Chandigarh

Location of Chandigarh

Chandigarh is India's first planned city, quite distinct from the rest of the country and considerably better organized. 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.

Understand

Le Corbusier's Open Hand

The most striking thing about the city is the expanse of resplendent blue sky with the mountains in the backdrop. When you approach the city, you 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 from Chandigarh) from which the city got its name.

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 chaos of the rest of India. Chandigarh is also a very secure city. With the lowest crime rates in the country you can feel safe at any hour. Enjoy the planned city, with tree lined roads, large beautiful roundabouts, several gardens and on top - a great set of people. Chandigarh and Mysore are considered the cleanest two cities of India.

History

When India was partitioned, Punjab was split into two, with the western half going to Pakistan. Lahore, the historical capital of Punjab was also ceded to Pakistan and Chandigarh was conceived of as a symbol of India's freedom, and a new beginning for Punjab.

The government of the state decided to build the new city at the foot of the Shivalik hills. Architects Albert Mayer and Mathew Novicki drew the initial plans in New York. When the latter died in an air crash in 1950, the work was entrusted to the French architect Edouard 'Le Corbusier' Jeanneret who created Chandigarh as a city of "Sun, Space and Verdure", to fulfill the basic functions of working, living, and care of body and spirit. Today, the city is home to more than 900,000 people living in harmonious conditions that are considered to be the best in the country.

Le Corbusier's Secretariat Building

One can see architectural genius in the neat geometrical design of residential quarters, reinforced concrete structures and self-contained area layouts. Chandigarh is divided into 47 self-contained sectors. Each sector of the city is designed with its own shops, academic, and health care buildings, and places of worship, open spaces, greenery and the residential areas. Chandigarh is one of the best planned cities of India. Roads are pretty wide and spacious. It hasn't grown in a haphazard way as some of other Indian cities have. The city is divided into four major work areas. In the north, the capital complex, consisting of the Secretariat, Legislative Assembly and High Court, with the hills as a background dominating the city. Sector 17, which is the city and district centre, houses the administrative and state government offices, as well as shopping malls, banks and other offices. The west contains the university, and institutions of engineering, architecture, Asian studies and medicine. The east zone is the industrial area of the city. In 1966, Hindi-speaking areas of Punjab were split from the Punjabi speaking areas of the state to form a new state of Haryana. Chandigarh continued to be the capital of both states. This was supposed to be a temporary measure. The plan was that in 1986, the city would pass to Punjab. But this has been indefinitely delayed because Haryana insists on getting some territory in return, and the two states have not been able to agree on the area that should go to it.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 21 23 29 35 40 40 34 33 34 32 28 22
Nightly lows (°C) 7 9 14 19 24 27 26 25 23 17 11 7
Precipitation (mm) 50 35 33 7 16 59 282 260 177 41 8 17

Source: Weather2Travel

Chandigarh has a humid subtropical climate (Cwa) with extremely hot summers and warm to mild winters. The rainy season is in the middle of the year, although the rest of the months are not completely dry.

Get in

By plane

Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, GoAir and MDLR Airlines connect to the city.

Indian Airlines, GoAir and Jet Airways offer direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi. Tickets cost around ₹3,000 (from Delhi, including taxes) for most of the airlines. AirAsia has recently started a direct flight from Bangalore.

Chandigarh has an attractive and pleasant domestic airport about 8 km (5 mi) from the city centre. The airport will be upgraded to an international airport, possibly as early as July, 2015.

By train

There is frequent service to and from New Delhi. The popular trains connecting New Delhi include Kalka (Chandigarh) Shatabdi Express (twice daily) 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 the following:

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 :

There are many car rental companies available. If you are traveling from Delhi, you can book a cab from a number of travel agencies present in various nook and corner of the city or you can book a cab just a call away. Traveling by smaller vehicles like Indica is the most common mode of cab transfers on this route. The highway is pretty scenic.

