A Travellerspoint blog

Chandigarh, India

Refreshingly open and calm

sunny 100 °F

While traveling through India, we have noticed that roads just disappear, open drains (yes, sewage) run along the sides of roads, electric lines and water pipes form networks that look more like art, and the list goes on and on. When we arrived in Chandigarh (a city that was designed by Le Corbusier), we were greeted with divided two lane streets lined with trees, maps, road signs, parks, and best of all… sidewalks! It was a strange feeling of peacefulness in a chaotic country. The shops were in proper buildings so the sidewalks were free to walk on without being constantly accosted to buy something and the people were genuinely interested in conversing with us. At this point in our travels we considered this a luxury town and we arrived in style on a fully air-conditioned train from Delhi that served breakfast, bottled water, tea and coffee with the daily newspaper. It was a HUGE upgrade from our previous jail cells on the sleeper class trains (Robin loved every minute and was sad to arrive in Chandigarh, just 4 hours later).

Trying to keep sorted, our first task after entering Chandigarh was to book our bus out! This required heading to the Sector 22 Local Bus Terminal and talking to the information center, which was as always, absolutely NO HELP (although the man working there asked us if we wanted to take his picture haha). We pretended not to have a camera and escaped on a bus out to the Sector 43 Inter State Bus Terminal to find more info on busses to Dharamashala. Everyone we talked to had a different idea of when the Dharamashala buses left town so we decided to just arrive at 6am in the morning and hope that we didn’t have to wait too long for a bus. Along the way home we met the first of many extremely nice ambassadors of this city… this guy gave us a map and some sort of flower:

Walking around the town square we were struck with how we felt as though we were back in civilization; the stores were constructed in an organized fashion, and there were authentic brand outlet stores, a theater and a large grocery store with peanut butter! Best of all there was no traffic, no honking, and no dust in our face. We stalked up on groceries and then noticed the “Indian Coffee House.” With only a small sign outside the door and clouded windows, we didn’t know what to expect. After the initial shock of how full it was inside, we navigated through the busy waiters and quickly sat at the only available seats left in the whole place. We ordered from guys in funny hats by pointing to a huge menu written on one of the walls.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a food stand right next to our hotel with an all vegetarian menu. We were super excited for our first take out meal in India, which we ate on our bed in the comfort of our plush aircon unit! We had some food that we’ve never seen before including $2 Thali (a dish made up of several small dishes) and vegetarian “meat on a stick” that wasn’t actually meat….

We also picked up a bottle of Old Monk (Indian Rum) and a can of Thumbs Up (Indian Cola) so we finished off the meal with some cocktails.

Chandigarh is home to a ridiculous Rock Garden that started off as a small personal project of Padam Shree Nek Chand that ended up getting turned into a city backed project. The garden path weaves through objects and statues that are made of industrial and urban waste including recycled terra cotta pots, broken ceramic pieces, old wrist bangles and all kind of other junk. The Rock Garden lacks any theme other than ‘stuff’ but was totally cool and fun to hang out in. There are even big kid swings! One of the highlights in the Rock Garden was when a group of university students swarmed Robin for pictures.

P.S. Luck was on our side when we showed up for that bus at 6am… it left about 30min later!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 06:04 Archived in India

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Sounds like you had a great time there, a refreshing moment back in something resembling the "first world." It's amazing how you two always seem so fresh and open to the experiences that chance brings you...

by David Kessler

That veggie "meat on a stick" looks like an ugly tongue depressor that you could gag on. Hope you got me one of those souvenir waiter hats!

by Harry Strharsky

What, they didn't swarm Kevin for photos too? This definitely proves who the better looking one of you two is...

by Jeff Chun

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