June 5, 2023

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Chandigarh, the city created by Le Corbusier and is now the cleanest in India

Chandigarh cannot be reached by accident. Those who do so are fascinated by the history of its construction, whether they are interested in urban planning, whether they are architects or have heard of what is in it. India A city that is littered with garbage or has a dirty floor layout.

Chandigarh wanted to be a proof of the idea that people can live in peace and prosperity. The fact is that Punjab was divided into two parts when India gained independence and Pakistan formed automatically. The state capital (Lahore) was on the side of the new Islamic Republic, so India was forced to announce a new reference city.

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Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, immersed in modernist thought, at the same time decided that the new capital of Punjab would be the capital of the neighboring state of Haryana. That this city will be built for nothing. The person leading this project is the esteemed Le Corbusier (Charles-oudouard Jeanneret-Gris), an architect who supported humanitarian and livable cities.

That is what sees the traveler moving towards those northern states of India today. Chandigarh was designed as a grid, but it was not exactly rectangular in shape and at first was vaguely reminiscent of a human figure. The main administrative buildings were grouped in the head (because they had to “think” about what was convenient for their citizens for a reason). The houses were distributed at the trunk and ends, but the main gardens were located at the point of contact with the lungs. It all peaked at record time in the early 1950s.

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Zakir Hussain Rose Garden, Chandigarh

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Nearly seven decades have passed (2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the city’s officially opening), which provides ample perspective to assess. According to interesting surveys, whose origin is not clear, Chandigarh residents are said to be the happiest in the Indian Union.

Order in its streets; Houses designed to allow minimum and maximum natural light to enter the Indo-Gangetic plain; Number of gardens – including the monumental rose garden, with more than a thousand varieties -; As well as the opportunity provided by the artificial lake Sukhna, they will testify to this.

Most white cement buildings show a rusty appearance due to rain and humidity

India’s tropical and monsoon climate is made worse by the work of Le Corbusier. Most of the buildings, erected in white cement, now look dirty with the remnants of seventy seasons of rain, always very high humidity and high temperatures prevailing in Punjab. Despite being a hundred kilometers from the foothills of the Himalayas, the climate in Chandigarh is hell.

But, without resorting to surveys, if there is one thing that the traveler can check with his own eyes, it is the cleanest and most orderly city in Chandigarh, India. Large sections of the population are middle-class civil servants living without suffocation – which does not preclude the existence of even the poorest suburbs.

Chandigarh Parliament, designed by Le Corbusier

Chandigarh Capitol, designed by Le Corbusier

duncid / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

It is a pride to see the vast tree-lined paths freed from the rubbish hills that rule the country. It does not grow as chaotic from development as other metropolitan areas of the country, but in an organized manner around a project, there is a balancing aspect to everything. All we have to do is baptize the neighborhoods and districts without the slightest bit of originality (there were 57 people there, no one thought there was a better formula than giving them a number, that’s all) and had to rejoice with their attractions.

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Arriving in Chandigarh, one finds pleasant places like Rock Garden, besides urban exploration and the Capitol building. It is not a huge park, but it is populated by sculptures created by the official Nek Chand from the ruins created by the construction of the city. In addition, Le Corbusier’s grid is broken in this open space, and there is inconsistency in the landscape, corners and grooves, curves, areas below the horizon, urban fabric, waterfalls, and forests that obscure the view of artificial caves. .

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Everything in Chandigarh is not overflowing with modernity. Its remarkable Museum of Traditional Art houses a magnificent collection of sculptures from the Kandran period (6th century BC and later), when Alexander’s heirs combined Greek culture with Hinduism on the banks of the Indus.

Chandigarh is located at a distance of 250 km from the Indian capital Delhi. On the way to Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs, it may be a nice stopover, away from major tourist sites and 200 km from the city designed by Le Corbusier.

The sculptures of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh are made from the ruins of the Capitol's construction.

The sculptures of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh are made from the ruins of the Capitol’s construction.

Wonderful Indian