Thursday, January 28, 2010

Treasures of Chandigarh

Chandigarh turned out to be very different from what I had expected it to be. I knew that the city had strong historical importance, especially during the India-Pakistan partition. As the capital of Punjab and Haryana, I thought it would be similar to other major cities in India, like Chennai and Delhi - noisy, very crowded, curious looks from the locals...somewhat chaotic. Much to my surprise, I found the city to be rather quiet with people minding their own business. I could also see that generally, the people from this area were better off than those in most parts of India.

As I entered Chandigarh from Shimla, the first thing I noticed about the city was its roundabouts. Chandigarh is full of roundabouts, and has roads that are neatly laid, making traffic easier to control. In fact, I encountered so many roundabouts that I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't in France, which is famous for its roundabouts. Well, there is a reason why Chandigarh is designed like a French city. It's because the city was planned by Le Corbusier, a famous Swiss-French architect.

The first place I visited was Pinjore Gardens, which is situated on the Chandigarh-Shimla route, and is about 20km from Chandigarh. This garden is apparently popular amongst young adults, and lots of people come here to picnic. Unfortunately, the park didn't appeal to me that much, and so I proceeded on to my next stop - Nek Chand's Rock Garden.

While I am not crazy about artificial parks, I found Nek Chand's Rock Garden to be quite fascinating. This park is mostly made up of recycled materials and offers visitors the chance to reflect on their own recycling habits. I was pretty amazed to see statues that were made out of broken toilet bowls and tiles, broken bangles, and lots of other things one would just throw away without a second thought. Seeing these different statues definitely made my visit very interesting and I could see that it was very popular among kids. What a great way to entertain them while teaching them the importance of recycling!

After visiting this garden, I stopped by Lake Sukhna for a short stroll. Lake Sukhna is an artifical reservoir that was also created by Le Corbusier, and is a popular area for locals to go jogging, enjoy paddle boat rides and just spend their afternoons chatting away. Again, visiting this place gave me an idea of how people from Chandigarh spend their free time, and it was quite fun to watch them.

My final stop in Chandigarh was the International Doll Museum, which features dolls in different costumes from all over the world. The section I enjoyed most was the Indian brides one, where dolls were dressed in their traditional bridal clothes from each state of India. Seeing these dolls representing different states in India only reiterates how rich Indian culture, customs and traditions are. I can't think of any other country that is this diverse! While admiring these beautiful dolls, I was naturally drawn towards the Iyer doll dressed in its 9 yards saree. It reminded me of myself, hehe!

On the whole, Chandigarh surprised me with its modernity. Although it was not a highlight for me, I still had a good time, and hope that I will be able to spend more time there in the future. My day in Chandigarh came to an end and I bid farewell to lovely Punjab as I boarded my Shatabdi Express to go back to Delhi for the night, before proceeding to Agra. Be on the lookout for my next entry on this truly wonderful city!


DVD said...

The musuem is great !!! The park is a little weird, but when you think back it is actually quite funny to visit it ;-)

banoo said...

When we were in US, I juz met a Punjabi woman, (beautician)who hailed from Chandigarh. When she described Chandigarh, I could see the twinkle stars in her eyes and she missed so much her hometown. She asked me to visit Chandigarh and she would await for my comments, one day! I don't whether I would meet the same lady...but the park, and the roudabouts seem tobe interesting; moreover I really respect Punjab as most of our militants who protect our India are from Punjab. The doll with 9yards look beautiful.

SirBV said...

> I really respect Punjab as most of our militants who protect our India are from Punjab.

Something doesn't seem right with this bit.

DVD said...

My dear Bhattoos Kutty...

I think what she meant was soldiers, not militants...Hope your doubt has now been clarified!


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