Ethnic alienation and religiously-fuelled homicide underlined the partition of India and Pakistan, cutting through the heart of erstwhile Punjab. In the aftermath, India lost Lahore, a great city etched in history, both in red and gold.
A need for an ideal replacement was almost immediate. Within two years, Chandigarh – named after the Hindu Goddess Chandi – was decreed. It would to serve as the capital of Indian Punjab and was envisioned to be the benchmark of good governance and social order.
Initial architectural designs were laid out by the world-renowned Albert Mayer and his colleague Matt Nowicki but rising costs and an untimely demise of the city-planner forced the Indian delegation to bring in the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. And rest, they say, is history.
It’s the city of dreams born out of a nightmare. Set in the foothills of the picturesque Shivalik Ranges of the Himalayas, it marries modernity to traditional ideals. Its cleanliness is highlighted by its green cover of road-fencing trees and sprawling gardens alike.
Various attributes of the city can put weight behind the reasons of numerous tourists that visit City Beautiful. Besides the famous architecture and greenery, what sets this city apart from many others are its intangibles. Certain aspects that evoke those feelings of sense and sensibility, warmth and hospitality. Seemingly, it is hard to pen down these invisibles but here it is:
An eclectic mix of culture from the haryanvi Panchkula and the Punjabi Mohali make Chandigarh so much richer in culture and diversity. Metamorphisising into a true urban metropolitan, this city has a triple dose of food and fandom, literature and langauge, and everything in between.
Nomenclature of smaller units that make up the city is governed by simple numbers. These units are called sectors, ranging from 1 to 56 and 13 being absent. This makes life much, much easier for everyone, especially the postman. Why? Because the address of a place wont take eight lines filled with named streets and societies. Four, at most, would suffice.
And almost every sector is fully-functional ecosystem in itself. This trait of the city is by design, not by destiny. A marketplace to cater to daily needs, a playground for sport enthusiasts and religious places for God-believing individual. Having basic amenities at short distances is somewhat reassuring and also, it makes for a very habitable place.
What truly corroborates the beauty of these factors is its accessibility. No construct, physical or otherwise, is too far. The relatively small size of the city (114 sq. km) helps locals and tourists alike to navigate quickly and happily. No traffic snarls coupled with magnificent roads make intra-city travelling a delight. On a good day, one end of the city is only 20 mins away from the opposite end.
Now we know what made City Beautiful the perfect city in the world.
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