CHANDIGARH, VISIT THE FIRST PLANNED CITY OF INDIA
Looking for a perfect location to visit this winters? Worth the visit, one of the first planned city of India, Chandigarh is renowned for its urban design and architecture.
Winning hearts of many people, Chandigarh has been a city that presents the world-renowned architecture, and a quality of life, which is unparalleled. As the capital of Punjab and Haryana, the hub of several activities, Chandigarh offers several sightseeing places and tourist attractions that are suitable for travellers of all kinds.
Rightfully named the “City Beautiful” offers a tourist with the beautiful nature to art and culture, from nightlife to shopping, eventually being a popular tourism destination assures one with the best holiday experience, the different locations one can visit are:
THE FOUNDATION OF THE CITY AND LE CORBUSIER CENTRE
Chandigarh’s birth was an act of anguish and drama that took place at the time of partition of India and Pakistan. During the partition, Lahore which was the historical capital of Punjab was ceded to Pakistan and Chandigarh, the modern, youngest and vibrant city was conceived to be a symbol of India’s freedom.
The most significant urban planning experiments of the 20th century, Chandigarh was designed from scratch in 1950 by Swiss architect Le Corbusier who conceived a people-oriented city of sweeping boulevards, lakes, gardens and grand civic buildings that are executed in his favourite material and reinforced concrete when he was commissioned with the job.
The representation of planned urbanism, Chandigarh has had far-reaching impact, ushering in a modern idiom of architecture and city planning all over India. It has been known for its landscaping and its architectural ambience while most of the buildings in the city are in pure, cubical form, geometrically subdivided with emphasis on proportion, scale and detail.
The architect and designer of this city, Le Corbusier summed up his work on the city in an “edict” intending to enlighten the present and future citizens of Chandigarh about the basic concepts of planning of the city so that they become its guardians and save it from whims of individuals. In this edict, the basic ideas underlying the planning of the city are mentioned.
The Le Corbusier Centre is a fascinating museum that displays documents, sketches and photos of Le Corbusier, along with letters revealing the politics behind the Chandigarh project, including one from Jawaharlal Nehru to the Punjab Chief Minister recommending Corbusier for the project. The museum also has various interesting designs, sketches, paintings and a model for a proposed Governor’s House that were rejected by Prime Minister Nehru as he found it too extravagant.
Nek Chand Rock Garden or Chandigarh’s Rock Garden offers a surreal fantasy of the much-missed Nek Chand (1924–2015), a local transport official who, starting in 1957. He created more than 2000 sculptures for almost 20 years using stones, debris and other discarded junk that was leftover from the 50-odd villages destroyed to build the city of Chandigarh.
In today’s time, this fantastical 18-acre sculpture garden is still visited by millions of people every year who appreciate the work of the Padma Shri holder Nek Chand. A fact about this place that makes it a must-visit is that Chand work was hidden for almost 18 years before the authorities discovered this work that was at that time already spread across 13 acres.
The most important part of this planned city by Le Corbusier are the imposing concrete High Court, Secretariat and Vidhan Sabha which are the epicentre of the city and shared by the states of Punjab and Haryana. These three buildings are a classic representation of the 1950s architecture from the proto-brutalist school, with bold geometric lines and vast sweeps of moulded concrete. One cannot just visit the complex on their own, they should be a part of one of the three group tours (10 am, noon and 3 pm; 1½ hours; free) that are run daily.
The Government Museum and Art Gallery is a place where one can find a fine collection of artworks and treasures at this impressive state museum, including trippy paintings of the Himalaya by Russian artist Nicholas Roerich, elegant carvings from the Buddhist Gandhara civilisation, phulkari (embroidery work) and Sobha Singh’s much-reproduced portrait of Guru Gobind Singh.
The child art gallery with the colourful artworks from local school children can also be viewed through a separate entrance. With an Rs.10 ticket that covers the entrance to the Government Museum & Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum, one can enjoy the best of Art at Chandigarh.
BEST TIME TO VISIT CHANDIGARH
A trip to Chandigarh can be planned during the winter season between October and March when the weather is enjoyable for exploring a myriad of tourist attractions and favourable for city and sightseeing tour of the city.