Terrace is overlooking a beautiful garden… Surrounding houses are camouflaged with leaves of all possible shades of green… Chirping of birds blocks all noise of traffic from neighbouring roads… Enchanting view of some of the rare species of birds that come to greet seasonally, form a foreground for Shivalik Range. Such is the pandora of beauty that my senses experience every single morning as I sip my caffeine to kick-start the day.
When, in most cities, nature is brutally wounded to give space to multi-rise buildings, this is a rare city of India where greenery forms a substantial part of the fabric. The city that seems generations old, ironically, is the most modern city of India which is not only well designed, but also has its systems in place.
‘Welcome to Chandigarh’, the board reads as the visitors lift their feet from accelerator pedal and get their car speed in limits. They have heard notorious tales of the Chandigarh Traffic Police that is excellent in doing their job — enforcing law and distributing challans to the offenders. As car meanders through the curves and straights of the ‘grid patterned’ city, one sees parks and green pockets among row houses flanked on either side of the internal roads. What a pleasure to the eyes..!!
A few years back while I was waiting for my turn for visitor visa at the US embassy, a couple sitting next to me was in argument. Eavesdropping, I discovered that husband wanted to move to US because of the country’s systematic functioning and cleanliness, while the wife felt that with two kids, life was easier with house-help back in India. I tried my best, but couldn’t control my horses as I uninvitedly jumped into their conversation and said, “Move to Chandigarh”. Quizzed they looked at me as they halted their argument abruptly. Overcoming my momentary embarrassment for barging in, I started explaining my viewpoint. When I discovered that they had never been to Chandigarh, I grabbed the opportunity to describe to them about the city, it’s planning, cleanliness, picturesque location in the foothills, resident facilities, etc. They were left awestruck and soon resonated with my opinion that if Government of India plans to model other cities on similar lines, though not in impossible area of city planning, but systematic approach, discipline and functioning, it can not only streamline the life of Indians to a much bigger extent, but also use the potential that is required by our country to grow.
When Covid, Omicron, and all such viruses hit the country, Chandigarh got back to its normal life soon-after with kids resuming their outdoor picnics, health freaks jogging at the Sukhna lake and old people found doing yoga asanas in parks. Humorously, the scenario in the big cities was much contrasting where residents chose to prolong their stay confined to their ‘bunkers’, aka little apartments to protect them from spread of infection from high density of people around. Mere outings were concrete jungles with Malls, restaurants and commercial centres which were avoided by most during this time due to indoors. Many chose to move to the cleaner, greener pastures in suburban areas, while many immigrated back to the green city.
Chandigarh is not an industrial hub, but definately has become an educational hub of North India. With lounges, cafes, restaurants mushrooming in its various pockets, and most International brands making an entry, the city has got a great hike in terms of commercial activity. Being a home to many NRIs has brought in a different level of exposure in terms of high taste and lavish lifestyle, which has pushed the city to a much faster pace making it one of the most sought after settlement destinations of India.
So all those who underestimate the potential of India, please visit Chandigarh. All those who seek migrating to foreign land for good lifestyle, please visit Chandigarh. All those who think culture and modernism can’t go hands in hands, pls visit Chandigarh. All those who think cities are incapable of having a balanced approach to cater to variety of people, please visit Chandigarh. It is a beautiful place, set at the foothills of mighty Himalayas, always ready with its arms open, sorry it’s ‘open hand’ open, to greet tourists and migrants with its warm hug, also called the ‘Punjabi Japhi’… constantly defying what most people assume that — beauty comes with arrogance…NO NOT NECESSARILY…!!