Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
The Punjab Cricket Association Stadium or the PCA is located in Mohali on the outskirts of Chandigarh. Constructed on swampy land but boasting world-class facilities, it is one of the better built stadiums in the country thanks to the efforts of former BCCI president IS Bindra. In fact, it is said to be one of the best Indian grounds with respect to practice facilities and provisions for the spectators and media. With a track that initially assisted pace bowlers especially in Test matches, Mohali has now turned out into a batsman’s paradise.
The first-ever game played here was between India and South Africa in the 1993 Hero Cup, and at that time, the track was on the slower side. Even a part-time medium pace bowler like Ajay Jadeja was able to keep the batsmen in check, thanks to the nature of the wicket. However, in the very first Test match that Mohali hosted between India and West Indies, the pace bowlers from the Caribbean ran through the Indian batsmen on the final day to notch up an easy win. In another game against New Zealand, India was shot out for a meagre 83 in their first innings, but went on to achieve a draw after they ended up scoring more than 500 in their second innings.
There have been some exciting ODIs played on this ground too. Two of them include the Australian side. In the first, Australia managed to beat the West Indies in the semi-final of the 1996 World Cup by a meagre five runs, while in the other one, they were at the receiving end from the Indian side – losing, coincidentally, by five runs. In the ICC World Cup 2011, Mohali hosted the high-intensity semi-final between India and Pakistan.
Mohali is also the home ground of the Kings XI Punjab team in the Indian Premier League. It will co-host some the home games for the side in the 2011 version of the tournament, the other venue being Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.
Chandigarh is a great symbol for modern India. Designed by French architect Le Corbusier, it is the first planned modern city of India. The city is organised on the basis of sectors. With its numerous parks and gardens, it is one of the greener cities in India.
Being a relatively new city, it doesn’t have a long history and consequently most of the places to see during a Chandigarh trip are landmarks are on their way to becoming a part of history. The Rock Garden is a prime example. A labour of love by Nek Chand, it is a garden where sculptures have been created with multi-hued stones as well as industrial and urban waste. There many gardens where one can relax with loved ones. Stroll along the promenade near Sukhna Lake. The lake, an artificial one, has the longest water channel in Asia, great for yachting or rowing.
Want to be transported to Japan? Try the Pinjore Gardens, located 20 kms from the city, which has Japanese gardens, mini-zoo and even guest houses for visitors. Or there is the Rose Garden, which is one of the biggest rose gardens in Asia.
Make it a point to visit the Bhakra Nangal Dam, built over the river Sutlej, after all Jawaharlal Nehru described it as one of the ‘Temples of Modern India’.
Like any other modern city, Chandigarh too doesn’t have any specific traditional handicraft or handloom industry. The city has a number of shopping malls that offer a plethora of products. The main market of the city is in Sector 17. This is also called the City Centre. There are a number of handicraft emporia, but they usually have a variety of products from the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, UP and Himachal Pradesh. Those who want to take back a little bit of Punjab with them can visit any street stall or shop that has the famous tip-turned-up jootis (traditional footwear), multi-coloured dupattas and jams and juices from the Himachal.
Try Sai Sweets in Sector 22 for breakfast. It has a nice range of sweets and namkins (spicy nibbles). You can go for their popular yoghurt-and-lentil dehi halwa or the kheerkadam. If you are looking for more conventional cuisines, try Nagpal Pure Vegetarian Dhaba. This joint’s simple ambience and the hearty Punjabi meals served make it popular with locals and visitors.
For South Indian food head to the value-for-money Sagar Ratna in Sector 17. Copper Chimney in Sector 26 comes highly recommended for those who have a discerning palette. For sea food with a whiff of Goa or Hyderabad drifting into Punjab, try Swagat in Sector 26.