While it is good to take the cabs for travel on this route in summers, it should be avoided in winters due to heavy fog. Dec -Feb are winter months in India. Chandigarh, being situated in laps of mountains, faces heavy fog in night and early morning. Sometimes the visibility on roads get reduced to less than six feet in such times

By bus

Chandigarh is served by two bus terminals.

The   New Inter State Bus Terminus, in Sector 43,  +91 172 2624413. provides connectivity to all major destinations in the neighbouring states Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Jammu, and Delhi (limited).

The Inter State Bus Terminus in 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 min 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.

Get around

By bus

The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) provides local bus service in Chandigarh and satellite towns of Panchkula and Mohali. There are two local bus terminals at Sector 17 and at Sector 43. The bus service is frequent and efficient and runs from 6AM-10PM. It is very economical with a single point to point fare of ₹10 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 ₹10/ for a single trip.

The buses with corresponding routes can be found here.

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 flexibility to see the places of interest and spend as much time as he wishes at a particular spot of choice. It starts its journey from Hotel Shivalikview in Sector 17 near the Bus Terminal.

Fare: Point to Point ₹10/ One Trip ₹25/ Half a Day ₹50/ Full Day ₹75/

For booking, contact Citco Tours & Travel Wing, ISBT, Sector 17, Tel : 5055462, 2703839.

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 GPS 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 ₹15/- for the first kilometer and ₹15/- for the subsequent kilometers.

Many new cab services like OlaCabs have also begun there operation in Chandigarh and satellite towns of Panchkula and Mohali.

By auto rickshaw

Cycle Rickshaw in Panjab University

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 ₹10/- for 1st km and ₹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.

See

The Palace of Justice(Punjab and Haryana High Court)
Sports in The Open Hand's shadow
Pinjore Gardens
Statuettes at the Rock Garden
The Rose Garden
Sukhna Lake

Do

Movies

The city has several cinema halls with the classical single screen format. Catch a movie at any one of the halls, all of which are air conditioned and well maintained.

The city has more than a dozen malls with 4 or 5 screen multiplexes. Some of these are Fun Republic(Fun Cinemas) in Manimajra, DLF DT Cinema in IT Park, Green House Entertainment(Big Cinemas) and Centra Mall(PVR Cinema) in Phase 1, Industrial Area. Big Cinemas at Downtown Mall, Zirakpur on Chandigarh-Punjab border and Fame Cinemas at Shalimar Mega mall are new upcoming entertainment malls also easily accessible in the city. Many others malls and multiplexes are coming up in Chandigarh and around soon.

Theatre

The city has a rich theatre culture with regular performances by societies and groups from all over India. Tagore Theatre in Sector 18 plays host to most of the performances. One can view these street plays in PLAZA CARNIVAL situated in sector 17 Main Market, which can be viewed by everyone.

Amusement and water parks

Buy

Chandigarh, with the highest income per capita in India, is home to some of India's biggest brands. Hotspots for higher-end shopping include markets in Sector 17, Sector 22, Sector 35, and Manimajra. However, shopping is typically more expensive in Chandigarh than it is in other cities, including big cities such as Delhi.

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 that houses all the major brands and shops that cater to wide array of taste and pocket.

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

If you want to bargain hard for usual stuff, try the Azad Hind Market in Sector 22 but note that it is closed on Monday.

You can buy souvenirs in the form of coffee mugs, shirts, etc. at Sukhna Lake.

Eat

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

Budget

Many Western fast food chains have registered their presence in Chandigarh.

Mid-range

Apart from these, a variety of restaurants can be found in the Sector 35 market, ranging from traditional Indian sweet shops (Gopal's) to burger joints like McDonald's to formal dine-in joints.

Splurge

Drink

Coffee shops

Barista, Cafe Coffee Day and Costa coffee (Panchkula, Sec 35) are popular Indian chain of coffee shops that can be found in Chandigarh at various places.

