Manuela arrives in Chandigarh

You will remember that my friend Manuela arrived in Delhi from Colombia. Now she leaves Delhi to live in Chandigarh the capital of Punjab! She describes her leaving of Delhi and experience of Chandigarh in her own words. An interesting account.

Proving why Chandigarh IS the City Beautiful

Even thought India is becoming a really popular destination for people from all over the world, not a lot of travelers know about Chandigarh. Of course you’ve all heard about chaotic Delhi; Mumbai and Bollywood; the Holy city of Varanasi; Jaipur, the pink city; and all those ‘European’ paradises spread over the huge country like Shimla -also known as ‘the little Switzerland’- Pondicherry -‘the little France’- Kasol -the unnamed Israeli territory- and Goa, the party destination, where you can see the entire world hanging out together, especially on its famous Christmas and New Year’s parties… Would I make it to Goa on this December 31st? …

There is a lot of charm in those lands once taken by foreign colonists -I was specially charmed by Shimla- where the European architecture, cuisine and traditions blend with the native culture creating an exotic and interesting new place. Well, Chandigarh has a little bit of it too; the relative new city was planned by the French Architect Le Corbusier and is the capital of the controversial states of Punjab and Haryana.

Manuela Osorio Pineda dinking beer

They have great selection offresh brewed beer at Hops & Grains in Panchkula

The squared map of ‘City Beautiful’ is divided in sectors; each one with a least one Market and one big park. Along with the neighboring cities of Mohali and Panchkula (you can’t even say when one ends and the next one starts!) it is known as the ‘Tricity’ and both Indians and Foreigners often say Chandigarh is a little different from the rest of India; cleaner, safer and greener. If its truth or not, I still can’t really tell… There is a lot more of this continent-sized nation I have to explore before my final verdict.

After spending two amazing days in Delhi in which we didn’t do much besides adjusting to the food and Indian accent, my Brazilian friend Layla and I, took the train to Chandigarh and spent 4 hours lost in the landscape, drinking lots of chai and even making new friends. Now that I go back, the memories of that first week seem blurry and surreal; the AIESEC Intern’s house packed with 16 friendly guys from all over occupies a special place in my heart even thought I wanted to run away from there in the very first day, and the things that ‘shocked’ us at the beginning are now funny stories and pictures that deserve to be framed for its tremendous power on our lives: ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’! Right? And that’s exactly what the electric ‘artefacts’ to heat the water and room did.

heating water in india

Yep… This is how we heated the water on our first week… Why the wood stick? To keep the metal away from the plastic and the water!.. No, it didn’t work all the times… But yes we are all alive!

India is for the ‘tough’ and open-minded people, although sometimes that last word may sound contradictory. But once you overcome the initial cultural shock -that in my case was a literal one- your life changes forever; oh yes, we thought we were really brave, relaxed and independent! But until you have to explain a tuk-tuk driver who doesn’t speak English how to get to the house you yet not recognize, learn how to live without meat, proper AC in 40 degree C or survive an indigestion, you do NOT deserve that title.

Don’t get me wrong! I don’t want to fall in stereotypes and as I said in my first post, it is impossible to cage India in a simple definition; yet is true I’ve seen people living in extreme miserable conditions, I’ve also witnessed a lot of lakhs spent in one single function of an Indian wedding. India is the country of contrasts and possibilities.

But let’s go back to the cold days of January! So Layla and I spent 7 days living in the living room of a three floors house in Sector 15, Panchkula, both suffering and making the best of the power cuts and lack of water; exchanging music, candies and alcohol with people from Mauritius, Croatia, China and Indonesia. The Russians, French, Costa Rican, Tunisian, Ukrainian, Moroccan, Polish and Egyptian friends came later. On that first week we were invited to a Bachelor party, had our first encounter with the tradition of joint family, saw the matrimonial ads on the classified pages in the newspapers and got lost 100 times. Oh! We also had our first (of many to come) disagreement with the neighbors after one of our friends said goodbye to her date with a big romantic kiss. On the mouth. On the streets!

