Life in Chandigarh, then and now | opinion | Hindustan Times
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Mar 11, 2018-Sunday
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Life in Chandigarh, then and now

Gone are the days when Chandigarh used to be a quiet city. Today it is a different scene altogether as the Chandigarh boasts of the highest automobile density in the country.

opinion Updated: Mar 11, 2018 10:34 IST
Sector 17 is now at best a stroller’s delight.
Sector 17 is now at best a stroller’s delight.(HT File)

It was way back in 1980, I came to Chandigarh as a young girl of 23 years 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, organised city with an amazing ambience. In these four decades, I have seen this ‘big small town’ transform from a sleepy place, an abode of retired people to a vibrant city with a rising population of youth.

Some memories are etched in my consciousness. I had recently moved to the city when my paternal aunt and a cousin from Patna visited Chandigarh. Proudly, I took them to the 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 government 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 no soul moved outside in the market, it was so crowded inside that one could not even find space to stand. I can’t ever forget my aunt’s remark, “the entire Chandigarh seems to have descended on 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 the Chandigarh boasts of the highest automobile density in the country. Traffic jams, which were unheard of in early 80s, are quite common during the peak hours these days 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 manoeuvre the vehicles on busy roundabouts. Some of the roundabouts have been replaced by the traffic signals but at times the signals do not work.

City old timers complain about the increasing crowd, congestion and traffic on the city 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 the Capital roads, negotiating unruly vehicles whizzing around in every plausible trajectory, I realised that Chandigarh traffic was not half as bad as Delhi’s. Maddening crowds, suffocating pollution and intimidating traffic in the National Capital Region (NCR) made me recognise 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, it’s a blessing to be a ‘Chandigarhian’!

( The writer is a retired lecturer of MCM DAV College, Chandigarh)