Chandigarh –– A Symbol of Modernity and Independence

India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wanted Chandigarh to become a monumental city symbolizing India’s bright future of modernity, progress, and independence, as it was the first city built after India’s independence from British rule in 1947. Le Corbusier, the master planner of Chandigarh, rejected the traditional Gandhian philosophy that villages symbolized India, and instead, accentuated the city’s focus on modernity and technology through regional planning. The city’s various regions, or “Sectors” had specific purposes assigned to them as exemplified by The Capitol in Sector 1 (the head) and commercial buildings in Sector 17 (the heart). Le Corbusier also utilized iconographic monuments to mix tradition and modernity in Chandigarh. The famous Open Hand monument in The Capitol symbolizes strength and resilience through adversity as well as the natural ebbs-and-flows of life. Despite Le Corbusier’s intent to build a democratic and modern city, Chandigarh’s design received criticism for facilitating class segregation.

BHARNE, VINAYAK. “Le Corbusier’s Ruin: The Changing Face of Chandigarh’s Capitol.” Journal of Architectural Education (1984-), vol. 64, no. 2, 2011, pp. 99–112.
GHOSH, NABAPARNA. “Modern Designs: History and Memory of Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh.” Journal of Architecture and Urbanism, vol. 40, no. 3, 2016, pp. 220-228.

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