My nephew’s wife, Sharon, has an uncle in Chandigarh. Her uncle, Jasbir, and his son, Angad, have given me much advice during this trip, as has Sharon. I’m very grateful to all three. Without their advice, my trip would have been very different.
I spoke many times to Jasbir during my trip. His sense of adventure has been infectious. His help during the early planning stage was especially influential.
I had met the family briefly during my nephew’s wedding. So it was a great pleasure to stay with them, even though they teased me mercilessly about being a teetotal vegan! Punjabis like their meat and the odd tipple 😉. I will long remember their home cooking (thanks Neela!).
We arrived a bit weary and received a warm welcome from them. We were touched by their incredible hospitality and generosity. And when we had a touch of Delhi Belly (literally from Delhi), Neela called her doctor and got antibiotics and other medication at 10pm. This was for Helene, who was a stranger until a few hours earlier. Neela and family looked after us and gently fed us back to full health. As if that wasn’t enough, they helped us plan the next stages of our journey.
Chandigarh’s main attraction is the Rock Garden. This curious and intriguing place was created using the waste material that was used to build Chandigarh itself.
Unusually, Chandigarh is a planned city, designed by the architect Le Corbusier. Apparently, he modelled the city on the human body, with a head (government buildings), heart (city centre), lungs (leisure valley, open/green spaces), the intellect (cultural/educational institutions), the circulatory system (network of roads) and the viscera (industrial area). The concept of the city is based on four functions: living, working, care of the body/spirit, and circulation. The BBC said, “Of all the world’s ideal cities, Chandigarh has done remarkably well, offering striking monumental architecture, a grid of self-contained neighbourhoods, more trees than perhaps any Indian city and a way of life that juggles tradition with modernity.”
Also unusual is that Chandigarh is the capital of two states, Punjab and Haryana, without being part of either. Instead, it’s managed by the government.