“The City Beautiful” – a name given to Chandigarh with its unique architecture, lush gardens, and fantastical installations. It is the most beautiful and well-planned city in India designed using grid patterns. Chandigarh has also been called “a time capsule of Mid-Century Modern and Brutalist architecture”. The dream city of Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, and was designed by Le Corbusier. In this article, we are going to discuss some facts about Chandigarh that you might not be aware of.
- In March 1948, the Government of Punjab, in deliberation with the Government of India, approved the area at the foothills of the Shivaliks, as the site for the new capital. Leading to the beginning of work, for India’s first planned city.
- The foundation stone of the city was laid in 1952.
- Subsequently, at the time of re-organization of the state in November 1966 into Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, the city assumed the unique distinction of being the capital city of both, Punjab and Haryana.
- The city building project is an ever-evolving process but the residential and industrial facilities started in the year 1966.
- The city was conceived to resettle thousands of refugees who had been uprooted from West Punjab.
- Chandigarh was a dream project for India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He played a major role in the establishment and planning of this city.
- The very first design was charted under an American architect, Albert Mayor.
- But due to personal reasons, he was unable to finish the project, and hence the task of designing ‘The city beautiful’ fell on the shoulders of Le Corbusier. Therefore, the major design of the city was designed by French Architect Le Corbusier, Jane Drew, and Maxwell Fry.
- It is the only city in India that serves as the capital city of two states both at the same time.
- It was declared as a Union Territory and under the direct control of the Central Government in November 1966.
- It is known as one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture in the twentieth century in India.
- It is considered the Number 1 city in the country in terms of the Human Development Index.
- Chandigarh has also been rated as the “Wealthiest Town” of India.
- This city was awarded the name of ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’.
- In prehistoric times, a lake and mountainous region existed on the land where Chandigarh stands today.
- It has also been home to many Harrapans around 8000 years ago.
- Chandi Devi Temple was built in 1929 by Suchat Singh in his reign as the King of Kashmir. Serving its popularity and closeness to the site selected for the city, the name ‘Chandigarh’ was given to this emerging city.
- The building of this city required the relocation of some 21,000 people from 58 villages.
- Chandigarh was formally inaugurated by India’s first president, Rajendra Prasad on 7 October 1953.
- Sanghol, a village around 43km from Chandigarh is an archaeological site that still has the remnants of the ancient Harappan civilization.
- Some ancient Buddhist stupas have also been discovered here, establishing the connection with the ancient civilization.
- The Union Territory of Chandigarh is located in the foothills of the Shivalik hill ranges in the north.
- It covers an area of approximately 114 km2.
- It is present at a height of 321 meters (1053 ft) from sea level.
- Chandigarh usually gets an annual rainfall of approx. 1110.7mm.
- It is occupied by Kandi (Bhabhar) in the northeast and Sirowal (Tarai) and alluvial plains in the remaining part.
- The subsurface formation comprises boulders, pebbles, gravel, sand, silt, clays, and some kankar.
- The area is drained by two seasonal streams i.e, Sukhna Choe in the east and Patiala-Ki-Rao Choe in the west.
- The central part forms a surface water divide and has two minor streams. The stream passing through the central part is called N-Choe and the other is Choe Nala which begins at Sector 29.
- Chandigarh is also adjoining Mohali and Panchkula. All three together are known as Tricity.
- Chandigarh has a humid subtropical climate.
- It experiences very hot dry summers, spread out rainfall, and coarse winters.
- It experiences variation in temperature ranging from −1°C to 46 °C ( 30.2 °F to 114 °F ).
- The winter rainfall is triggered by the western disturbance in the Mediterranean sea.
- The city experiences 5 different seasons in total. Those are Spring, Autumn, Summers, Monsoon, and Winter.
- The close vicinity to Sukhna Lake keeps the weather humid in the summers and breezy in the winter.
- Summers are usually longer than the rest of the seasons.
- The city was conceived under the supervision of a Swedish-born French architect Le Corbusier.
- He thought of the city as a living being and designed places analogous to it.
- Head – The Capitol Complex, Sector 1
- Heart – The City Centre Sector-17
- Lungs – The leisure valley, gardens, a large number of open spaces, and trees in the sector.
- The intellect – Multiple cultural and educational institutions
- The circulatory system – The network of roads, the 7Vs (later on V8 was added for cyclists.)
- The viscus – The Industrial Area
- Three architectural masterpieces were also constructed in the capitol complex, i.e, the “Secretariat, the High Court, and the Legislative Assembly.
- A Governer’s Palace was also in the making initially but the idea was scrapped as Le Corbusier didn’t want Governer to be held in the position of a King.
- A symbol of an open hand was also given to Chandigarh which stands as a magnificent piece in the Capitol Complex.
- The open hand signifies the city’s credence i.e, “open to give, open to receive”.
- The heart of Chandigarh is one of the most important area in the city by building a bus terminal, district court, parade ground, office square, shopping complex, and much more.
- Sukana Lake was also made and one of the most beautiful spots in the city by giving a concrete look to the side panels and a serene night view shining over its blue water.
- A Cement factory was established to cater to the cement needs for the construction of the city which was demolished after the inauguration of the city.
- Le Corbusier divided the city into sectors.
