Early Morning at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, India

Chandigarh makes for a perfect family vacay

Among the best planned cities in India, you can enjoy a green holiday in Chandigarh

Better known for its educational institutions, Chandigarh is a town planner’s delight with its elegant commercial and residential areas amid huge green spaces and university campuses. In 1951, Swiss architect, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, who was better known as Le Corbusier, was invited by the government of Punjab to design its capital. It was interesting to know that Le Corbusier designed the city like a human body—the left side was all industrial, the right was residential and educational, the heart was the government hub. The famous Open Hand monument in the city is a significator of the famous architect’s motto: ‘Open to give, Open to receive’.

Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India
Open Hand Monument, Capitol Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chandigarh, India

Long before traffic became a menace, Chandigarh did not need red lights. The people drove through lovely wide roads, crossing houses with low walls and refreshing greenery. The city was unlike any other in Punjab. It was a students’ hub as they came from all over India to study in Punjabi University and the famous Government Medical College & Hospital.

But like everything else, Chandigarh has also seen population explosion and the rise of satellite towns such as Mohali, Panchkula and Zirakpur. The suburbs have risen with more MNCs, software parks, knowledge centres and manufacturing industries. Despite the branded stores and changed pace, some things have not changed.

1. Sukhna Lake

Early Morning at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, India
Early Morning at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, India

An early morning ride to Sukhna Lake is and has always been bliss. Walkers and fitness freaks reach here before the sun rises. Soft music floats through the air, the rising sun and the chirping birds make it the perfect way to begin the day. Many perform yoga on the side of the lake, while others are rowing the boats. There is less chatter and more nature here. It is a pleasure to breathe in some fresh air and see the pollution-free blue skies.

Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, India
Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, India

Maybe it’s mayhem as the day progresses for there is a food court and rides for children and boating, but the early morning scene is refreshing.

2. Rock Garden

The Rock Garden is just a few minutes walk from the lake. But some use golf carts too to reach the ticket counter, which opens at 9am. The sculpture garden is a piece of art. During my teens, I probably missed the wonder in it, the spirit of a man called Nek Chand.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India
Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

History tells that he went to the Shivalik hills, collected the stones and waste materials to make these sculptures. He kept these hidden the work for 18 years, as it was considered illegal. Waste tiles, broken bangles and wires are now men, women, owls, monkeys, horses, birds.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India
Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

If you really want to enjoy the garden, keep some time for there are interesting things that you find in every nook and corner. And you would enjoy walking through the narrow paths, sitting on the benches or under a tree, watching the little fishes in the aquarium or laugh it out in the gallery of laughing mirrors. Or maybe you would like to take pictures by the flowing water bodies and feel nice looking at the green trees. There are swings too in one area. Eatables and drinks are not allowed inside. It is a sweaty walk inside though, so do keep some handkerchiefs.  

3. Capitol Complex

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is maintained by Chandigarh Tourism. This complex, designed by Le Corbusier himself, comprises the High Court, Open Hand monument, Assembly Building and The Secretariat, the decision-making hub of the city. Spread over 100 acres, there are three more monuments here, namely Geometric Hill, Tower of Shadows and the Martyrs Monument, and a lake. Le Corbusier constructed the Tower of Shadows in such a way that not a single ray of sun enters it from any angle. The north side of this tower remains open because the sun never shines from this direction. Le Corbusier used the same principle for the other Capitol Complex buildings as well.

Walking in Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India
Walking in Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India

A tourism officer and police accompany every visitor here. Best explored on foot, it is popular with people from abroad and among architectural students. The sun dial does catch my attention. 

Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India
Sundial (above), Assembly Building, Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India

4. Gurudwara Nada Sahib

The sound of shabads greeted us at this holy place in Panchkula at the foot of Shivalik Range on the banks of Ghaggar. Legend goes that after the battle of Bhangani in 1688, Guru Gobind Singh reached here with his army. Guru Gobind Singh was travelling from Paonta Sahib and going to Anandpur Sahib.

