The Definitive Weekend Itinerary For Chandigarh

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Photo of The Definitive Weekend Itinerary For Chandigarh 1/1 by Prateek Dham
Credits: Ramnath Bhat

Chandigarh is nicknamed, The City Beautiful, and beautiful and serene it is. The city is one of the earliest planned cities in India post independence, and it is renowned, even internationally, for being brilliantly organised. Being a predominantly Punjabi settlement, the city is known for being open-hearted and fashion-savvy. Locals, though high-nosed sometimes, are unfailingly helpful. It's this beautiful melange that makes Chandigarh a truly unique city.

Because it's a tiny city with an area of 114 square metres, it can easily be explored on a weekend. So for the next time you are here, I'm giving you one itinerary that you can bank upon to experience Chandigarh to the fullest.

Day 1

Arrive in Chandigarh

If you drive to The City Beautiful from nearby cities, it's most likely that you will stop for breakfast somewhere on the highway. But in case you plan on stopping in the city, here are two satisfying breakfast options.

Breakfast

OvenFresh's coffee is what gets students up in the morning. Credits: TheGiantVermin

Photo of Oven Fresh, Sector 26, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

OvenFresh is one of the oldest cafes in town, and now it has two more branches in the city. It's a hygienic and inexpensive joint to begin your day with. The city's students swear by its Garden Fresh Pizza and sizzlers.

How much: Rs. 650 for 2

Where: SCO 437 & 438, Sector 35 C, Sector 35, Chandigarh

Phone: 0172 667095

Back Packers Cafe's sunny side up is a treat! Credits: Malingering

Photo of Back Packers Cafe, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

Almost always packed, Back Packers Cafe is a recent addition to the culinary scene in the city. Their lasagnes are filled with vegetables and the shakes are thick; they don't compromise on any dish on the menu. This cafe is another favourite with the students, thanks to its hospitable staff as well.

How much: Rs. 1,200 for 2

Where: SCF 16, Inner Market, Sector 9 D, Sector 9, Chandigarh

Phone: +91 8437041459

Check in to a hotel

In case you don't have a place booked already, you can check out these hotels in the city depending on your budget and need.

Go sightseeing

Once your tummy is happy and you have a nice roof over your head, you can rest for a while before freshening up and going to explore the city.

Credits: Rishabh Mathur

Photo of Sukhna Lake, Sector 1, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

Classified as a lake, but a reservoir in geographical terms, Sukhna Lake is a three-square-km large water body at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is Chandigarh's most-visited tourist place and is full of tourists and natives alike on pleasant afternoons and evenings. Sukhna has something for everyone. While the serious walkers and runners pursue their daily exercise regimes here, families can be seen picnicking or strolling around with eatables in their hands.

You can go boating with your lover, or birdwatch, or just walk around and relax.

Credits: Akash Malhotra

Photo of Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

The second major tourist attraction on the Chandigarh sightseeing itinerary is Rock Garden. Also known as Nek Chand's Rock Garden after its founder, the garden is spread over 40 acres near the Sukhna Lake. The USP of the attraction is that all displays are made out of scrap and industrial waste, such as bottles, bangles, ceramic pots, glasses, pipes, etc. Creations include an artificial waterfall, monuments and lots of sculptures of dancers, animals and musicians. The garden is visited by almost 5,000 people everyday.

Dinner

Lots of walking and exploring will definitely result in a hungry stomach. Here are the best two options for dinner in Chandigarh.

Rarra Chicken at Swagath is a favourite with the families of Chandigarh. Credits: Umami

Photo of Swagath Restaurant And Bar, Madhya Marg, Sector 26, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

Swagath Restaurant & Bar is a quintessential "there's something for everyone" kind of a place. Families can sit together and have a hearty North Indian meal here, while friends can drink and make merry without much dent to their pockets. Locally, it's a very popular place to throw parties at. Try their Rarra Chicken, it's out of the world.

How much: Rs. 1,600 for 2

Where: SCO 7, Madhya Marg, Sector 26, Chandigarh

Phone: 0172 5002626

No occasion? Make one! Credits: NABOBS Cafe and Pub

Photo of NABOBS Café & Pub, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

If you're in the mood to sit down comfortably at a good place and drink after a long day on the road, NABOBS Cafe and Pub could be your best bet in Chandigarh. It's a pub with a nice ambience, and is not too expensive either. With a pint of beer costing Rs. 160 including taxes, you know you can rely on this place for drinks and finger food till the wee hours.

How much: Rs. 1,400 for 2

Where: SCS 2, Inner market, Sector 9 D, Sector 9, Chandigarh

Phone: +91 7087973293

Day 2

The Day of Chill

Honestly, a tourist's Chandigarh education ends in a day. But if you're looking to completely experience the flavour of the city, you need to witness what the locals do and where they eat. And hence, day 2 is the day of chill.

Breakfast

You have an option each depending on what kind of traveller you are.

The great buffet. Credits: The Cafe

Photo of JW Marriott Hotel Chandigarh, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

This is for the kind of traveller who likes to splurge on the best restaurants of each city he visits. The Cafe at JW Marriott is a prime example of fine dining in Chandigarh. Besides its great breakfast spread, the hotel is popular for being a favourite with the who's who of the city for their Sunday brunches. From starters to salads, from tikkas to oriental, everything is top notch here and is even presented this way.

How much: Rs. 2,300 for 2

Where: JW Marriott Hotel, Plot 6, Dakshin Marg, Sector 35 B, Sector 35, Chandigarh

Phone: 0172 3955555

The divine bhature. Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of KATANI DHABA, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

..aaand this place is for the second kind of traveller who cannot leave without trying the authentic flavours of a city. Chole bhature is a staple breakfast in Punjab, and Katani Dhaba is one of the most popular joints for this dish. You can also try the stuffed paranthas and piping hot tea for an absolutely fulfilling experience.

How much: Rs. 300 for 2

Where: SCO 265, Sector 35 D, Sector 35, Chandigarh

Phone: +91 9815200970

Chilling time begins

As promised, I will suggest places that truly define the feeling that is Chandigarh.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Panjab University, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

This is where the intellectuals, scholars, future revolutionaries and leaders, and fashionistas of the city converge at. The very famous Panjab University campus is where the vibrant youth are at their most comfortable, because this is where they spend their two years most productive and liberating years. From dilapidated hostels to broken-windowed libraries, from the basic canteen to the private eateries, everything is designed to fulfil the requirements of the college-going students. The Student Centre here is unanimously addressed as "Stu-C", which is basically just a cooler short form conjured by the fast-food generation. Once you are inside the campus, you can't help but reminisce about your own college days.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Sector 17, Chandigarh, India by Prateek Dham

From Honey Singh to Jimmy Shergill, almost every celebrity hailing from Punjab has confessed to their love for Chandigarh's "Sector 17". This sector's market enjoys massive popularity amongst the youth of the city because it is full of branded showrooms. Although mainly known for the clothes on sale, there is really nothing that you won't find in this stylish market, which holds a special place in pop culture. You have to visit it to feel it.

Head back home

Well, that's the end to the Chandigarh itinerary then. It is better to leave by evening if you're driving back, else you can always take a flight at night.

Ever been to The City Beautiful? Liked it or hated it? Tell us by reviewing the city here.

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