for the subsequent kilometers. Available on call at (0172) 4141414.

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By Auto Rickshaw

Chandigarh Union Territory is the first city in the country to have Radio Auto service on the lines of successful working of the Radio Taxi service. The autos, pink in color, charge Rs. 10/- for 1st km and Rs. 8/- for subsequent km. The service named as “tuk-tuk” is available round the clock. Available on call at (0172) 4242424.

On the whole, Auto Rickshaw are not quite popular in the city although are easily available at Bus Terminals, Railway Station, and Auto Stands in the commercial market of every sector. It is very unlikely that they would operate with a meter so negotiate the price before engaging one.

By Cycle Rickshaw

Cycle rickshaws are three-wheeled pedal powered rickshaws with seats in the back to seat passengers and a driver in the front. They are good for short distances, or places which are too far to walk but too short for taking a bus/taxi/auto rickshaw. Cycle rickshaws can be easily spotted in all parts of the city. You should negotiate the price before boarding one of these. Ask the locals to help if you doubt the charges demanded.

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See

* Rock Garden designed by Nek Chand. One day 36 years ago, Nek Chand, a humble transport official, began to clear a little patch of jungle to make himself a small garden area. He set stones around the little clearing and before long had sculpted a few figures recycled from materials he found at hand. Gradually Nek Chand’s creation developed and grew; before long it covered several acres and comprised of hundreds of sculptures set in a series of interlinking courtyards. After his normal working day Chand worked at night, in total secrecy for fear of being discovered. When they did discover the garden, local government officials were thrown into turmoil. The creation was completely illegal – a development in a forbidden area. However, rather than demolishing the garden, they decided to give Nek Chand a salary so that he could concentrate full-time on his work, plus a workforce of fifty labourers. The park is open daily from April to September between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Between October and March, it is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.

* Sukhna Lake Located in Sector 1, the Sukhna Lake is an artificial reservoir. A popular place to hang out, one can expect to find residents of the city jogging or strolling along the banks. There is a walking path, a cafeteria, shops and a mini-amusement park and paddleboats. The Sukhna Lake was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream that flows down from the Shivaliks. Storks and cranes make migratory stops at the lake. The lake, incidentally, has Asia’s longest water channel for rowing and yachting.

* Rose Garden: The city houses the largest rose garden in Asia. It also hosts annual rose festival which is quite popular among local population.

* The Capitol Most of the capitol complex is fenced off due to tight security, the open hand is accessible and from there you can see the main buildings, albeit in the distance. If you want a closer look at the Capitol, you need permission from the Tourist Bureau, in the ‘Deluxe Administration building’ in Sector 9. Please note the capitol and bureau are only open on M-F. The tourist bureau is not well signed, you’ll need to ask. It’s in the single story building out the back. Bring your passport and prepare for the beginning of the most amazing experience in Indian bureaucracy. All in all I spent three hours in total of which 50 minutes was spent looking at architecture. The tourist bureau gives you three letters giving you permission to visit the three main buildings of the Capitol complex, The Secretariat, the High Court and the Assembly.

* The High Court – The letter is fine for looking around the High Court just show to security at the entrance, around the back, but if you want to take photos you need to surrender your camera, and head in to fill out some more forms in the protocol office, and the take the forms back to security to get your camera back. It’s worth it as the building is amazing, and extremely photogenic. You can’t take any photos indoors.

* The Secretariat – To check out the Secretariat, it’s a little harder. First you need to find ‘reception’, which is just a small building out the back and show them your letter to get a visitor permit, then you need to see security who will let you in, then you need to see the main security officer inside, who will send you up to the registrar who will then send you back to the main security office. Thankfully you are escorted through most of this confusing, overly complex procedure, usually by a junior soldier with large machine gun. Whole process takes about 30 min. to an hour. Once it’s all clear you can go up to the roof, check out the geranium gardens, and take in an expansive view of all of Chandigarh. Then they’ll let you have a look out the front, which is more interesting.

* The Legislative Assembly (both for Punjab and Haryana) – Ran out of time, so make sure you have a whole clear weekday to appreciate all the capitol buildings.

