Chandigarh: It may have derived its name from the globally known Silk Route but Chandigarh's own desi version - the 'Geri Route' - has established itself across generations in the past nearly four decades.
Starting with the Sector 11 market - the hot-spot of the 1990s for the young crowd - the 'Geri route' is now an expanded and larger version. The route now extends to the markets in Sectors 10, 9 and 8 and also includes a part of the picturesque Panjab University campus in Sector 14.
The Geri (Punjabi slang with no real English translation, but meaning to drive around slowly on a particular stretch) has been an activity linked to Chandigarh's youth. Though no one can really point out how and when it actually started, the Geri Route can be associated with the colleges in Sector 11 and 10 where thousands of girls and boys come to study.
"The GCG-11 (Government College for Girls, Sector 11) and the Home Science College (for girls in Sector 10) were the main attractions for young boys to move around in their motor vehicles. This is what gave birth to the Geri. Groups of girls used to walk up to the Sector 11 market and hence this activity picked up," Brajesh Singh, an old-timer on the route said.
"We used to move around mostly on our bikes, mostly (Royal Enfield) Bullets, but some boys had open jeeps and cars. Some people used to just walk around and still be part of the Geri," he said.
In the past decade, the Geri Route had seen changes with a flashy and greater number of cars coming on the scene and the activity expanding to include Sectors 8 and 9 as well.
"Earlier, the number of cars was limited. Now we can see a lot of Range Rovers, Jags (Jaguars), Audis, BMWs, Mercs (Mercedes) and other high-end sports and luxury cars. The whole look of the Geri Route has changed in recent years," Sakshi Thakur, a student, pointed out.
The popularity of the Geri Route can be gauged from the fact that every year - during Valentine's Day and on Holi - Chandigarh Police stations nearly 400 personnel only along this route to ensure that nothing untoward takes place. In the past, the route has even been sealed by the police with barricades to keep out all vehicles.
"I have been on the Geri Route duty three-four times. We have to ensure that the boys don't get rowdy. Ensuring protection of girls and women is top priority," Devinder Singh, who is with the Chandigarh Police said.
Though for the younger lot, the Geri Route is almost like a pilgrimage centre which they must visit often, not all are happy about it.
"The Geri Route becomes a nuisance at times for people living in the area. Those on a Geri sometimes indulge in rash driving and rowdy behaviour. This needs to be curbed," Suraj, a resident of the area said.
But for those interested in matters of the heart, the Geri and its route continues to rule!