The union Territory of Chandigarh is the twin capital of the northern states of Punjab and Haryana. Spread out over 114 sq. km. it has a population of about a million. The principal languages of the city are Hindi and Punjabi. It has big industrial undertakings as well as more than 2,500 small-scale industrial units. One of the few modern planned cities in India, Chandigarh is divided into 47 self-contained sectors. The town derives its name from Goddess Chandi Devi whose temple stands 15 km form Chandigarh. There is a sense of purposeful designing in Chandigarh with a rectilinear alignment of streets, the neat geometrical design of residential quarters, reinforced concrete structures and self-contained area layouts. At the heart of Chandigar’s designing are sectors, each of them with its shops, academic, and health care buildings, places of worship, open spaces, a green belt and, of course, the residential areas. The essential ingredient in each sector’s planning has been principal day-to-day functions of living, working, care of body and spirit.
The initial plans were drawn in New York by Albert Mayer and Mathew Novicki. When the latter died in an air crash in 1950, the work was entrusted to Le Corbusier, a well known architect and planner. The city’s four major work areas are: the capital complex, consisting of the Secretariat, Legislative Assembly and High Court, in the north with the hills as a background dominating the city; Sector-17, which is the city and district center, with administrative and state government offices, shopping malls, banks and other offices; in the west, a zone for undergraduate and postgraduate education, among them the university, and institutions of engineering, architecture, Asian studies and medicine and the industrial area in the east. In the city of extravagant vision, it is not unusal to come across something like a Rock Garden, which sounds farcical unless actually visited. The result of the imagination and devoted labour of Nek Chand the Rock Garden comprises several areas of sculptures created from debris. Molded rock, waste coal and other disposables have become immortal sculptures in the shape of man and his environment. Fitting into this scenario are museums and art galleries, a lake with water sport facilities and the largest rose garden in Asia. The hill torrents skirting the city were canalized to form a large lake with a most attractive boulevard, along which the citizen take the morning and evening air and watch waterfowl which have made Sukhna Lake a halting place on their migration from central Asia to India and vice-versa.
Chandigarh’s builders blessed it with a futuristic vision, but work here is still not over. Phase two of the building of Chandigarh continues, and the 21st century city may well, in time, become one of the most modern and comfortable in Asia. Here, in this almost ideal city, the new architectural technique has found a sense of balance which is often missing when it intrudes upon already existing, traditional symmetry. In the years to come, city planners, architects, students of art and visitors from around the globe will gather to see what man an create out of a desert. The creation of Chandigarh is a monumental triumph for India.