Chandigarh, the first planned city in India, is known for its Punjabi culture and food. The city has both a traditional and a modern feel to it, with a neat architecture that might be familiar to western travelers. The city is not huge and is not crowded with options, which makes this the perfect place to relax and wind down for travelers coming to India because the country can often be overwhelming with all the choices it offers. Famous among North Indians as a short getaway, the city also acts as a starting point when traveling to relaxing hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. One day in Chandigarh should therefore be used as well as possible. Here’s how!
Indian summers are infamous for being hot, so the best time to visit Chandigarh is during the winter months, from October to February. The temperature can range from 8 degrees to 25 degrees Celsius. Days are fairly sunny, but mornings and evenings can be a bit chilly. Despite that, this period is definitely the ideal time to explore this beautiful city.
The city was designed by the architect Le Corbusier, and its name is derived from the temple of Chandi Devi. Chandigarh – “Chandi”, the warrior and the goddess of power, and “Garh” means fort.
Chandigarh is a union territory and a capital city of two states – Punjab and Haryana, which means you can feel the culture of both the states in one place. The city is divided into 47 sectors, but there is no sector 13 because Le Corbusier believed the number 13 to be unlucky.
Breakfast at Brothers Amritsari Kulcha Hub
Start your day with some delicious Punjabi breakfast. Indulge in hot and crispy Amritsari Kulcha with spicy Chole and tangy tamarind chutney and, of course, a tall glass of Lassi, which is mandatory if you are in Chandigarh. If you are going on a weekend, the chances are this place will be crowded, so you will have to wait. You can enjoy a cup of masala chai while you are waiting because it is an established fact that chai and cold weather go hand in hand.
Find Le Corbusier’s works
Le Corbusier, otherwise known as Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, is the architect very much responsible for how the city looks today. In fact, many architects come here just to study his work.
If you would like to do the same (and you should, even if you’re not an architect), Capitol Complexis definitely something you shouldn’t miss because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the Secretariat Building, the Tower of Shadows, and the Palace of Assembly are all relatively close to that.
Finally, you can also visit the Le Corbusier Center, a museum where you can find a whole lot of fascinating details about the way the master architect worked. It also sheds light on the fascinating process of creating a whole city.
Make your way to Sukhna Lake and Rock Garden
Take a car or a taxi to your next destination – the beautiful Sukhna Lake. This place is always bustling with tourists. The best thing here is going for a lazy boat ride. You can opt for a paddleboat, a rowing boat, or a Shikara ride, and the cost would be around INR 50 – INR100.
If you are still not full from breakfast, there is a cafe called CITCO Cafeteria, with both indoor and outdoor seating to munch on snacks and drinks.
This place also has the longest rowing channels in India that host Asian Rowing Championship.
Marvel at the Rock Garden
After that, head to your next destination, which is hardly a kilometer away. Rock Garden was built by Mr. Nek Chand, a former road inspector in Chandigarh. It is a massive open-air exhibition with sculptures made from waste material.
There are figurines and animal sculptures made from broken terracotta pots, tiles, glasses, mirrors, tube light pieces, and even broken toilet pots. There is a huge waterfall and amphitheater, a perfect place to click pictures, but you might have to fight to get space because this area is always crowded. The creativity of this place is something everyone should experience at least once.
Time to Shop at Elante Mall
If you are coming to Chandigarh, you simply MUST visit Elante Mall, famous among both locals and tourists. It is a massive mall with many shopping options like clothes, gadgets, jewelry, and home decor. You can find everything under one roof.
It also has a massive food court with a variety of cuisines to offer. This is a perfect place to hang out with friends or family. Even if you are not in the shopping mood, you definitely should visit this place just to click pictures with the “I Love Chandigarh” sign placed outside the mall.
Take Blessings at Gurudwara Shri Teg Bahadur Sahib
No better place to calm your mind than a gurudwara. If you are not familiar, a gurudwara is a place of worship for Sikhs, and it literally means “Guru’s Door”.The tranquil and positive energy of a gurudwara can warm anyone’s heart.
Make sure to cover your head, take off your shoes, and wash your hands before entering inside. You can sit and listen to the beautiful Gurbani playing in the background. Don’t forget to take the kada prasad, which is made from flour, sugar, water, and a lot of ghee.
After that, you can enjoy the langar as your lunch. Langar is a free vegetarian meal offered at every Gurudwara. People from all religions, castes, and economic backgrounds sit together in a hall and eat.
If you want, you can also offer your service for distributing the langar, washing utensils, or cleaning the area.
Visit the Rose Garden
Chandigarh has many beautiful gardens. One of them is the famous Zakir Hussain Rose Garden, named after the former President of India. If you are traveling at the end of February, you are in for a treat. The flowers are in full bloom at this time.
