Chandigarh, the dream city of India’s first Prime Minister, Sh. Jawahar Lal Nehru, was planned by the famous French architect Le Corbusier. Picturesquely located at the foothills of Shivaliks, it is known as one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture in the twentieth century in India.Chandigarh derives its name from the temple of “Chandi Mandir” located in the vicinity of the site selected for the city. The deity ‘Chandi’, the goddess of power and a fort of ‘garh’ laying beyond the temple gave the city its name “Chandigarh-The City Beautiful”.
The city has a pre-historic past. The gently sloping plains on which modern Chandigarh exists, was in the ancient past, a wide lake ringed by a marsh. The fossil remains found at the site indicate a large variety of aquatic and amphibian life, which was supported by that environment. About 8000 years ago the area was also known to be a home to the Harappans.
Since the medieval through modern era, the area was part of the large and prosperous Punjab Province which was divided into East & West Punjab during partition of the country in 1947. The city was conceived not only to serve as the capital of East Punjab, but also to resettle thousands of refugees who had been uprooted from West Punjab.
In March, 1948, the Government of Punjab, in consultation with the Government of India, approved the area of the foothills of the Shivaliks as the site for the new capital. The location of the city site was a part of the erstwhile Ambala district as per the 1892-93 gazetteer of District Ambala. The foundation stone of the city was laid in 1952. Subsequently, at the time of reorganization of the state on 01.11.1966 into Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pardesh, the city assumed the unique distinction of being the capital city of both, Punjab and Haryana while it itself was declared as a Union Territory and under the direct control of the Central Government.
The basic geographical and demographic profile of Chandigarh is as under:
Area: 114 sq kms
Longitude: 760 47′ 14E
Latitude: 300 44′ 14N
Altitude: 304-365 meters above MSL with 1% drainage gradient
Annual Rainfall (2016): 910 mm
Temperature: Winter Min. (Nov.-Jan, 2016) 20C – 100 C
Summer Max. (April-July, 2004): 380C – 430C
Prevalent Winds: From the North West to South East in Winter and reverse in Summer
Total Population (2011 census): 1,055,45
Density of population/sq. km.: 9,258
Birth Rate (per 1000): 11.95 (2016)
Death Rate (per 1000): 2.65 (2016)
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000): 7.96 (2016)
Sex Ratio (females per 1000 males): 818
Decennial Population Growth: 17.19%
Literacy Rate: 86.0%
The Union Territory of Chandigarh is located in the foothills of the Shivalik hill ranges in the north, which form a part of the fragile Himalayan ecosystem. It is occupied by Kandi (Bhabhar) in the north east and Sirowal (Tarai) and alluvial plains in the remaining part. The subsurface formation comprises of beds of boulders, pebbles, gravel, sand, silt, clays and some kankar. The area is drained by two seasonal rivulets viz. 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 initiates at Sector 29.
Chandigarh falls under Koeppen’s CWG category i.e. it has cold dry winter, hot summer and sub tropical monsoon. Evaporation usually exceeds precipitation and the weather is generally dry.
The area experiences four seasons : (i) Summer or hot season (mid-March to Mid-June) (ii) Rainy season (late-June to mid-September); (iii) Post monsoon autumn/transition season (mid September to mid-November); (iv) Winter (mid November to mid-March). The dry spell of summer is long but with the occasional drizzles or thunder storms. May and June are the hottest months of the year with the mean daily maximum & minimum temperatures being about 370C & 250C, respectively. Maximum temperatures can rise up to 440C. Southwest monsoons with high intensity showers commence in late June. The weather at this time is hot and humid. The variation in annual rainfall on year to year basis is appreciable i.e. 700 mm to 1200 mm. The 20 year average rainfall for Chandigarh is 1100.7 mm. January is the coldest month with mean maximum and minimum temperatures being around 230C and 3.60C respectively. Winds are generally light and blow from northwest to southeast direction with exception of easterly to southeasterly winds that blow on some days during the summer season.