But that was just the beginning. Where to start?? How to summarize the best and essential of the 5 months I’ve lived here? The traffic, the food, the animals, work environment, Punjabi Culture, the funny anecdotes, interesting facts, the lessons learned and cultural shocks… The good and not-so-good experiences, the weddings and celebrations, the religions, the Temples, the history, the Gods, the language, the similarities and extremely differences between East and West… I wanna scream it all!

Me with my friends in Chandigarh

Me and my friends from Mauritius having fun on ladies night

Let’s start with a couple of lists and highlights (I need to keep you engaged people!)

Fun Facts about Chandigarh

• A lot of foreigners confessed to have had criminal thoughts while staring at the beautiful and garnished cows on the streets of Panchkula, and that’s why I decide to create a survival guide for the intractable carnivores! (Coming soon!)

• People asked to take pictures with my white friends while talking to me in Hindi (yes! I look like a Punjabi girl, and the nose-ring I’ve wore for 5 years helps me camouflage). So dear white and different-looking friends about to come to India: get ready for stares and unexpected requests.

• There is no Sector 13 in Chandigarh or Panchkula because this is an unlucky number in Hindu religion, as in many other parts of the world.

Smoking in public places is strictly prohibited and sometimes even offensive; so if you don’t wanna get a fine for 500 Rs and a lot of bad looks, save the ciggies for rooftops and smoking rooms in pubs and restaurants.

• The city is full of Hindu temples and Sikh Gurudwaras always open to whoever wants to visit! I’ve been told –and Google confirmed!- that there are also a Christian church, a Buddhist temple, a Muslim Mosque and a Jewish Synagogue. This is a place for everyone!

Quick list of my favorite places to visit in Chandigarh

Sukhna Lake: Most romantic place in Chandigarh! Go for a stroll, cycling or boating. From couples on a romantic date and families enjoying the kid’s rides to healthy folks jogging, this 3 km² little paradise is for everyone!

Rose Garden: Beautiful and peaceful park; avoid it in festivals though! – waaaay TOO crowded!- and hot nights; the mosquitoes rule the place.

Rock Garden: Simply amazing! Genius. A wonderland for environmentalists and artists and the “chandigarhi’ version of Disneyland.

The rooftop of Hotel City Heart in Sector 17: Ask for Masala fries and Kingfisher while watching Punjabi videoclips with your friends. Is inexpensive, cool and pretty! If you happen to be there on a Wednesday, head to Girl in the Cafe for free drinks for the girls on ‘Lady’s Night’!

Gurudwara Naba Sahib in Panchkula: The chanting, architecture, flowers, statues and paintings of the Gods are definitely breath-taking; but is definitely the peace and welcoming feeling what put this place in my Top List. After Golden Temple, this is the prettiest Gurudwara I’ve been. Plus, the holy food is amazing and –of course- free. (Yes! I was very impressed by that!!)

At Rock Garden, Chandigarh

At the Rock Garden, Chandigarh

Everyone’s experience is different and depends a lot on the age and personality of every person; but I also think the nationality plays a special role here, so I decided to ask my friends from all over about their adventures and opinions of Incredible India. Stay tuned and let me know if there is something specific you would like to know about Chandigarh or India or want me to talk about in future posts.

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71 Responses to “Manuela arrives in Chandigarh”

  1. Hi Manuela,
    Great to know that you are enjoying your stay in India.
    In case you gave any plans of visiting Dharamshala (the Indian home of Dalai Lama), I do not stay too far from there. It is amply blessed with natural beauty while the Buddhist monasteries dotting the region add to the charm fo the place.
    Please tell Shalu di, and I can fix that up for you!
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  2. Hi Manuela, good to see you at Shalu’s blog once again :)

    Ah…I just landed from Chandigarh just now for that matter and am missing it already as it’s my hometown – and yes, it stands way above the other metros for sure. I liked what all you shared here and I’m glad you are enjoying your visit to our country too. If you get the chance do visit Dalhousie – it’s a worth visiting place. And alongside Chamba and the Kangra valley too.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend, both of you :)
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  3. Hiten says:

    Hi Manuela,

    What an excellent post with such descriptive words. I could really ‘see’, ‘hear’ and ‘feel’ the amazing experiences you had! I’ve never been to Chandigarh and would love to go there one day.