A rose festival is organized from the end of February to the beginning of March. There are more than 800 varieties of flowers and around 30,000 varieties of trees and medicinal plants. They also host several competitions and cultural events.
You can wind down and stroll around. There are also misty fountains in between the garden, perfect for those touristy pictures.
Experience the local market
Just 2 km from the Rose Garden, you can experience the hustle and bustle of the Shastri Market. Famous among the shoppers, you will find dozens of shops and sellers on the streets selling the traditional Phulkari Dupattas and beautiful Juttis.
If you are a jewelry lover, this is a perfect place to buy chunky oxidized jewelry and more elegant and dainty pieces, as well.
Do not forget to indulge in some Gol Gappa while you are here. You can try any seller; they are all amazing. Head over to Garg Chaat shop to try more Indian street food like Dahi Bhalla, Tikki, Bhel Puri, and Pav Bhaji. But please save some room for the next destination.
Dinner at the famous Pal Dhaba
If you have some space left in your tummy, you really should miss out on Pal Dhaba. Don’t expect some fancy ambiance. This place is more about food than decor. As soon as you enter, you will see a wall with pictures of Bollywood celebrities who have visited this place because it is that popular.
It was established in 1968, and they are still standing strong. You can try a variety of Indian food, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
If you are confused about what to order, you can also order a thali, which basically means a large plate. You will get dal, curry, naan, rice, and salad in this thali. Make sure to order a lassi on the side because you need another glass before you end the day.
Where to stay in Chandigarh, India?
Block No 9, Sector 17 A, 160017 Chandīgarh
Taj Chandigarh is a luxury, five-star hotel in Chandigarh in the very center of the city. Therefore, you can easily travel anywhere. Sukhna Lake, Rock Garden, and Elante Mall are only a few kilometers away. They have a rooftop pool here, a garden, and even a mini-golf course. The location is perfect for travelers.
Sco 58-61, Sector 8C, 160008 Chandīgarh
Hotel Icon is a comfortable option for staying. They have a spa and a fitness center inside the hotel. You can also hire a hotel car to go sightseeing. The Chandigarh airport is only 6 km away. All the famous places can be easily reached from here, and the sector-17 market is also nearby if you want to check it out.
Plot no 20, Baltana road Zirakpur Chandigarh., 140103 Chandīgarh
Hotel Athens has several important advantages to offer its guests. First, it is very close to the beach, and the Rock Garden is not far, either. Second, it is fairly affordable, and you can find a room here at a reasonable price. Oh, and the food is great, so you will enjoy your continental breakfast here very much.
The Diamond Ring
SCO 240, Sector 45 SCO 240, Sector 45 Chandigarh, 160047 Chandīgarh
Should you be traveling on a budget, The Diamond Ring is a great place to look for accommodation. Everything is very clean and very well maintained, so you can expect a very pleasant stay. The restaurant is on that same high level, and it even has a vegetarian menu to offer. Parking spaces are also available for hotel guests.
If you are planning on staying in India for a few more days. You should extend your one day in Chandigarh so you can visit a few more places nearby. There are some great day trip options very close by.
Morni Hills, just 45 km away from the city, is a popular spot among people in Chandigarh for a nice quick getaway.
This is also a must-visit if you enjoy birdwatching. You can see a whole lot of fascinating and beautiful birds in their habitats, so you certainly won’t be disappointed.
There are two interconnected lakes and remains of the Morni Fort, which can be found close to the hills. If being surrounded by nature sounds like heaven to you, definitely add this place to your list of day trips from Chandigarh you have to make.
Kasauli, located in the Solan district, is a town with beautiful grand Victorian buildings built by the British.
This town is the birthplace of the famous Indian author Ruskin Bond and has inspired many of his stories. Therefore, the fans of this writer will definitely want to take a stroll here.
There is a famous temple of Lord Hanuman, situated at Manki Point, but be aware that there is also a 500m stairs climb to reach the temple. The hike has the most picturesque view, one of the main reasons people visit this place.
There are a few snack stalls along the way, and here you can enjoy Pakoras, Maggi and Chai.
- Make sure to carry woolen clothes, it can get fairly cold at night.
- Be aware of street vendors who might overcharge; it helps to have a local person with you.
- Always carry extra cash because street vendors don’t accept cards.
- If you are not Indian and cannot tolerate spicy food, carry some medicines with you, and you can also go to cafes like Nik Bakers, Café Mocha IT, and JC’s Cafe for lunch and dinner.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Yukti Sood is a Freelance Content Writer based in India. She is passionate about reading, writing and travelling. Her love for writing has pushed her to pursue a career in writing. Follow her on Twitter to know more about her endeavours.