AChandigarh, the capital of Punjab and Hariana is the vision of Le Corbusier, a French-Swiss modern architect. After India’s independence, Prime Minister Jawhar Lal Nehru assigned the task of designing to Le Corbusier. With Corbusier’s thoughtful and modernist design it later became the symbol of newly independent India. It is called’ The City Beautiful’ for its well-designed parks, gardens, and public amenities with plenty of places to visit. Chandigarh is the ideal specimen of balancing urbanization with nature. Seemingly outrageous combination of concrete and nature is blended here masterfully. Despite being the most planned city in India, this city still holds on to its friendly village vibes.
Apart from architecture, Chandigarh is famous for its cleanliness, hospitality, serene gardens, foods, and festivals. As the city is divided into different sectors, it is quite easy to maneuver from place to place. Due to its high altitude, Chandigarh can be visited at any time of the year. If you want to attend the festivals it will be wiser to plan your visit around October to March. Here is a list of the top 30 places to visit in Chandigarh that might assist you with your plan to travel.
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Top 30 Places to Visit in Chandigarh, India
1. The Rock Garden
The rock garden of Chandigarh is the brainchild of an Indian road inspector, Nek Chand. He created this garden in 1957 with just scraped material- broken porcelain, glass bangles, bottles, tiles, and electrical waste. This garden of forty acres displays creatively designed sculptures made entirely from recycled waste. This is one of the most popular places to visit out of the others as over 5000 people visit this gem of a place daily. This place will make you marvel at the wondrous combination of rough-textured sculptures and soothing manmade linked waterfalls.
2. Sukhna Lake
Want to float in a serene lake surrounded by lush greenery with the mighty Shivalik range in the backdrop? If yes, then Sukhna Lake is your place. This 3 km long channel was created by damming Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream from the Shivalik hills. This reserved wetland is the habitat of migratory birds- cranes, storks, Siberian ducks. Sukhna lake offers some water sporting activities- boating, yachting, and water skiing. Motorboat in this lake is strictly prohibited, so the visitors can soak up all the serenity without the added noise.
3. Rose Garden
Rose Garden is the place where you can gawk at 825 types of flowers all at once. It is also a must-visit place out of this top 30 places to visit list. This 30 acres garden contains 1600 species of plant. Visiting the carved-out lawns and neatly designed flower beds, you will certainly appreciate the effort of the founder, Dr. M.S. Randhawa. This garden is truly a mesmerizing place with blooming vibrant flowers with the misty mountain at the distance. If you’re a nature lover, be sure to spend at least 1-2 hours of your time at this flower paradise.
4. Pinjore Garden – Chandigarh
This beautiful specimen of Mughal garden is a place that you don’t want to skip out of many other places to visit here in Chandigarh. These 100 acres of lush greenery have Mughal style fountains, pavilions, and downward sloping terraced gardens. Imagine being in a magical place where you walk down the pavilion and suddenly a whole 100 acre garden with fountains and water channel opens up beneath you! The slopping downward thing does the trick, providing you a view of the whole garden at once. This garden also has a mini zoo, plant nursery, and open-air theater. To visit this vibrant garden, you have to travel 20 km from Chandigarh.
5. Chandi Mandir – Chandigarh
Chandi Mandir will definitely spike your interest, as the name of the city came from this temple. This temple is a dedication to Chandi (the goddess of power). Thousands of people visit this temple during the Navaratri festival. 15 km away from the city, this temple is situated along with the Shivalik range. You have to do light trekking as it is a mountainous area. As the temple is located in a restricted military area, you may have to take permission to visit.
6. Mohali Cricket Stadium
If you’re a cricket fan, you probably know about Mohali Cricket Stadium. Inaugurated in 1993, this stadium can host 26950 spectators at once. This stadium has a health club, swimming pool, tennis court, indoor and outdoor cricket practice net. This is the home to Punjab cricket team- Kings XI Punjab. This enormous cricket ground bears witness of many legendary matches. If you want to get closer to a place where history has been made, head out to Mohali Cricket Stadium.
