Chandigarh offers an array of sightseeing options for travellers. Some of the not-to-be-missed sights are the Rock Garden and Zakir Rose Garden.
The administrative centre, or Capitol Complex, which is an architectural delight was built in Sector 1 on the northern extremity of the city, with the Shivalik range as the backdrop. Le Corbusier designed the complex as a grand expression of the strength and unity of modern India.
One of Chandigarh’s best places to visit is the Rock Garden, created with curiously shaped pebbles and industrial and domestic waste. Created by Nek Chand, it is spread over 25 acres and is 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 every year, a Rose festival is held in the garden.
Other sightseeing places in Chandigarh are the Government Museum and Art gallery, which are a part of the cultural complex in Sector 10. The Museum houses some valuable ancient sculptures, including the standing Gandhara Buddha wearing layered robes, with distinctive Hellenic features. There are also some interesting displays of terracotta heads from the 1st and 2nd centuries BC and prehistoric fossils.
The Art gallery exhibits miniature paintings and also showcases contemporary Indian artists, including Rabanindranath 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 day. The International Dolls’ Museum has collections from 25 countries, while the Fine Arts faculty in the University has a national gallery of portraits.
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.
Take a sightseeing tour to the Leisure Valley, extending eight kilometres across the city. It has been developed into different theme parks. People come here to exercise, practice yoga and horse riding, picnic, or just take a stroll. There are jogging tracks, a tennis stadium, an open-air theatre, and a sculpture park within the stretch.