* Pinjore Gardens – Pinjore Gardens, also called Yadavindra Gardens are 20 km (12 mi) from Chandigarh, 15 km (9 mi) from Panchkula, on the Chandigarh Shimla road. Taxis and buses ply regularly between Pinjore and Chandigarh. Pinjore lies on the foothills of the lower Shivalik ranges. The fascinating Mughal Gardens one of the most popular picnic spots. A mini zoo, plants nursery, a Japanese garden, historic palaces and picnic lawns await tourists.

* Museum and Art Gallery – Located in Sector 11, the museum and the combined art gallery is an interestin palce to go to. Artefacts range form the Harrapan Period relics to the paintings and coins from different areas and time periods. Fossils of the local dinosaurs found in the region.

The Chandigarh Museum, which is just next door, provides an interesting aspect on how Chandigarh was founded. It begins with the principles on which Chandigrh was built, selection of the Architects, the design for the people etc.

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Facts

* Chandigarh with the highest income per capita in India is home to biggest brands. It is a shopper’s paradise. The main hot spots for shopping are markets of Sector 17,Sector 22,Sector 35 and Manimajra. However don’t expect to get good bargains as most of the shopping places here are costlier when compared to Delhi or other places.
* Do enjoy the planned city with tree lined roads, big and beautiful roundabouts, several gardens and on the top it – a great set of people.
* Visit the Sukhna Lake in the evenings/early morning for an enriching pleasant experience.
* Visit Nek Chand’s Rock Garden to take a walk through a magical kingdom made entirely out of recycled materials.
* Enjoy a round of boating on Sukhna Lake’s enigmatic waters. Shikaras are also available.
* Plan a day’s trip to nearby hill station of Kasauli, Solan or Shimla.
* Visit Kalagram on Manimajra-Chandigarh road. It has exhibition of various handicrafts and decorations from various parts of the country. It also houses the innovative and famous “Condom Bar”, whose theme is centred on condoms.

Buy

There are plenty of Shopping Avenues in Chandigarh. Chandigarh is home to all leading brands and retail store chains.

Sector 17 is a fully commercial sector which houses all the major brands and shops that cater to wide array of taste and pocket.

Other popular shopping places are Sector 22, Sector 35 and Manimajra.

If you want to bargain hard for usual stuff try the Azad Hind Market in Sector 22. (Closed on Monday).

You can buy souvenirs in form of Coffee Mugs, Shirts etc. at the Sukhna Lake.

 

Eat

You can relish all type of cuisines from local Punjabi flavours to Continental cuisine.

Stay safe

Chandigarh is a safe city. With the lowest crime rates in the country you can feel safe at any hour. Police assistance can be found at the nearest police station or at the patrolling booths in every sector. You can call following numbers for respective help : 100 (Police), 101 (Fire), 102 (Ambulance), 1073 (Traffic Police Helpline).If you are calling from a mobile phone just add the STD code i.e. 0172 in front of the emergency numbers. This holds true for any Indian city.

Balance

India is often said to assault the senses, and can be overwhelming to travelers. Some of the Chandigarh may appear oddly familiar to Western visitors and idiosyncratic to the rest of India. Because of this, Chandigarh is a good place to visit if you need a break from the constant flow of India.

Get out

Chandigarh is also based of motorbikes expeditions the are so many bikers club organise motorbiking and adventure activities.

* Shimla which is just 110KM from Chandigarh by road.
* Kasuali which only 90 minutes drive from Chandigarh can also be visited. It is a Hill station not very far from the city. If one is lucky, in clear weather it offers a staggering view of Chandigarh from the Himalayan Foothills.
* Other Himachal hill stations such as Kullu & Manali, since it is a city which is a gateway to Himachal Pradesh. A trip by road to Kullu takes about 12 hours.
* One can visit Pinjore Gardens that are within a range of 15-20 km (9-12 mile) from Chandigarh on the way to Shimla.

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District(s)     1
Established     1953
Capital     Chandigarh
Largest city     Chandigarh
Population
• Density     900,635[1] (29)
• 7,900 /km2 (20,461 /sq mi)
Language(s)     Hindi,Punjabi and English
Time zone     IST (UTC+5:30)
Area
• Elevation     114 km2 (44 sq mi)
• 350 m (1,148 ft)
Codes[show]
• Telephone     • +172
ISO 3166-2     IN-CH
Footnotes[show]
The city of Chandigarh comprises all of the union territory’s area.
Website     chandigarh.nic.in/