    Thank you.
    Hiten recently posted..How to Be a Quiet PersonMy Profile

  4. Wow, I want to go now Chandigarh. Your descriptions of the site provoke desires of visiting that magic land. Un abrazo enorme mi querida sobrina.

  5. Hi Manuela,
    This is simply “amazing”. I can see that you had a wonderful time.
    -Seun
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  6. Pramod says:

    I’ve been to Sukhna lake and the Rock Garden a couple of times ..and i plan to re-visit it in the coming months as i simply love these two places as you did…and Am glad that you’re loving every bit of your travel in our Country .Thanks for sharing your experiences ..after reading your experiences …many more foreigners would pay a visit to our country .

    Regards,
    Pramod
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  7. I. C. Daniel says:

    Having fun on ladies night picture rocks, absolutely no doubt.

    Best regards from I. C. Daniel
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  8. Abhi says:

    Chandigarh is the best place to halt over.. If you just want to leisurely browse and roam around, then the plush shopping malls filled with mostly elite crowd is definitely your bet. cheers:)

  9. Prasad Np says:

    You are so right Chandigarh is very different from rest of the India. Though it is very culturally diverse, it is still considered to be a city of bureaucrats and retirees. I have spent some good time in Chandigarh and really like it.
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    • Manuela says:

      Yes, life is really peaceful over here! That can be a little boring for some people sometimes, but the city is so central you can easily go on weekend trips to big cities like Delhi or head to the mountains for a change of landscape! I think this is a really nice and beautiful city lo live in but I also understand the feeling of craving for a hectic life. India has it all!
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  10. hq wallpaper says:

    I can understastand the feeling!… Chandigarh really gets to your heart… Thanks for the advice! Id loveto visit those places! Hope you are having too good weekend. its blogs amazing,,,,

  11. hq wallpaper says:

    I didn’t realise that you were from Chandigarh. How cool is that its very cool gayzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  12. India Travel Guide says:

    Interesting write up! Wow, wonderful facts to live in Chandigarh and visit in this fantastic city. such very helpful post for peoples.
    thanks for sharing a travel experience with lot information.

  13. Aryan Singh says:

    How far is Chandigarh from Bangalore, I am staying in Bangalore and want to travel Chandigarh this next weekend..
    I have heard that Chandigarh is well planned city.. cant wait more to visit there..
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  14. yunita says:

    I love the clean city, I love place with full of rose garden. And I love the romantic lake. For me, every lake is beautifull and so peacefull. Please give me another story about sukhna lake. Maybe someday I will be there.
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  15. Woowww.. I can’t imagine how beauty of this place. Why you didn’t add rose garden picture, shalu?
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  16. justin says:

    Hohohoho, nice city I think.. I interest about your statement about there no 13. Why? Can you give me the story of 13 at another next article, shalu?
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  17. Salika Jay says:

    Hi Manuela, looks like you’re really enjoying your time in India :) Keep it up!
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  18. Indian coupons says:

    Hi Manuela,
    That’s an interesting account of your visit to India, and yes welcome to India. Despite all the bad name that India has got in the past, still India is a great place to travel and have fun, And in fact being in India I never heard much about Chandigarh. Thanks for writing this piece. Will surely visit Chandigarh.

  19. Manuela says:

    Thanks for reading! I’m glad you liked it and your comment encourage me to keep writing this way… Keep coming :) !!
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  20. Manuela says:

    2482 Km. away, or 35 hours on the road… It seems kind afar away but I hope you can come! Bangalore is also a city I’ve heard a lot about!
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  21. Hotel Booking Offers says:

    Really Chandigarh is a beautiful city completely filled with Punjabi culture. I visited there recently in March and enjoy the place and delicious food at “PAL DHABA” in sector 28.

