Chandigarh, a small green and clean city in Northern India has made it to the list of Perfect Cities in the world by BBC, but much before it gained this special title, it made a special place in my heart. And I hope that counts, at least for my kids. Importantly I earned my Master’s degree from this city of Butter Chicken, Bougainvillea, Roundabouts and Phulkari art. But coming back to this city with my twins is another experience altogether. Easily approachable, it is hardly 15 minutes by flight from Delhi, and 4 hours by road or train. I consider this city a kid-friendly city and here are the top 12 things to do in Chandigarh with kids.
Rock Garden – Chandigarh city was designed by French architect, Le Corbusier and it found its soul in another visionary Padamshree Nek Chand. He was a government official who secretly created this garden of sculptures out of Industrial and home waste. Only much later did he receive government aid for the same. And today Chandigarh is known as the Rock-Garden City.
It is now spread over 40 acres with artificial lakes and an amphitheatre. But what always catches the kid’s eyes are the sculptures made of broken ceramics, bangles etc. There is a lot of walking and if you are travelling with toddlers take a pram along with you.
Sukhna Lake – This Chandigarh icon is a perfect place for your morning walks and evening jogs. This artificial lake is ideal for your kids to enjoy boating, bird-spotting and eating an ice-cream. Although it has a big food arena and games zone I prefer the more quiet and quaint atmosphere of Sukhna Lake from years back. Tip: In the winter months look around for the vendors selling roasted peanuts and wild berries with sea-salt.
Rose Garden – In sec-16, in the heart of city is the beautiful Rose Garden. From wild fragrant rose bushes to the english rose, the blossoms are in all colours and sizes. And the kids absolutely love the play area with the slides and swings there. There is a small snack-corner within the park for you to enjoy.
Fragrance Garden – A little further away in sec 36 is the Fragrance Garden. Again it makes for a beautiful afternoon picnic spot or evening stroll and is well equipped with kid’s swings.
Sector 17 market- This market has been the lifeline for strolling teenagers, shopping enthusiasts and foodies. On a weekend it is buzzing like a fair. From branded stuff to local street jewellery, eatables and shoes, you’ll find everything right here. On weekends there is a special light and dance fountain show which is a big hit with the kids.
Chicken-Butter and Tandoori – Chandigarh is a foodies’ paradise. There is Chawla’s chicken corner, the lassi Dhabas, the butter chicken specialists and Hot Millions burgers. And if the authentic Punjabi food is too heavy or hot for you, just head to sector 26, sector 17 or sector 22 for Chinese, Italian or Mexican food. A little tip – Ask your chef to make tandoori chicken without spices for kids and butter chicken curry. The kids’ tummy will love you for this.
ChattBir Zoo– Honestly I have seen better Zoos, but then is one activity that never fails to entertain kids. It is almost half an hour from the centre of the city.
Elanta Mall- Forgive me for recommending a mall. But here is what I have learnt from my touristy twins-kids love walking through a crowd infested mall, as far as they know how to survive it. This mall opened recently but houses everything from clothes, coffee, shoes and Hamley’s. There are Chuggy train rides, remote control car-rides and bouncy. Make the most of it.
Timber Trail Ropeway – This ropeway operated by a private resort, is at less than half an hour’s drive from this city beautiful. There are two ropeways to carry you from the Chandigarh-Shimla highway to another mountain where you can even stay overnight. Run by the Timber Trail Resort you have an option of eating or staying at either end of the ropeway. Tip-on the weekend make sure you reach early as the queue can get longer as the day goes by. The ropeway stops its operation before sunset.
Sardarji ka dhabba – Almost a good 45 minutes away is a famous eating joint called ‘sardarji ka dhabba’, head here for some crispy paranthas (Indian Bread with fillings of different vegetables).
Kasuali Hills – This is a famous hill station of Himachal Pradesh which is hardly at an hour’s distance from Chandigarh. At least 3/4th of the way is an express highway and the rest is a picturesque hill drive. With many options of hotels, restaurants etc this makes for a great weekend holiday spot or just a day picnic. Famous as the hometown of the Indian writer, Late Khushwant Singh, it can get overcrowded on a long weekend.
Pinjore Graden or Yadavindra Garden: Hardly 20 minutes off Chandigarh, these were made by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s foster-brother Fidail Khan. The garden has been laid in seven terraces, and makes for a grand vision. Kids love walking by the fountains and on the well manicured lawns. Also, like all historic places this one too makes for a grand photo-op.
Morni Hills – This is another popular hill station at just about 45 minutes from Chandigarh. The drive to this station with lakes and pine trees is through a dense forest. Popular with trekkers and tourists alike, Morni has a guest house and a state sponsored Resort. For kids there is a skating rink and swimming pool apart from beautiful green outdoors to play in.
Chandigarh is home to some iconic schools and highly respected Panjab University and PGI Hospital. But this city will always be better know for its large-hearted citizens, flower-laden houses and Punjabi Music that makes everyone dance and enjoy life. Interestingly, it is also a stop-over to the famous tourist destinations like Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie, Amritsar and Jammu Kashmir.
I hope you find this article informative and if I missed your favourite kid-friendly activity in Chandigarh, please add it in the comment box.
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