In terms of attractions, the first thing that comes to mind is the monumental Capitol Complex, which dominates the city skyline. Standing aloof, like the Greek Acropolis, at the foothills of the city, the geometrical concrete buildings rise from the mounds as giant playful sculptures. The three major buildings comprising the Capitol Complex are the Secretariat, the Assembly, and the High Court. All the three are interlocked to one another as part of a subtle visual composition, delicately balanced and enclosing grandiose spaces. Between the silhouettes of these magnificent edifices is juxtaposed the city's most popular visible symbol: the Open Hand. Conspicuous as a giant hand in steel, it rotates free with the whims of the winds from a high concrete pedestal, conveying the message: "open to give, open to receive."
Next to the Capitol Complex, the most important place to visit is Sector 17, its sleek shopping area and the city center. Planned around four pedestrian concourses meeting at a central Chowk, it is a pedestrian's paradise, dotted with fountains, sculptures, and groves of tree. In summer one can move from one end of the sector to the other under the shade of a corridor, and in winter it is nice to be out in the sun-drenched piazzas. In the evenings, when the colorful mosaic of neon signs and the aesthetically illuminated fountains come alive, it becomes the city's biggest outdoor club. And the people congregate there for the thrill of the urban rub and the excitement of its shop-front glitter.
A major feature of Chandigarh is its Leisure Valley, which, like a garland of gardens, ornaments the city from one end to the other. A natural eroded valley of the city site with a small gurgling rivulet has been now developed into a series of theme gardens. The most famous of these is the Rose Garden. The other prominent parks of the city are the Garden of Tranquility, Garden of Rare Plants, Garden of Annuals, and the Bougainvillea Garden.
No description of Chandigarh gardens can be complete without a mention of its most celebrated creations, The Rock Garden. Spread over 12 acres of wooded land near the Capitol Complex of Le Corbusier, it is the creation of a humble former road inspector: Nek Chand. Turning urban waste material into creative patterns and textures, his touch transformed mute rocks into art objects. Mysterious spaces with stones, rocks and waterfalls recreate the awe and wonder of primordial nature. This unabashed realm of natural and manmade creativity attracts people of all age groups, and from all parts of the world.
Another favorite recreation spot of the nature-loving people of Chandigarh is the Sukhna Lake. Created by building an artificial dam on a seasonal stream, it is spread over a large area. A two-kilometer-long promenade along the lakeshore is a popular place for strolling. On any day, early in the morning, fitness buffs of all age groups can be seen walking, jogging, and performing yoga or vigorous exercises at the lakefront.