Life in Chandigarh-then and now

It was way back in 1980, I came to Chandigarh as a young girl of 23 to join a prestigious girls’ college as a lecturer and fell in love with the beauty and serenity of the city. In sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of Jalandhar where I spent my growing up days, I found Chandigarh to be a calm, neat and clean, organized city with an amazing ambience. In these four decades I have seen this ‘big small town’ transform from a sleepy place, an abode of the retired to a vibrant city with a rising youth population.

Some memories are etched in your consciousness forever. I had recently moved to the city when my paternal aunt and a cousin from Patna visited Chandigarh. Proudly, I took them to Sector 17 shopping plaza which was supposed to be the most happening place, but on that chilly winter afternoon the roads were deserted and the market looked desolate. Hailing from an overcrowded city of Patna which buzzed with activity all the time, the absence of human clutter in Chandigarh was quite a shock for my relatives. After a little stroll around the fountain, we went to Handloom House, a govt. emporium in the heart of the shopping centre which used to be a popular shopping destination for silk fabric and sarees during the annual sale period. Whereas outside in the market there was not a soul , inside the showroom it was so crowded that there was absolutely no place to stand. I can’t ever forget my aunt’s remark, “Entire Chandigarh seems to have descended in the Handloom House.”

Gone are the days when Chandigarh used to be a quiet city with hardly any traffic on the roads. Today it is a different scene altogether as Chandigarh boasts of the highest automobile density in the country. Traffic jams, which were unheard of in early 80s, are quite common these days during the peak hours and parking is a nightmare in every sector market. The city has always been known for its beautiful roundabouts and smooth flow of traffic but now it is difficult to maneuver the vehicles on busy roundabouts. Some of the roundabouts have been replaced by the traffic signals but there are many which are being retained doggedly with the help of traffic lights.

City old timers complain about the increasing crowd, congestion and traffic on Chandigarh roads. I, too, have been lamenting the loss of paradise but my recent visit to Delhi was an eye opener. Seeing the chaotic traffic on Delhi roads, negotiating unruly vehicles whizzing   around in every plausible trajectory, I realized Chandigarh traffic is not half as bad as Delhi’s. Maddening crowd, suffocating pollution and intimidating traffic in National Capital Region made me recognize what a heaven Chandigarh continues to be. Back from NCR, I have become mindful of the beauty and serenity of Chandigarh – its open spaces, numerous small and big parks/gardens, wide roads lined with splendid flowering trees and majestic hills in the background. Definitely, there is something magical about the place. Despite the change over the past four decades, Chandigarh maintains a charm of its own. Indeed, a blessing to be a Chandigarhian!


Published in HT Chandigarh (Guest Column) on March 11, 2018

22 Replies to “Life in Chandigarh-then and now”

  1. Yes ma’am, definitely Chandigarh has something really magical about itself, the appeal of being the first planned city of the country. When we shifted here from Ludhiana 11 years ago, we used to miss Ludhiana so much…..the Ludhianvi food, shopping experience, hustle bustle. But slowly and gradually, the city grows on you, you begin appreciating the well-organised sectors, wider roads (as compared to Ludhiana, scenic beauty, serenity of beautiful gardens…..Now, we call it ‘our’ City Beautiful!

  2. Rama , while I agree with your views on Chandigarh , which is relatively a much better place to live in vis a vis the national capital region , but unfortunately Chandigarh has not kept pace with the economic development as expected from High growth non metro town. Similar comparisons are Jaipur , Hyderabad or Pune and not to miss Gurgaon .Except for some marginal growth in IT and education sector , there is not much growth /opportunity in other services or the manufacturing sector in Chandigarh . The town is dominated by govt service class and the trading community . The young have essentially to migrate to metros or other high growth cities for both development and job opportunities . This is something Chandigarh should have kept pace with . But yet it’s a town which grows on you … Anu Kohli

  3. So true ma’am
    There is no other city which is as beautiful as ours. Such an amazing article 👍

    1. Yes Navneet , it is a blessing to be staying in Chandigarh. You realise it even more when you visit other cities in the country.

  4. I was in Chandigarh from 1980-84. Chandigarh was not peaceful at that time but indeed it is a beautiful city. The credit goes to its educated, modern and sophisticated natives. Yes, it should have been the Banglore of Northern India- but it seems lack of political will. Madam please also share your own clicked photos also with your readers.

    1. Good to read your comments, Garima.

      You came to Chandigrh in the same year when I came . Whereas i found the city calm and peaceful ,you did not feel d same.A matter of perception! Could be because you were a student at that time and I joined as a teacher in 1980.

      Hope we continue to be in touch through the blog.
      Regarding my picture, I would love to share .

  5. Respected Rama ma’am
    I feel chandigarh is one of the desired places to live, probably because of its beauty and well management structure.
    Still on many fronts city needs improvements.
    But I must say…. chandigarh is still capable of giving you a feeling of living in foreign country (If compared with others cities here)

  6. You are right Gunjan .
    Chandigrh iis better as compared to other cities in country but there is much that needs to be done in terms of cleanliness
    and upkeep of the infrastructure.

  7. Respected ma’am, after spending seven years in Chandigarh, I have also realised that it is the best city to live.
    Most important thing which always attract me is the greenery and amazing parks in every sector which makes the city full of life!!

    1. Yes Ananta’s!Chandigarh is a city of parks . Almost every open space has been converted into a park or a garden. But the city is not as clean as it is projected to be . The administration and the residents must share the responsibility for the same .

  8. Good morning ma’am
    You are absolutely right. Chandigarh is a mesmerising place but its day by day increasing population has made an adverse effect on the peaceful environment and the beauty of THE CITY BEAUTIFUL.
    The traffic jams, noisy horns, population, pollution and increasing industries are deploying away the soothing nature pf Chandigarh. However, still it is a better place to live as compared to other metropolitan cities like Delhi or Mumbai.
    Given a chance i would love to live again in the greenery hubs of Chandigarh.

  9. Today the population of Chandigrh is more than ten lakhs , which is more than double as compared to what it was in early 80s.
    You are right Niharika , the population pressure is bound to to result in traffic snarls n other related problems .

  10. Absolutely maam…. Chandigarh has always remained and will continue to remain a place beyond comparison. It has been a place where i grew in a true sense. I came here for my graduation, did my masters and then B.ed and spent six years of my life which connected me through this city forever. Hailing from a small town of J&K, this city taught me many things and brought out an independent personality out of me. Thank you Chandigarh and people whom i met and dey became a part of me.

  11. The best thing about your articles is that they are so relatable.Ivisited Chandigarh for the first time in the year1974. I was like yes nice green and organised but dull and desolate as you aptly put it.But 20 years later after livi ing inDelhi for four years we got a chance to live in pkl.And we fell In love with the tricity sold off our house in Delhi and here we are settled in panchkula and loving it.

    1. I think i have been able to guess correctly.Must be you Ranjna ji who is reading my write-ups with so much of an interest.Thank you so much.

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