Baba Nadu Shah, a Lubana by caste and an agriculturist, was influenced by the Guru and served milk to the army. Pleased by this selfless service, the Guru blessed the Baba that, “One day, this place will be visited by thousands and anyone coming with sincere intention will be rewarded with the fulfillment on his wish, provided that he pays respect to Baba Nadu”. On every full moon, people come to seek the blessings of the Guru and Baba Nadu Shah.

We bowed to the holy flag flying atop a 105 feet (32 m) high staff on one side of the courtyard, near the site of the old shrine. And thanked the divine for langar prasad: a cup of tea and a bowl of jal prasad.

Mansa Devi and Gurudwara Nada Sahib, Chandigarh, India
Top left: Mansa Devi temple; Gurudwara Nada Sahib, Chandigarh, India

5. Mansa Devi temple

This was our last stop on this trip. A form of Shakti, she is the goddess who rules mann or things which we feel. And she blesses this mann to remain pure. This temple complex is spread over 100 acres on the Shivalik foothills in village Bilaspur. It was built by Maharaja Gopal Singh of Mani Majra between 1811–1815.

More Popular Attractions

  • Yadavindra Garden, Pinjore
  • Morni Hills
  • Cactus Garden, Panchkula
  • Zakir Hussain Rose Garden, Chandigarh
  • Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh
  • M.C. Zoological Park / Chhat Bir Zoo, Zirakpur
  • Elante Mall, Chandigarh
  • International Dolls Museum, Chandigarh
  • Terraced Garden, Chandigarh
  • Le Corbusier Centre, Chandigarh
  • Fun City, Chandigarh
  • Garden of Fragrance, Chandigarh
  • Japanese Garden, Chandigarh
  • Butterfly Park, Chandigarh
  • ISKCON Temple, Chandigarh
  • Topiary Park, Chandigarh
  • Garden of Silence/Buddha Peace Park, Chandigarh
  • Shanti Kunj Park, Chandigarh
  • Fine Arts Museum, Chandigarh
  • Botanical Garden, Chandigarh
  • Bougainvillea Garden, Chandigarh
  • Leisure Valley, Chandigarh
  • Children Traffic Park, Chandigarh
  • Hibiscus Garden, Chandigarh
  • Musical Fountain, Chandigarh
  • Garden of Palms, Chandigarh
  • City Forest, Chandigarh

How to reach Chandigarh: There are many trains from all over and the railway station is among the cleanest ones in India.

Chandigarh Railway Station, India
Chandigarh Railway Station, India

There is also an international airport at Chandigarh. And the city is also well connected by road.   

Have you been to Chandirgarh? Please share your thoughts with us.  

21 thoughts on “Chandigarh makes for a perfect family vacay

  1. What an interesting place to visit – I love that Le Courbiseur designed it like a human with opposing elements dictating the structures and where he placed them. The mosaics in the rock garden photographs reminded me of Parc Guell in Barcelona – Gaudi’s masterpiece. The town seems like a pleasant place to wander around on a cool day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting how the government of Punjab has a visionary to build this planned city in 1951. Then the architect built it based on a human body. I feel you when you said you missed the wonder of the Rock Garden during your teens. I think we all went through it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like there are many popular attractions. The rock garden, and all those gardens you listed would be my choice. Beautiful, yet peaceful places to visit. It’s a great variety offering something for every traveller.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Chandigarh! Yes, Rock garden is the unique top attraction with creative sculptures of humans made from rocks, broken tiles and bangles. I remember taking long walks along Sukhna lake and stopping to see groups of large white, ducks! Beautiful place. It is one of the cities I would love to visit again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have not heard of Chandigarh before this. The Rock Garden is fabulous, I’m surprised I have not seen it on Instagram. Would love to see how the light flows on the Tower of Shadows.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would love to travel to Chandigarh and see what it’s really like! There seems to be plenty of spots to go to and learn from. I admire their concept of adopting the human body as the design of the place. The Rock Garden rocks! Now, people can benefit from the work of Nek Chand.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! I did not realize that there is so much to see and do in Chandigarh. Thank you for sharing the list of the popular attractions. We would love to visit the Rock Garden and the lake.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Chandigarh is so close to my place and I have yet to visit. Loved the way you shared the places of interest there. I would surely visit someday in the coming month to explore Chandigarh

    Liked by 1 person

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