7. Leisure Valley
Leisure Valley is an 8 km long stretch that connects 12 unique gardens. Before the transformation, it was an eroded valley with dirt and pollution. Le Corbusier transformed it into a linear green belt with views and greenery, to provide a breathing space for the city people. Needless to say, his plan worked out so well, it has become one of the most sought after relaxing places in Chandigarh. This part of the Chandigarh city hosts an annual festival in February known as Chandigarh Carnival.
8. Open hand Monument
Standing 25m tall at the Capitol Complex of Chandigarh city, the Open Hand monument is the symbol for the government of Chandigarh. Le Corbusier masterminded this sculpture of a gigantic hand to symbolize that people of Chandigarh are open to receive and open to give. It spreads the sense of optimism in this catastrophic world. The hand can rotate with the wind, thanks to the ball bearing above of it. This rotation symbolizes the true meaning of life- constant change. This monument, the only political portrayal of Le Corbusier is definitely a must-visit among the top 30 places to visit in Chandigarh.
9. Terraced Garden – Chandigarh
Terraced Garden is as the name suggests, is a stepped garden. This popular tourist attraction has been in function since 1979. This 10-acre garden provides a moment of peace to people of all ages. One popular feature of this place is the lighted musical fountain. In the evening this place comes alive with tunes of folk song and mingling tourists. This garden is not merely a sight to the sore eye but also adds to the vibrant nightlife of Chandigarh.
10. Government Museum and Art Gallery
Government Museum and Art Gallery in sector 1, is the house of Indian history and partition. A famous French architect Le Corbusier designed this museum in 1947. In four divisions it displays Indian Art Gallery, Natural History Museum, architecture museum and National Galley of portraits. It has a rich collection of Rajasthani miniature paintings, Gandharan sculptures, and artifacts. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 PM visitors can enjoy a sound and light show.
11. Capitol Complex
Chandigarh may seem like a paradise to any architecture buff. Right at the center of this paradise is the classic architecture specimen of Le Corbusier, Chandigarh Capitol Complex. It was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2016. This concrete masterpiece contains High court, Secretariat and Vidhan Shabha for Punjab and Haryana state. The bold geometric lines, the clashing of bright red, yellow color with bare concrete, the gigantic upturned cupola will surely make you appreciate the mastery of the creator. You can only visit this place by being part of a 90-minute tour with guidance. There are some sculptures in this premise- the open hand sculpture, the tower of shadows, and the geometric hill.
12. International Doll Museum
Chandigarh International Doll Museum, with its 250 types of exotic dolls, is an absolute heaven for doll lovers. Even those who are not a fan of this inanimate object will get a kick out of visiting this place. Established in 1985 primarily to entertain kids, this place is now a hub for doll lovers of all ages. The museum has four sections- international, Indian, activity center and history of dolls. There is a toy train depicting a German railway station which is quite popular among tourists.
13. Ellante Mall
Ellante mall at Chandigarh industrial area offers shopping, food court and entertainment under one roof. Spreading across 20 acres of land, it is the largest mall of Chandigarh. This four-storied mall contains showroom for high-end designer brands, sports bars, bowling alley, movie hall and so on. In a sense, it is the cultural and entertainment hub for Chandigarh. You can visit this place to get a sense of Chandigarh’s nightlife.
14. Lalit Kala Academy – Chandigarh
Lalit Kala Academy is the cultural hub of Chandigarh. This multidisciplinary gallery and exhibition space buzzes with the footfall of art lovers of all kinds. Events and exhibitions are held daily here. The establishment of this Academy with a view to promoting the arts of Punjab and Haryana. Lalit Kala Academy holds exhibitions on different visual arts like painting, sculptures, photographs, graphics, ceramics, and installation art. This gallery does not merely hold exhibitions of renowned artists, but also promotes the budding young artists. To get an insight into Punjabi and Haryana art, you should check out the exhibitions here.
15. Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary
Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place for bird watching in Chandigarh. This is the home of 150 species of birds like- Cuckoos, hornbills, Nightjars, kingfisher, Golden Oriole, peacock, and sparrows. The vast 2600 hectares area of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is also the home of a wide range of mammals, reptiles, and micro-organisms. Wild boar, Spotted Deer, Common-Mongoose Pangolin, Sambar, Rhesus Monkey are a common sight in this sanctuary. The sanctuary only allows 200 visitors a day.
16. Japanese Garden
This Japanese themed garden is located in sector 31. This 13-acre garden depicts Japanese art, culture, and plants. There are pagoda, meditation hut, statues of Buddha, small ponds with connecting bridge and Zen garden. According to Japanese belief, the pagoda with its five tiers symbolizes five elements of nature-wind, water, fire, earth, and sky. Opening in 2014, this park has gained huge popularity for its exotic themed concept and design. The garden remains open all day, but at night it becomes ethereal with the illumination from the Japanese lantern.
17. Topiary Park – Chandigarh
This is a child-friendly park. If you want to see some green, leafy, stoic animal you can visit Topiary Park. The plants, bush and creeper shaped like an elephant, horse or other animals certainly make Topiary Park enjoyable to kids. This park has a collection of exotic and ornamental plants that will spike your interest. Establishing in 1987 this park is quite popular among children and families.
18. Chhatbir Zoo
It is the largest zoological park in Northern India where you can see lions roaming free. Home of 950 animals and birds, Chhatbir Zoo provides a perfect picture of the ecological harmony of Chandigarh. 85 different species roam here in 202 acres lush greenery. The main attraction, you can see the Royal Bengal Tiger from a caged motor vehicle while the stunning creature saunters lazily in its territory. The animals are separated from one another with large moats.
19. Garden of Silence
Garden of Silence marks the end of the Sukhna Lake. Out of many other places to visit in Chandigarh, this place is a much sought after place for relaxing. Its Zen-like atmosphere is enhanced by the central dominating statue of Lord Buddha. The concentric stairway leading down the central space provides a sitting provision for tourists and joggers. The grassy area is the play area for children. It has a meditative space where the city residents can enjoy a calm and contemplative time. If you walk down the jogging track, you can get a stunning view of Sukhna Lake.
20. Nangal Wetland
100 km away from Chandigarh, Nangal wetland is a sanctuary for birds and aquatic creatures. Located in the sleepy town Nangal, this sanctuary is surrounded by Sutlej River and majestic hill tracks. This 6 km long lake was created by the Nangal dam. After the construction of the Bhakra dam in the Sutlej River in 1955, this place became renowned all over Chandigarh. This sanctuary of 40000 migratory, exotic birds is quite popular among tourists and nature lovers. You should not miss out on the chance of bird watching in stunning Nangal Wetland.
21. Center Le Corbusier – Chandigarh
While visiting Chandigarh you would certainly want to know more about the designer in the city. Center Le Corbusier at sector 19 gives you the opportunity. It was the office of Le Corbusier when he was working on the Chandigarh project. In 2008, it was opened as a museum so the public could know more about the history of the city and its creator. You can see the documents, sketches, models, paintings, photographs, and letters unfolding the politics behind Chandigarh projects. Center Le Corbusier will unveil the process and the history that has molded present Chandigarh.
22. Nada Shahib Guruddawra
Nada Shahib Guruddawra is the religious center for Sikhs. This place is located 15 km away from Chandigarh, at Panchkula district by the bank of Ghagar River. Guruddawara has the main shrine with domed structure, pilgrim’s quarter and Guru’s quarter, all centered around a spacious courtyard. Every month a festival is celebrated here on the full moon. People from all over northern India come to celebrate. This place will give you an insight into the life and philosophy of Shikhs. You will surely be charmed by listening to kirtan in this peaceful place.
23. Butterfly Park
Apart from other places to visit in Chandigarh, you should take an hour out of your time and go see the Chandigarh Butterfly Park in sector 26. This 7-acre park is the home of 35 species of butterflies. This park I adorned with plants and flowers to accommodate the butterflies like- Ape fly, common blue Bottle, Commander, Angled Castor and so on. The best time to visit this place would be from March to October. You won’t get to see these colorful creatures the rest of the year as they remain in hibernation.
