Chandigarh India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Chandigarh, the capital of both Haryana and Punjab, is a prosperous urban city, pulsating with life. It is a place characterised by ingenious urban planning, large-scale city parks, thriving bazaars and shopping malls, cultural events, festivals, superb restaurants and plenty of leisure activities. This modernist metropolis is an enticing tourist destination and one that provides some much-needed respite from the constant chaos typical of the rest of India.
Why go to Chandigarh
Chandigarh is the first planned city of independent India, a vision of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru executed by Le Corbusier, the world-renowned French-Swiss architect who was set the task in 1950.
The city is famous for its grand boulevards, lakes, gardens and imposing public buildings set in tranquil surroundings of a luscious, green landscape. Chandigarh is clean, comfortable and cosmopolitan and offers a welcome break from the hustle and bustle that defines most Indian cities. It is a thrilling tourist destination, famous for its cultural events, fabulous restaurants and eateries, open green spaces and standout architectural monuments.
The city of Chandigarh is a must-see attraction in itself, its reinforced concrete architecture and wide tree-lined roads, superb botanical gardens, and wacky museums are some of the best tourist attractions you will come across in India. Being a union territory and the capital of two states, Chandigarh also offers a unique hybrid of cultures, cuisines, customs, and people. The city is divided into Sectors. It’s worth remembering that most of the shopping and dining venues are located in Sector 17, while a vast majority of hotels are to be found in Sector 22.
When to go to Chandigarh
Chandigarh has a subtropical climate, which is characterised by very humid and hot summers, cold winters, frequent rainfall and changeable weather. The best time to visit Chandigarh is between mid-March and November when the weather averages around 29°C.
Where to stay in Chandigarh
Being a prosperous capital city, Chandigarh is relatively expensive and so is most of its accommodation. A vast majority of tourists hotels are located in Sector 22, which has good transport links and local amenities and sits less than 10 miles away from the railway station and the airport. In this sector of the city, you will find a great number of purpose-built hotels offering contemporarily furnished large, spacious rooms with attached bathrooms, hot water, TVs, laundry, housekeeping and room service. Hotel facilities tend to vary from place to place but overall most hotels in this Sector are very efficiently run and managed and have in-house restaurants, bars, spas, conference rooms, airport shuttle services and free parking, 24-hour front desks and multilingual staff. The cheaper hotels offer less in term of in-house amenities but have pretty high standards of service and cleanliness compared to most other cities in India.
Where and what to eat in Chandigarh
The Chandigarhians are renowned for their love of food thus there are numerous eateries, restaurants and dining venues across the city. A lot of these offer a vast selection of cuisines, which range from traditional Punjabi cooking to burger joints, Italian, Chinese, South Indian, North Indian and fast food eateries. You will find a particularly impressive selection of restaurants in Sectors 17, 26 and 35. Chandigarh's local cuisine is heavily influenced by traditional Punjabi cooking, which uses generous amounts of ghee, oil, butter, chilies, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and onions. The local food in Chandigarh is very flavoursome and very spicy and is usually followed by lassi, buttermilk or curd. Bread and wheat-based products are generally preferred to rice. Meat, as well as alcohol, is widely available within the city. You will find some excellent tandoori houses and drinking venues in sector 17. We recommend you don’t leave Chandigarh before sampling some spicy boti kebab at Punjab Grill (Sector 17-C) or Indian sangria at the uber-swish Zinc Lounge in Sector 26.
How to get around Chandigarh
The city of Chandigarh is vastly spread out, therefore, it is almost impossible to get around it on foot.
Buses are the cheapest and most efficient way to travel from one Sector of the city to the next. A bus fare costs around INR5 per km.
Autorickshaws are a good alternative, you will find prepaid stands behind the bus and railway stations (Sector 17) as well as Nek Chand’s Rock Garden in Sector 1. Rates vary but generally, INR100 will get you to most destination within the city.
There are 24-hour taxi stands outside larger hotels in Sectors 17, 22 and 35. The going rate for a taxi is about INR20 per km, but we suggest you agree on a price for your journey before setting off.
The city of Chandigarh boasts numerous bicycle paths and parks, made for cycling. Some hotels offer bicycles free of charge to paying guests. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle from Chandigarh’s Tourism office which will set you back INR200 a day.
How to get to and from Chandigarh
Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, and IndiGo operate daily flights from Mumbai (INR8000) and Delhi (INR4000) to Chandigarh. The airport is just over 6 miles south of Sector 17. To reach the main city you can hire a taxi for around INR300 or get a rickshaw, which will set you back around INR100. Some of the most popular destinations from Chandigarh include Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Allahabad, and Chennai. The airport also has regular flights to Bankok (Air India) and Dubai (IndiGo), which cost around INR12000 and INR14000 respectively. For the best airfare deals, we recommend you book in advance or online well ahead of travelling.
A number of local companies operate buses from the Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) in Sector 17. Please note, however, that buses to Anandpur Sahib and Amritsar leave from the bus stand located in Sector 43. There’s a great number of buses that travel from Chandigarh to various destinations within the country. Some of the most popular are Amritsar (seven hours, INR250), Dharamsala (eight hours, INR350), Manali (11 hours, INR500), Shimla (four hours, INR200), Haridwar (six hours, INR200) and Delhi (52 hours, INR800).
Train ticket reservation office is located on the 1st floor of the bus terminal in Sector 17. We advise you book your tickets in advance by visiting the office, which is open all week from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, excepts Sundays when it closes at 2:00 pm.
There are regular daily trains from Chandigarh to Delhi, which take just over 5 hours and cost around INR1000 (2AC). Other popular destinations include Amritsar which takes over four hours and costs around INR450; Jaipur, which takes about 12 hours and costs INR1250(2AC); Goa, which is 36 hours away and costs around INR3000 (2AC); Mumbai, which takes over 26 hours and costs INR2500 (2AC); Lucknow, which is about 11 hours away and costs INR2500 (2AC); Kolkata, which takes over 30 hours and costs INR2600 (2AC); and Shimla as well as Manali, which are just over 2 hours away and cost around INR400. The city of Chandigarh has good local transport, and railway links to most major cities in India as well as to the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Is Chandigarh a safe place to visit?
The city of Chandigarh is one of the safest capitals in the country, both in the daytime and at night. It also has police patrolling booths in every Sector of the city, sufficient street lighting throughout and very low crime rates. We do recommend, however, that you travel sensibly and remain vigilant at all times.