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History of Chandigarh


Chandigarh, one of the Union Territories of India is indebted to a Chandi temple and an adjoining fort for its name. The history of Chandigarh is really captivating. Chandi is a goddess of Hindus and Garh means fort. On the vicinity of today’s hustling and bustling city of Chandigarh, one could easily find this ancient temple. However, the city of Chandigarh has a primitive story to tell, a story that was born before the birth of the city. Chandigarh, as you will discover now, is located at the foothills of Shibalik range of Himalayas. The place was a large lake at the antediluvian ages. The fossils of marine creatures and amphibians prove this geological theory. The more fascinating, about 8000 years ago, when human civilization was in its infancy, Chandigarh as place used to be inhabited by the Harappans. Remember that Harappa is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. During 1950s and 60s excavation work, the vestiges of the rich civilization were dug out. These emblems are counted as some important documents for the study of the ancient history of Chandigarh.

But modern history of Chandigarh is the same fascinating as the primeval history of the area is. Chandigarh came into limelight when India was divided in 1947. The earlier capital of Punjab was Lahore which eventually fell into Pakistan territory. The bisected Punjab needed a new capital and three regions were nominated for the same. Chandigarh was given preference over Ludhiana and Ambala because the cost of acquirement was estimated much less than the other two. Chandigarh was also selected as the place is at a good distance from the Pakistan border. At this point of time, Government of Punjab planned to construct a new city within the environs of the old Chandigarh.

The history of Chandigarh now entered a disturbed state. The extended Chandigarh city needed 58 villages for acquisition which meant a complete replacement of 6228 families. It resulted in a massive agitation. The activists built up an Anti Capital Committee and started to campaign fervently. This made the construction work bogged down and it took two long years for the government to come to a final decision. In December 1949, the Government of Punjab came up to American city planner Albert Mayer who took up the construction work along with another American architect, Matthew Nowicki. Mayer made the city blue-print in the shape of an alluvial cone. By this, the planned city got bedded between two rivers. On the third wing of Chandigarh, the Shibalik range exists now. The new city was intersected by super blocks. Each super block was segregated in three parts each of which got dedicated to different purpose. Thus the history of Chandigarh took a new turn as the new city was all set to emerge as one of the well-planned cities of India.

This draft impressed well the supervisors of the project, Mr. P N Thapar and Mr. P L Verma who stated thereafter to consider how the city can be materialized according to the master plan. They approached Le Corbusier, a famous European architect of that time and he built the final plan to build the city of Chandigarh. He was accompanied by several other architects and added a touch of artistry to the city buildings. The buildings were made of bumpy bricks in proper geometrical shapes which is now an identity of the city of Chandigarh. Thus the modern history of Chandigarh walked the way of modernity. Today, Chandigarh is capital of both the states Punjab and Hariyana and itself an Union Territory.