Are you planning to visit the happiest city in India? Yes, that’s the title earned by Chandigarh. The capital of Punjab as well as Haryana, Chandigarh is a Union Territory and is also nicknamed ‘The City Beautiful’. When a city has earned accolades like that, you know it has a lot to offer you. It was India's first planned city and you can see the culture and rich history of the city in the iconic work of Le Corbusier when you visit. The modernist buildings that make up the Capitol Complex were also granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2016.
Chandigarh has become a tourist capital of Punjab in recent years with thousands of tourists visiting the city every year. No matter what you’re looking for, Chandigarh should definitely be up on your list of places to visit in India. Keep reading our brief Chandigarh travel guide that will help you understand what things you can expect from the city that has something for everyone.
After the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, the province of Punjab was divided into two parts. The western part along with its capital was granted to Pakistan while the eastern part to India. Since the part of Punjab that was in India did not have a commercial and administrative capital, Chandigarh was presented as its capital city in 1948. The city was then planned by Le Corbusier, Jane Drew, and Maxwell Fry, assisted by other Indian architects. The city took about a decade to complete and in the 1960s about 21,000 people from 58 villages were relocated here.
Chandigarh was still a Union Territory that was constituted on the 1st of November 1966. Since it shared its border with both Haryana and Punjab, it was attributed as the capital city for both states while still remaining a union territory. It wasn't until 1986 that the union territory of Chandigarh was to become part of Punjab. The mostly Hindi-speaking areas of Fazilka and Abohar, which are also the agriculturally productive areas in the city, were to be transferred to Haryana. But, this plan is still under dispute and hasn't come to any conclusion.
Chandigarh is a very lively city that borrows its traditions, cultures, and rituals from both Punjab and Haryana. It has an amalgamation of both state cultures mixed into a lassi of its own. You can see this mix in its cuisine, culture, folk dances, music, and even the festivals it so loudly celebrates. You have the humble and kind people of the city devouring the spicy Punjabi food and finding their weaknesses in desserts and milk products.
The City Beautiful celebrates many festivals all year long and they celebrate them with the proper traditions and rituals. Some of the most important festivals celebrated by the people of the city are Gurpurab, Lohri, Dussehra, Baisakhi, Karva Chauth, and Diwali. All of these festivals are celebrated with utmost enthusiasm and spirit. Alongside these festivals, the city also celebrates a number of folk dances like Julli, Sammi, Jaago, Jhumar, Dankara, Gatka, Giddha, Luddi, Dhamal, Teeyan, Kikili, and Bhangra. These are folk dances that Chandigarh has borrowed from both Haryana and Punjab.
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Chandigarh is well connected with its neighboring cities and states via airways, roadways, and railways. You can get to the city using these modes of transportation:
The Chandigarh International Airport is well connected with Indian cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Ahmedabad, etc. But it also has international flights coming in from Bangkok and Dubai. This airport is just a few miles from the city and there are regular bus services and taxis available that you could board to get to your destination.
Chandigarh has the Chandigarh Junction Railway Station (CDG) which is the railhead of the city. It has both long-distance and short-distance trains running through on a regularly scheduled basis. It has daily trains running from Mumbai and New Delhi, and cities like Lucknow, Jaipur, Chennai, and Bangalore have trains coming in on a weekly basis. CDG also has short-distance trains coming in from Shimla, Panipat, Ambala, and a few more nearby stations.
If you're planning a road trip to Chandigarh, you can access the city from its well-maintained networks of expressways and highways. You can take a car or even book your seats on a bus that comes in from neighboring cities. Some of the major arterial roads that connect with Chandigarh are Khuda Lahore Road, Sukhna Path, Shanti Path, Jan Marg, and Ambala - Chandigarh Expressway. You can follow any of these roads to travel to and from the city.
Besides, the Chandigarh Bus Terminus is where you can gain access to the city via both public and private buses. Chandigarh Transport Undertaking and Volvo A/C buses are the two major systems that you can consider to get access to the city. You can pre-book your seat or even just get a ticket at the bus ticket counter if you like.
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The weather in Chandigarh is not the most favorable throughout the year. The winters can be too cold and summers come with unbearable heat. Not to forget are the unpredictable showers in the monsoon season. This makes after the monsoon and the onset of summer the ideal time to visit Chandigarh.
The months from mid-September to November are when the monsoon is subsiding and the weather is pleasant. The months from February to April are when the summers are about to start. These are the best months for visiting Chandigarh as the weather is perfect for you to enjoy the beauty of the city to its fullest.