The Master Plan of Chandigarh
Le Corbusier conceived the master plan of Chandigarh as analogous to human body, with a clearly defined head (the Capitol Complex, Sector 1), heart (the City Centre Sector-17), lungs ( the leisure valley, innumerable open spaces and sector greens), the intellect (the cultural and educational institutions), the circulatory system (the network of roads, the 7Vs) and the viscera (the Industrial Area). The concept of the city is based on four major functions: living, working, care of the body and spirit and circulation. Residential sectors constitute the living part whereas the Capitol Complex, City Centre, Educational Zone (Post Graduate Institute, Punjab Engineering College, Panjab University) and the Industrial Area constitute the working part. The Leisure Valley, Gardens, Sector Greens and Open Courtyards etc. are for the care of body and spirit. The circulation system comprises of 7 different types of roads known as 7Vs. Later on, a pathway for cyclists called V8 were added to this circulation system.
The Capital complex comprises three architectural masterpieces: the “Secretariat”, the “High Court” and the “Legislative Assembly”, separated by large piazzas. In the heart of the Capital Complex stands the giant metallic sculpture of The Open Hand, the official emblem of Chandigarh, signifying the city’s credo of “open to given, open to receive”.
The city centre (Sector 17) is the heart of Chandigarh’s activities. It comprises the Inter-State Bus Terminus, Parade Ground, District Courts, etc. on one hand, and vast business and shopping center on the other. The 4-storey concrete buildings house banks and offices above and showrooms/shops at the ground level with wide pedestrian concourses. The Neelam piazza in the center has fountains with light and water features. Proposal to set up an eleven storey building in Sector 17 is in the offing. Sector 34 is another newly developed commercial sector.
Ample areas have been provided in the master plan of the Capital for parks. Out of a total area of 20,000 acres acquired for the first phase, about 2000 acres are meant for development of parks. Leisure Valley, Rajendra park, Bougainvillea Park, Zakir Rose Garden, Shanti Kunj, Hibiscus Garden, Garden of Fragrance, Botanical Garden, Smriti Upavan, Topiary garden and Terraced Garden are some of the famous parks of Chandigarh. Sukhna Lake, Rock Garden, Government Museum and Art Gallery are major tourist attractions of Chandigarh.
One unique feature in the layout of Chandigarh is its roads, classified in accordance with their functions. An integrated system of seven roads was designed to ensure efficient traffic circulation. Corbusier referred to these as the 7’Vs. the city’s vertical roads run northeast/southwest (the ‘Paths’). The horizontal roads run northwest/southwest (‘The Margs’). The intersect at right angles, forming a grid or network for movement.
This arrangement of road-use leads to a remarkable hierarchy of movement, which also ensures that the residential areas are segregated from the noise and pollution of traffic.
Each ‘Sector’ or the neighboured unit, is quite similar to the traditional Indian ‘mohalla’, Typically, each sectors measures 800 metres by 1200 metres, covering 250 acres of area. Each Sector is surrounded by V-2 or V-3 roads, with no buildings opening on to them. Access from the surrounding roads is available only at 4 controlled points, which roughly mark the middle of each side. Typically a sector is divided in four parts by a V-4 road running from east to west and a V-5 road running from north to south. These four parts are easily identifiable as A, B, C and D corresponding to North, East, South and West sides. Each Sector is meant to be self-sufficient, with shopping and community facilities within reasonable walking distance.
Though educational, cultural and medical facilities are spread all over city, however, major institutions are located in Sectors 10, 11, 12, 14 and 26.
The industrial area comprises 2.35 sq kms, set-aside in the Master Plan for non-polluting, light industry on the extreme southeastern side of the city near the railway line, as far away from the Educational Sectors and Capitol Complex as possible.
Tree plantation and landscaping has been an integral part of the city¿s Master Plan. Twenty six different types of flowering and 22 species of evergreen trees (Sing et. Al., 1998) have been planted along the roads, in parking areas, shopping complexes, residential areas and in the city parks, to ameliorate the harsh climate of the region, especially the hot and scorching summers.