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.
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 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 constant flow of which is often said to assault the senses, and can be overwhelming to foreign travelers.
Chandigarh is also a very secure city. With the lowest crime rates in the country, you can feel safe at any hour.
The political position of Chandigarh is quite ambiguous for anybody not knowing the city well. It is the capital to two northern Indian states Punjab and Haryana besides being a union territory in itself. The birth of this modern, youngest and vibrant city was an act of anguish and drama that took place at the time of partition of India and Pakistan. Lahore, the historical capital of Punjab was ceded to Pakistan and Chandigarh was conceived to be a symbol of India's freedom.
The government of the state decided to build a 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 renowned Swiss born, French architect Edouard 'Le Corbusier' Jeanneret who created Chandigarh as a city of "Sun, Space and Verdure" to fulfill basic functions of working, living, and care of body and spirit. It is the first planned city in independent India. 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.
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 hasnt 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. Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh (also known simply as Chandigarh High Court) has original as well as appellate and supervisory jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana. 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. Finally, the east zone, which is the industrial area of the city. Chandigarh is one of the few planned cities in India, the others being Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Bhubaneswar in Orissa.
In 1966, the Hindi-speaking areas were split from the Punjabi speaking areas of the state to form a new state of Haryana. Chandigarh, however, continued to be the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. In a strange anomaly, the city itself was not made part of either state to avoid any dispute but instead brought under direct rule by the Central Government as a union territory. It was agreed 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 it.
The basic geographical and demographic profile of Chandigarh is as under:
Tickets cost between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000 (from Delhi, including taxes) for most of the airlines.
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:
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.
Chandigarh is served by two bus terminals.
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 Haryana State Transport service allows you to book the tickets to Delhi, IGI Airport and Gurgaon online 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.
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 at 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. 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 Rs. 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 Rs 10/ One Trip Rs 25/ Half a Day Rs 50/ Full Day Rs 75/
For Booking contact : Citco Tours & Travel Wing, ISBT, Sector 17, Tel: 2703839.
Uber and Ola operate in the city and it is very easy to get an uber. There are many private local taxi services in the city like Chandigarh car rentals Black Taxi India, Hiway Cabs, Guru Taxi Service Chandigarh, Amy Cab Chandigarh, Gagan Taxi Service Gill Taxi Service. The private taxi operators can be located at Taxi stands in the Commercial market of every sector.
UT administration has authorized many taxi service operators who offer a fully air-conditioned cab service. The cabs are available at the doorstep 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 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 [Delhi to Chandigarh Taxi] are continuously monitored through GPRS technology whereby their locations are monitored by their respective control rooms.
There are no charges for the first KM except for the meter down charges. Rate Rs. 15/- for the first kilometer and Rs. 15/- for the subsequent kilometers.
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. These autos cost Rs. 25/- for first two kms and Rs. 6 for subsequent km. The service named as "Jugnoo" is available round the clock. Available on call at +91-9023-121-121 or through the "Jugnoo - autos on demand" app on android and iOS stores.
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.
PedalChandigarh offers bicycles on rent and cycle tours of the city in the morning as well as in the day. You can follow the cycle path to Leisure Valley, Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake apart from the Capitol Complex and the Garden of Silence. Available by email at [email protected] Also you can check their webpage at www.pedalchandigarh.blogspot.in
Chandigarh byCycle offers guided bicycle tours of the city in English and French. The tours are 2-3 hours long and cover the must-see sights on geared and well-maintained bicycles. The local perspective of the guides offers a more personal account of Chandigarh. The tours steer clear of traffic by using dedicated cycling lanes.
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. The correspondence between the Punjabi officials overseeing the construction of the city, and the Federal Government in Delhi is fascinating, and well worth taking a few minutes to read.
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,(PVR: Elante Mall )in Phase 1 Industrial Area ,(Piccadily Square: Chandigarh) sector 34 are new upcoming entertainment malls also easily accessible in the city. Many others malls and multiplexes are coming up in Chandigarh and around soon.
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.
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.
Chandigarh has evolved into an education hub for competitive exams. Thousands of students from nearby states of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh attend coaching in Chandigarh. The city has delivered excellent results in recent years in all spheres especially the IIT-JEE, CAT, CBSE-PMT and the Civil services.
Chandigarh is also home to several renowned centres of higher education:
Opportunity is available to work in the growing IT and BPO industry in the city. Newly built IT park had been set up in the city which has proved to be a magnet for potential job seekers in this field. Satellite town of Mohali is also home to several IT majors like Infosys, Altruist Technologies, SoftProdigy, Webart Softech , Dell Inc. and more to name. Most of the population here is employed in Government Services with administrative headquarters of all departments of the government of Punjab and Haryana being situated in Chandigarh.
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 Sector 22 (especially rehri market), 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.
You can relish all type of cuisines from local Punjabi flavors to Continental cuisine.
Nearly all major Western fast food chains have registered their presence in Chandigarh. pal dhabha in sector 28 swarn dhabha in sector 30 best chicken in city Indian coffee center in sector 17
Apart from these, a variety of restaurants can be found in the Sector 35 market, ranging from traditional Indian sweetshops (Gopal's) to burger joints like Mcdonald's to formal dine-in joints.
For a true Indian Coffee experience go to Indian Coffee House in Sector 17. Barista, Cafe Coffee Day and Costa Coffee are also popular Indian chain of coffee shops that can be found in Chandigarh at various places.
Chandigarh possesses a posh nightlife scene which does full justice to it's status as a Metropolitan city and a focal point for Punjabi culture. One can enjoy a good drink with music at various pubs/bars with combined restaurants at Sectors 9, 35, 26, and Sector 17, apart from others. The bars remain open till 12 or 1 in the night.
Bed and Breakfast
The Chandigarh Administration has launched a bed and breakfast scheme for accommodating more tourists in Chandigarh. This scheme provides a reasonable and comfortable alternative to tourists and visitors in the city.The residential premises registered under this scheme are registered as establishments under two categories Gold and Silver. Rooms are available at Rs.900/- and Rs.700/-. Details. The scheme apparently has been canceled for the year 2009 by the district administration due to violation of the norms
Lodgings in central Chandigarh are notoriouly overpriced, and the expense is generally not matched by quality improvements. Don't be surprised to be asked over 1000 rupees/night for a dingy room without windows in sector 22. As a Union Territory, both Federal and State taxes can be added to your bill (approx. 18%).
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 rupees/night in this area, after some haggling, and there are many hotels to choose from.
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 to add 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 Rs 15-Rs 30 per hour.
Major Cyber Outlets:
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.
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.
List of major hospitals and health care centres:
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 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.
There is a strict enforcement of traffic rules in Chandigarh. Wearing helmets (for male riders ISI Marked), driving under the speed limits, driving without drinking and using seat belts are compulsory. Violators pay heavy penalties. No exceptions to these rules are made to cars from outside the state.