  22. Babanature says:

    What a nice and lovely post, if i must say. You really did make us see how Chandigarh looks like in your post and i’ll say, it was really tempting. I’d love visiting india very soon and get adventure of my own. thanks
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  23. Marisol from TravelingSolemates says:

    Chandiragh sounds like a fun and vibrant city. It looks like you’re enjoying it to the fullest.
    “get ready for stares and unexpected requests” – My husband and I got them mostly from group of school children. They asked to have photos taken with us. They were so sweet and curious and asked us a lot of questions about where we came from. We enjoyed those encounters and one of our favorite memories of our time in India.
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    • Manuela says:

      Hahahaha I agree!.. Although with me is the other way around most of the time: they think Im Punjabi! :P … Im glad you liked your experience in Incredible India, is something really hard to explain! Right?
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  24. Latha says:

    I want to go as well… My friends live hre but it is so far from kerala.
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  25. shiv from droidow says:

    Yes I am totally agree . Chandigarh is one of most beautiful city in india. Please don’t mind but I like girls(with Haryanvi accent) of Chandigah. :P . Thanks!! for the post.
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  26. Manuela says:

    Hahaha I’m still not that good at recognizing accents but I can understand! Glad you liked the post :)
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  27. Mari says:

    Very interesting post, thank you very much. I’m a 22 year old from Italy, bueno hablo también un poco de español, and I’m coming to Chandigarh for 6 months for an internship!! I will be leaving at the end of september, it will be my first time in India and living by myself. I hope to get along with the city so well like you!
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    • Manuela says:

      Hola Mari!! :) That’s great!! Are you coming through AIESEC??… I’m sure you will love Chandigarh and India as much as I do! And if you have doubts or want to meet other interns here, feel free to ask, I’ll be happy to help you out ;)
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      • Mari says:

        Thank you, you’re very kind. No, my internship is with a private company in Elante mall. This week I will buy my flight ticket, I was thinking of arriving directly to Chandigarh (of course there are a few hours to wait for the flight from Delhi). If you will be there in October I would love to meet other interns!
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  28. Martin says:

    Chandigarh is very beautiful city, i visited there with my frnds and had lost of fun.

    • Mari says:

      Thank you, you’re very kind. No, my internship is with a private company in Elante mall. This week I will buy my flight ticket, I was thinking of arriving directly to Chandigarh (of course there are a few hours to wait for the flight from Delhi). If you will be there in October I would love to meet other interns!
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  29. Sakshi says:

    Chandigarh is one of the best and most planned city of India. I think it is the only planned city where you won’t see any unauthorized constructions like in metro cities. That is the reason it is called as the european city of India
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  30. paket pulau tidung says:

    Nice place and good party I think.. how many hour this city from delhi?
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    • Manu says:

      4 to 7 dependinsg on the time and way of transportation. You can get a Volvo Bus for 510 Rs, is very comfortable and fast, or you can get a local one bus for half of the price. Is a city worth to visit!
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  31. Wooww.. best temple and best lotus. You combine them at your blog.it’s amazing.. – See more at:

  32. sachin verma says:

    ya visit many times to chandigarh but the most best thing about the night life and sector 17 market

  33. its very interesting, thank you very much. i hope i can go to india next years

  34. basket strainers says:

    Wow… chandigarh is beautiful city i seen….. great fun over there.

  35. Chandigarh is really a beautiful and peaceful city. One can enjoy a good whether and clean India by visiting this city. I am enjoying in this city. Roads are clean and wide, friendly nature, IT sector, jobs and less crowded.:P

    But I want to be there to enjoy a beer mug with a blogger and a good traveler.
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  36. Abhay says:

    Wow! its amazing…. I have got a chance to go Chandigarh is one of the best and most planned city of India….
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  37. jaket kulit says:

    Wow I was surprised to see that the water heater, however India seems fun. I want to live there .. but not more than a week ^_^
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  38. pulau tidung says:

    I enjoy reading through an article that will make men and women think.
    Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!
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  39. karan says:

    Chandigarh is really a beautiful city after all, I love that.
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  40. I so want to go to India, because look at the picture above really excited and happy life.
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  41. tourpackages says:

    Chandigarh is one of the best city in India with very kind hear ted people.I enjoyed a lot travelling to Chandigarh and exploring over there.
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  42. Thanks for your info…
    i will wait for your next post..

  43. Jasa Konsultan Pajak says:

    I really like this from Indian food is so delicious to nature is so beautiful, I feel like I’m to india

  44. iklancs says:

    well, i’d like this post. if i had a moment that can be alternatively destination

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