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Sightseeing in Chandigarh

The administrative centre or Capitol Complex was built in Sector 1 on the northern extremity of the city, with the Shivalik range in the background. Le Corbusier designed the complex as a grand expression of the strength and unity of modern India. Many critics, though, have called it a concrete monstrosity, which is showing early signs of decay.

One of Chandigarh best known tourist spots is the Rock Garden , a fantasy land created with curiously shaped pebbles and industrial and domestic waste. This Rock Garden, created by Nek Chand, is spread over 25 acres next to the Capitol Complex. Nek Chand visualised this imaginary world of gods and goddesses, kings, courtiers and palaces, which he went about building single-handed. For seven years he scoured the Shivalik foothills to collect interestingly shaped stones, building a collection of some 20,000 which he arranged around a tiny hut.

The Zakir Rose Garden, spread over 27 acres of the green belt, is one of the largest such gardens in Asia. It has more than 17,000 plants, with 1600 species of roses, other flowering and medicinal plants and landscaped fountains. In early March, a Rose festival is held in the garden.

The Government Museum and art gallery are part of the cultural complex in Sector 10. The Museum houses some valuable ancient sculptures, including the standing Gandhara Buddha wearing layered robes and with distinctive Hellenic features. There are also some interesting displays of terracotta heads from the 1st and 2nd centuries BC and prehistoric fossils. The gallery exhibits miniature paintings and also showcases contemporary Indian artists, including Abanindranath Tagore, Roerich and some Sikh paintings. Besides the main museum, there is the Museum of Evolution of Life, that records 5,000 years of Indian civilisation from the Indus valley to the present. The International Dolls’ Museum has collections from 25 countries, while the Fine Arts faculty in the University has a national gallery of portraits.

Visit the Sukhna Lake, a manmade lake cited as one of the desired picnic spots among the locals. According to the original plans, the bed of a seasonal rivulet running through Chandigarh was converted into a green belt called the Leisure Valley . Le Corbusier envisaged this stretch as a place where residents would come to rejuvenate their spirits. Extending 8 kms across the city, the Leisure Valley has been developed into different theme parks. People come here to exercise, practice yoga and horse riding, picnic, or just stroll down the walks. There are jogging tracks, a tennis stadium, an open-air theatre and a sculpture park within the stretch.

The Sukhna Lake , a 3 square kilometre artificial water body created by damming the Sukhna Choe, is a favourite picnic spot. The lake has facilities for boating, yachting, rowing and water skiing. It also hosts the Asian rowing championships every year. A 2 km. path on top of the dam encircles the lake. The lake has been declared a protected national wetland, where migratory birds like Siberian ducks, storks and cranes nest in winter. In summer, residents participate in an annual de-silting operation to keep the lake bed clean.


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