Chandigarh earns sobriquet of ‘The City Beautiful’ due to serenity, picturesquely and planned development. The city, which is now Union Territory, was among the dream cities of India’s first Prime Minister, Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru. It is located at the foothills of Shivalik hill ranges in the north, which form a part of the fragile Himalayan ecosystem and was planned by famous French architect Le Corbusier.
Chandigarh derives its name from the temple of “Chandi Mandir” located in the vicinity of the site selected for the city. The deity ‘Chandi’, the goddess of power and a fort of ‘garh’ laying beyond the temple gave the city its name “Chandigarh”.
Since the medieval through modern era, the area was part of the large and prosperous Punjab Province which was divided into East & West Punjab during partition of the country in 1947.
In March, 1948, the Government of Punjab, in consultation with the Government of India, approved the area of the foothills of the Shivalik as the site for the new capital. The foundation stone of the city was laid in 1952. Subsequently, at the time of reorganization of the Punjab state on November 1, 1966 into –Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pardesh—Chandigarh assumed the unique distinction of being the capital city of both, Punjab and Haryana. However, the controversy related to claim over Chandigarh continues to remain one of the hot inter-state issues between Punjab and Haryana till date.
Le Corbusier conceived the master plan of Chandigarh as analogous to human body, with a clearly defined head (the Capitol Complex, Sector 1), heart (the City Centre Sector-17), lungs (Sukhna Lake, leisure valley, innumerable open spaces and sector greens), the intellect (the cultural and educational institutions), the circulatory system (the network of roads, the 7Vs) and the viscera (the Industrial Area).
This is the reason that Chandigarh is known as one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture in the twentieth century in India.
“The city of Chandigarh is planned to human scale. It puts us in touch with the infinite cosmos and nature. It provides us with places and buildings for all human activities by which the citizens can live a full and harmonious life. Here the radiance of nature and heart are within our reach.”
— Le Corbusier