24. Fitness Trail – Chandigarh
As the name suggests, the Fitness trail is a place for long walks and physical activities. This 94-acre trail has its 52-acre area covered with vibrant seasonal flowers. To add more to the charm of this park, sculptures from renowned artists are installed here. This place is a real combination of scenic beauty physical exercise. People of all ages gather here to work out or to just soak up nature. Many cultural events are held here due to its popularity.
25. Cactus Garden
Cactus Garden in Panchkula is considered the largest garden in Asia, especially for rare and unique species. This 7 Acre garden has a variety of 2500 cactus and succulent. Other than cactus, there are different Aloe plants like Aloe Speciosa and Aloe Ferox. You can buy plants from here for your own collection. Starting in 1987 this place has become quite a heaven for botanists and nature lovers.
26. Museum of Evolution of Life – Chandigarh
The Museum of Evaluation of Life in sector 10 is the best place for evolutionary learning. Starting in 1973, the museum is very popular as this type of museum is rare in India. This museum displays the evaluation of earth, evaluation of microorganism, animal fossil, dinosaur’s replica and so on. The paintings and murals depicting the evaluation of life are very informative. The museum has a special segment for astronomy, biology, archaeology, botany, and history.
27. Mansa Devi Temple
Mansa Devi Temple is a Hindu temple 11 km away from Chandigarh, in Panchkula district. This popular Hindu pilgrimage is a dedication to Mansha Devi. This 100-acre premise has two temples- one was built by Maharaja Gopal Singh in 1815 AD. Patiala maharaja Karam Singh built the other one in 1840. The architecture style of the temple follows a usual Mughal style with domes and minarets. This style sharply contrasts with traditional Shivalik architecture style which includes curvilinear spiral ‘Nagara’. The arrangement of Navarata happens here every year. These nine day-long fairs result in a huge gathering of people from all over Northern India. Out of many places to visit in Chandigarh, this place is a must-visit.
28. Chandigarh War Memorial – Chandigarh
Chandigarh War Memorial is located at Bougainvillea garden, sector 3. This memorial is regarded as the largest war memorial in India. It was designed to keep the memory alive of those soldiers from Punjab and Hariana who laid their lives defending India. This memorial was constructed completely with citizens’ initiative without any government funds. Designed by two architecture students from Chandigarh, this monument is surprisingly well balanced with Le Corbusier’s vision of Chandigarh city. This monument consists of a central sculpture and spiral ramps with black granite panels. The granite panels bear the name of 10500 martyrs. The central sculpture with its three arms depicts the three-armed forces of India- the air force, the army, and the navy.
29. Punjab University
One of the finest campuses in India, Punjab University is located in sector 14, Chandigarh. This self-contained campus was established in 1882 and was split between India and Pakistan in 1947. This 222.5 hectares campus is vibrant with the footfalls of 14000 students. This campus features the cylindrical-shaped student center and the Gandhi Bhawan designed by Pierre Jeanneret, a cousin of Le Corbusier. In addition, the student center cafeteria is also famous for its food and the panoramic view of the campus. Moreover, Punjab University also houses a museum of fine arts.
30. Children Traffic Park – Chandigarh
Children Traffic Park is a unique place to make children aware of traffic rules with some fun by its design. This was designed by separating a portion of Leisure Valley in sector 23 and forming mini roads and intersections. This 12-acre park is an ideal learning ground for traffic and road safety rules for kids. The signs and characteristics of this park are just like any regular vehicular road. Though designed for the kids, people of all ages can visit this park. Apart from this, there is also an exhibition hall and a theater of 120 capacities in this Children’s traffic park.
India may seem as over-populated and chaotic to most tourists. Chandigarh is quite the contrary in that sense. As well as that, this planned city with many places to visit and its quiet harmony of man and nature will make you think twice. This city is sited as ‘a city ahead of its time’ for its forward-thinking design. With this collection of places to visit, you should pay a visit to Chandigarh and be captivated by the serenity of its nature and people!