- Almost every sector measures 800 meters by 1200 meters, covering 250 acres of area.
- Each Sector is surrounded by V-2 or V-3 roads, with no buildings opening onto them.
- There were a total of 47 sectors initially, but over time the number has increased to 56.
- As Chandigarh was designed by a French architect, it does not have Sector 13 in it. The number 13 is considered inauspicious by the French, hence it was never included in the design plan.
- A sector is divided into four parts by V-4 roads running from east to west and V-5 roads running from north to south.
- These four parts are easily identifiable as A, B, C, and D. Sector 17 is an exception. It is divided into 5 zones up to E.
- Each Sector is self-sufficient with shopping, medical, educational, and other community facilities within reasonable walking distance.
- Sector 22 in Chandigarh was the first sector where residential construction started in the early 1950s.
- Ample areas have been provided in the master plan of the Capital for trees and gardens. As a matter of fact, the green cover of the city is reaching 49% now.
- Almost every road has trees planted on both its sides.
- It is also one of the cleanest cities in India.
- Most of Chandigarh is covered by dense banyan and eucalyptus plantations.
- Deers, sambhars, barking deers, parrots, woodpeckers, and peacocks inhabit the protected forests present in the outskirts of the city.
- Tree plantation is one of the major missions of the government. Hence many free and government nurseries are available all across the city.
- There are around 26 flowering varieties and 22 tree varieties planted at different localities across the town.
- The Chandigarh government has listed 31 trees as Heritage Trees, meaning they are over 100 years old.
- There are many areas in and out of the city that are designated as gardens and sanctuaries.
- Popular gardens in the city are:
- Zakir Hussain Rose Garden
- Garden of Fragrance
- Japanese Garden
- Butterfly Park
- Terraced Garden
- Pinjore Gardens
- Topiary Park
- Botanical Garden
- Bougainvillea Garden
- Rock Garden
- Shanti Kunj
- Leisure Valley
- Hibiscus Garden
- Fitness trail
- Garden of Silence
- Cactus Garden
- Garden of Palms
- Mango Gardens
- There are Wild Life Sanctuaries also present in Chandigarh. And there naming is as follows:
- Parrot Wild Life Sanctuary
- Sukhna Lake Wild Life Sanctuary
- Bird Sanctuary
- Punjab University was established in 1882 as the University of Punjab in Lahore, the university was formed as an effect of the Hunter education committee (1882-83) during the time of the British Raj.
- The university has more than 100 teaching and research departments.
- The campus is residential and is spread out over two sectors (14 and 25) covering an area of around 550 acres (2.2 km2).
- Punjab University participated in the infamous LHC (Large Hadron Collider) project with a Government of India grant of Rs. 24.9 million.
Open Hand Monument
- It is Chandigarh’s official symbol, standing tall at the Capital Complex Sector 1.
- The Hand symbolizes “the hand to give and the hand to take: peace and prosperity, and the unity of mankind.
- The Hand is approximately 26 meters in height.
- The monument weighs around 45000 kg.
- It also rotates with the wind.
- Chandigarh has its very own technology hub, with many major companies accumulated in that area.
- It is named after former Prime Minister of India Mr. Rajiv Gandhi.
- The buildings in IT Park have some astounding architecture.
- It is one of the largest manmade lakes in North India.
- Earlier it was known as Chakraborty Lake after Birendra Narayan Chakraborty, Governor of Haryana – 1967 to 1976.
- Sukhna is a sanctuary for many exotic migratory birds like the Siberian duck, storks, and cranes, during the winter months.
- The lake has been declared as a protected national wetland by the Government of India.
- This lake has the longest channel for rowing and yachting events in Asia.
- Nek Chand, the founder of Rock Garden, started creating this garden secretly during his midnight hours in 1957.
- He used to work as a Road Inspector with the Public Works Department and spent almost 20 years creating this beautiful place.
- He uses to walk around during the day in the city to look for stones, discarded junk, tiles, Bangles, etc from nearby villages, and gathering them in a small forest patch near Sukhana Lake.
- He created over 2000 sculptures from this discarded junk.
- Initially, when the garden was discovered, it was not welcomed by open arms by the authorities. He was threatened to demolish the place. But when the public got the opportunity to witness the wonderland, they were taken aback and came in support of Nek Chand. Their support left the government with no other choice, but to support him and also give him compensation so that he could work on this project full-time. The government also provided him with an extra workforce also.
- The owner of Elante Mall is Nexus Malls.
- It is designed by the Larsen, Toubro group, and Woodhead Architects, which is an Australian firm.
- Elante Mall building is spread over 20 acres.
- Elante Mall building made within 1,150,000 sq. ft.
- It is the second-largest shopping mall in Northern India.
- It is the ninth-largest Mall in India.
- It has many branded stores and is the biggest mall in Chandigarh.
- The best part of Elante Mall is its positive contribution to the city’s economy.
Other Random facts
- The city animal of Chandigarh is Grey Mongoose.
- The fruit symbol of Chandigarh is Mango.
- The tree symbol of Chandigarh is Mangifera indica (Mango tree)
- Indian Grey Hornbill is the bird symbol of Chandigarh.
So these were some facts about the City Beautiful. It is surely one of the best cities in India. The list is not at all exhaustive and we may have missed quite a lot of facts. Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section.