You can go out and about exploring the city and visiting the tourist places while also soaking in the natural aesthetics of Chandigarh. During these above-mentioned months, the weather is neither too cold nor too hot. The month of February has the Rose Festival which also makes it a very popular time for tourists to visit the city.
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One way to get around the city is by using the local bus transportation services. You have the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) providing local bus transportation in the city. You have these buses running from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm every day. They cover both long and short distances within the city and run in a timely manner. The fare to get to any destination is starting at just INR 10 for a single route. The bus rides are hassle-free and also very comfortable. You'll only have a rush during the peak working hours in the morning and evening.
Traveling by private taxi is very convenient if you want to get around and visit a few places. You can get a private taxi from any of the commercial places in the city. Recently the UT administration introduced the AC private cab which has been very convenient for tourists. You can book a taxi and have them come to your doorstep. The ride is convenient, you get to hire a taxi for the entire day, and it's also a pocket-friendly option.
Chandigarh has a radio auto service that runs throughout the city. The auto-rickshaws are pink in color and usually cost INR 10 for the first kilometer. After the first, the meter charges INR 8 for the additional kilometer. It's the only Union Territory in the country that has a radio auto service. You can get these rickshaws anywhere in the city and it’s available all throughout the day and night. Locally, these rickshaws are known as the tuk-tuk.
One other way you can explore the city is by riding bicycles. You get bicycles for rent in most parts of the city at a minimal rate. So, if you're interested in exploring the city in your own time, visiting the local places and hidden gems, renting a bicycle is the ideal way to explore the place like a local. You can simply ride along the roads and explore the local markets to also get a peek into the city’s culture.
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"Chandigarh is a low-key city with nothing much to explore."
People mostly regard Chandigarh as a city that has not much going on. But that in fact is not true. The festivals in the city are one of the prime reasons why people visit the city so often. The Mango Festival, Navratri Festival, and the Rose Festival are popular ones among tourists. You also have the iconic work of Le Corbusier in the modernist buildings spread across the city that you can visit and explore. Besides, the food in the city is enough reasons for you to get out and explore.
Your trip to Chandigarh is incomplete without visiting the famous Rock Garden. It's a very good sculpture garden that has big sculptures made out of rocks and waste. The sculptures are really the highlight of the garden, but it is also full of unique art pieces in every corner. The garden has a minimal entry fee of INR 20 and is open on all days of the week. It's a place that you can enjoy visiting with your friends, family, and even solo. You will thoroughly enjoy the garden and will surely be mesmerized as well by the intricate details of the sculptures and the beautiful nature that surrounds it all. So make sure you visit the Rock Garden and get some memorable photos too!
Nada Sahib Gurudwara is the most important landmark in the city that has also been a center of religion and spirituality. It is one of the most visited Gurudwara in the city by locals and tourists alike. You can get to the Nada Sahib Gurudwara from anywhere in the city in just a few minutes. This is one place that people visit to step away from their busy life and spend time in peace and divinity. The soothing chants and the gorgeous architecture will take your breath away. You can visit the Gurudwara anytime during the day, but the evening and sunrise time is the best time to visit.
The National Gallery of Portraits is one of the unexplored places in the city. It was established in 1977 and was recently renovated in 2007. It has an extensive collection of several archives, portraits, sculptures, books, and paintings that are related to the Independence Era of India. So if you're interested in knowing more about the Independence Era or are just curious about history in general, you’ll surely enjoy visiting the museum.
Even though the museum is well managed and curated by the state government, it is yet to be explored by most tourists visiting here. So, you can just visit the museum any day of the week and have a look at the collection here. The tour guides will give you a detailed tour of the museum and some insights into the history of our country when it was fighting for independence.
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Is Chandigarh Safe Travel?
Yes, Chandigarh is a safe city to visit for all travelers. The City Beautiful has also earned the title of being the ‘Happiest City in India’ and is a popular choice among people who want a new city to call home. However, it’s always advisable to be aware and roam in groups, especially during the night or when passing through secluded areas.
Is Chandigarh Worth Visiting?
Chandigarh is one of the most beautiful places to visit in India. You have good food, amazing architecture, parks, museums, and gardens that you can visit. You can take some long walks around the city and visit the blissful gurdwaras as well. So, overall, Chandigarh is definitely worth visiting.
How Many Days Are Sufficient For Chandigarh?
When visiting Chandigarh, about 2 to 8 days are enough to explore the city. If you have the time and are interested in exploring the city to its core, a week-long vacation is a good enough time. But even 2 days are enough if you just want to explore the important touristy places.
Which Is The Most Famous Place In Chandigarh?
Chandigarh has an array of places that you can visit. Some of the most popular places that you should not miss out on are Nek Chand’s Rock Garden and the National Gallery Of Portraits.