India offers us with beautiful twenty-nine states and seven union territories to travel to, but sadly our busy schedules do not allow us to travel and explore; unless you are into travel industry. My job hardly lets me travel, I usually take vacations to spots which are at most 650 km from my city. Thanks to my friend, who recently got married in Punjab that I got to visit a few places up north. We stayed in Chandigarh for 4 days for the wedding which was super fun and planned our trip for the remaining 4 days.
Here are the places we visited in Chandigarh in our spare time off the marriage. It is a well planned city with large and clean roads, I was happy to see so many trees, reminded me of old Bengaluru.
- Rock Garden — It’s a huge garden with 40 acres area which looked mostly like a fort at the entrance. Until I saw this place I didn’t know one can utilize industrial and home waste to such an extent. The place is built using all the waste materials like bottles, broken tiles, glasses, sinks to name a few. And the person who built this is Nek Chand, so the place is also famously known as Nek Chand’s Rock Garden.
It feels like a maze inside where we went just round and round. I loved the man made water falls inside this place and a cool Amphi theater. But after roaming inside for sometime, I really wanted to come out but the exit just didn’t seem to appear. So be prepared to spend some good amount of time before you enter this place.
- Sukhna Lake — It is located at the foothill of the Himalayas and looks so serene. You can reach to this place in like 2 minutes from Rock Garden, so these two places can be visited in half a days time. There is boating at this place if it interests you or you could just sit here and admire the beauty it is.
- Sector 17 Area — If you love shopping, be it high end or the street shopping this is one place you should not miss. Best time to visit this place is during day time so there wouldn’t be much crowd and you could bargain as well 😉
We left Chandigarh early morning around 5 in a bus to reach Amritsar, you can also choose to go via train but it takes an hour longer. It was around 3 and half hour journey and it was comfortable as the roads were really good. From the bus stand, we took a rickshaw straight to the most awaited Golden Temple. Amritsar can be covered in a day to see the below places, so we left from their the same evening to Chandigarh.
- Golden Temple, Amritsar — I had seen some surreal pictures of this holiest Gurudwara on social media and in the movies so was eager to witness it myself. We had to walk quite a bit from where the rickshaw stopped, but the whole way there are small shops where one could buy some gifts for friends and family. After washing our hands and feet, as we entered inside there it was right in the middle on the lake so golden and beautiful. The Gurdwara is surrounded by the Sarovar, and they believe it consists of Amrit(“immortal nectar”). There are four entrances to the Gurdwara, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness to all the religion. It was a weekday and still there were 1000’s of people at this place.
* Don’t wear shorts to this place as it is against their dress code*
- As you walk towards the Golden temple, you can also see the historical Jallianwala Bagh , where 100’s of lives were massacred.
- Wagah Border — It is about 30kms from the golden temple, you have to either hire a cab/rickshaw or commute by bus. Also, remember there are no Ola or Uber at this place. The ideal time to reach this place is around 3 to 4 as the parade starts after 4. There are jammers there so no mobile phone service is available. No covered bags are allowed, including ladies handbags or purses. One will certainly feel more patriotic at this place seeing all the army Men of our country.
After Amritsar, the same night we left to Manali in a bus from Chandigarh which started at 12 am and we reached Manali by 7.30 am. We had booked rooms in the Sun Park Resort, which has a beautiful mountain view. Since our visit was in November, the place was very cold which I loved. We stayed for 3 days and two nights at Manali and covered below places:
- Hidimba Temple — The Temple is surrounded by cedar forest, one has to climb a few steps to reach here. Amidst Mountains, this place gives so much peace and has got lot of history associated with it. Hidimbi Devi is the wife of Bhima from Mahabharata and most of the people here worship her. You can find Yak’s also at this place, and take a ride on them if interested for about 150 rs.
- Mall road — It was very close to the resort we stayed in, a spot to do some street shopping and eat street food.
- Rohtang Pass — If you visit Manali, you can not miss visiting this place, however the road wouldn’t be open for the public during december till April as it would be covered with snow. One can hire a wind/cold body suit for 250 rs from any shop on the way to Rohtang. You can do Paragliding at this location. Check out the below video about my experience at Rohtang Pass:
- Vaishno Devi temple — This temple is located at a distance of 2kms from Kullu town and at the banks of Beas river. Even if one is not religious or spiritual this place can be visited for its architecture. A small cave of temple where one has to crawl to enter is interesting amongst many other floors compromising different Goddess and a Shiva temple at the top.
- River Rafting — At the banks of Beas River, there are many spots where you could do river rafting. The water looked so pure and so fresh but it was really cold to play in.
- Naggar Castle — It is about 22km from Manali, and is best stop over place while traveling. It has lovely architecture and some amazing view points.
- Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery — It is a Buddhist Monastery, the place is humongous with aesthetic architecture. This place we visited after Naggar Castle. We sat here for a while forgetting all the chaos in life.
After this we took a bus back to Chandigarh, from there a flight back to Bangalore. This was my 5 day trip covering Chandigarh, Amritsar and Manali which was awesome. Have you been to any of these places earlier? What was your experience like? Leave it in comment box below.