For a true Indian Coffee experience go to Indian Coffee house in Sec 17

Bars and pubs

Chandigarh is often accused of a dull nightlife for its status as a metro. Still, one can enjoy good drink at various pubs/bars with combined restaurants at Sector 35, Sector 26, and Sector 17. The bars remain open till 12 or 1 in the night.

'Condom Bar', a unique bar themed upon the condom, is operated by CITCO at Kalagram, Chandigarh-Manimajra road.

Sleep

Budget

Lodgings in central Chandigarh are notoriously overpriced, and the expense is generally not matched by quality improvements. Don't be surprised to be asked over ₹1000/night for a dingy room without windows in sector 22.

There is a number of budget housing options (of price and quality comparable to typical Indian cities) located in the large market area of sector 45. The area itself is considerably more "Indian" than the central districts, with its narrow winding streets and a strong community feel. As of February 2013, you should aim at ₹500/night in this area, after some haggling, and there are many hotels to choose from.

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

STD code for Chandigarh is 0172. When calling from overseas, dial +91 172 XXXXXXX. The same STD code is shared by Panchkula and Mohali. If you have a non-working phone number with only 6 digits, try adding a "2" in front of it.

Chandigarh has one of the highest cellular density in India. The city is served by all major cellular operators : Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance, BSNL, Tata Indicom, Docomo, Virgin, Spice, and Connect. The cellular connection provided covers the cellular network of state of Punjab and city limits of Panchkula district in Haryana.

If you do not have an Indian phone number, it is strongly recommended that you get a pre-paid calling card if you plan on using your phone frequently. Because of new government regulations, you need a photocopy of your passport (visa and the ID pages), a colour photo, and proof of local address (in Chandigarh) when buying a pre-paid card. Pre-paid cards are sold in a few of the shops that sell mobile equipment.

PCOs are a good option. You will find them almost every 100 m. These are public pay-phones (post-pay) and there will be a person on the shop to take the payments. Check your bill generated (from the billing machine) and make the payment accordingly. Payments are always in Indian rupees (₹).

Internet is cheaply and easily accessible via various cyber cafes operating in every corner of the city with rates ranging from ₹15-₹30 per hour.

Major Cyber Outlets:

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 such as 0172 in front of the emergency numbers. This is true in any other Indian city.

Cope

Balance

India is often said to assault the senses, and can be overwhelming to travelers. 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.

Hospitals

List of major hospitals and health care centres:

Pharmacies

Pharmacies are dime a dozen and you should not have any problem locating one, though Sector 16-C is considered the "pharmacy district" and offers a variety of shops to find your medication. You do not need any prescription for Modern Medicine Over the Counter drugs and ayurvedic medicine (proprietary and traditional), which are available for most common ailments like fever, headache, travellers' ailments, general infection, etc., but you will need prescription for other medicines, which are categorized as Schedule H drugs.

You can locate 24-hour pharmacies at PGI and G.M.C.H., Sector 32.

General amenities

General amenities for daily living like grocery shopping, laundry etc. can be availed all in one place in every sector's market complex. Each sector is self sufficient in that regard and serves almost all the needs of its residents.

Traffic rules

There is a strict enforcement of traffic rules in Chandigarh. Wearing helmets (for male riders ISI Marked), and using seat belts are compulsory. Violators pay heavy penalties. No exceptions to these rules are made to cars from outside the state.

Press

The city has an expansive presence of leading national dailies which roll out their City-based editions. Among these are The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Tribune, The Indian Express, Amar Ujala (Hindi), and Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi). The Tribune, one of the oldest print newspapers in circulation, has its headquarters in Chandigarh and is popular throughout the region.

Go next

Nearby

Farther afield

Set aside some time to visit the nearby hill stations of Kasauli, Solan or Shimla.

Sarson blooms at Prakriti Farms, a rural & traditional Punjabi farm-stay.
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 19, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.