DESPITE BEING known as ‘The City Beautiful’, many prominent tourist destinations in Chandigarh are in need of sprucing up. The tourist spots are being affected due to lack of regular maintenance.
The famous Rose Garden, which was once home to over 1,500 species of roses, now only has 829 species. A visit to the garden reveals a sorry state of affairs. The musical fountain, which was established at the garden in 2002 is also not regularly cleaned, and has stagnant, dirty water.
“Right now, the roses will be cut, as they will properly bloom in December-January, which is the peak time,” said Surinder Singh, supervisor of the Rose Garden. The Rose Festival, which is organised in the last week of February, however, continues to attract tourists.
The Rock Garden, which was created by the late Nek Chand with home waste and throw-away items, also lacks proper maintenance – There is graffiti on the walls and broken statues. Although efforts are taken to keep the garden clean, littering by visitors remains an issue. In the monsoon, waterlogging is a common problem faced by tourists.
The Rock Garden has also seen a slight decline in the number of tourists since its creator Nek Chand passed away in June this year. “Earlier, large groups of students and tourists used to visit Rock Garden just to meet Nek Chand ji. But now that he is gone, we have recorded a decline in the number of people visiting the garden,” said Anshul Kumar, in-charge at the Rock Garden.
However, in attempts to boost tourism, the authorities at the Rock Garden are planning to create an art gallery dedicated to Nek Chand. “We want to capture the essence of Nek Chand’s life and showcase it through pictures,” added Anshul, who believes the art gallery could be a major crowd-puller in the future.
At Sukhna Lake, the most sought-after tourist spot in the city, due to lack of frequent checks and increased littering, cleanliness is a problem. Over the years, with an increase in weeds, the boating area has also been reduced.
The ‘Hop On, Hop Off’ double-decker bus that takes tourists around the city is also not being properly maintained and tends to frequently run off-schedule. “There were leakages in the double-decker bus due to rain recently and the ride was consequently canceled for the day,” said Arnav, a resident of Chandigarh.
According to architect Surinder Bagha, the city needs to become more tourist-friendly. “There is no proper framework to promote Chandigarh as a tourist destination at a national/international level. No website for tourism specifically is maintained by the administration and even tourism-related data is not easily available.”
Commenting on the decline in the number of foreign tourists in the city in the past few years, Bagha said, “The city is not very receptive to foreign tourists. Foreigners are often over-charged and the police have also failed in providing them with the guidance they seek.”
“However, one positive step that has been taken by the administration is the establishment of a tourist reception centre at the Capitol Complex, which has been operational for a year. Earlier, the tourists had to go to the Chandigarh College of Architecture and the process was cumbersome,” he added.