This legendry proverb aptly describes the birth of the city of Chandigarh, which was conceived immediately after India‘s Independence in 1947. With the partition in the subcontinent, Lahore, the capital of undivided Punjab fell within Pakistan, leaving East Punjab without a Capital. It was decided to built a new Capital city called Chandigarh about 240 kms. north of New Delhi on a gently sloping terrain with foothills of the Himalayas the Shivalik range of the North and two Seasonal rivulets flowing on its two sides approximately 7-8 kms apart. The geographical location of the city is 30 degree 50′ N latitude and 76 degree 48′ longitude and it lies at an altitude varying from 304.8 to 365.76 meters above sea level.

Fact File
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Independent India’s first Prime Minister, laid down the founding principles of the new city when he said “Let this be a new town, symbolic of freedom of India unfettered by the traditions of the past….. an expressions of the nation’s faith in the future”. The city is a product of Nehru’s vision.

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 (average) 1110.7 mm
Monsoon July-September
Temperature Winter Min. (Nov.-Jan, 2006) 10 C-160 C

Summer Max. (April-July, 2004) 270C-440C

Prevalent Winds From the North West to South East in Winter and reverse in Summer
Total Population (2001 census) 9,00,635 (Rural population-92120 (10.2%)

(Urban population-808515 (89.8%)

Density of population/sq. km. 7,900
Birth Rate (per 1000) 21.45 (2005)
Death Rate (per 1000) 10.22 (2005)
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000) 44.13
Sex Ratio (females per 1000 males) 777
Decennial Population Growth 40.33%
Literacy Rate 81.9%


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.

Park Areas

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.

Population Growth in the City

Chandigarh was planned for a population of half-a-million. In Phase I, 36 sq km of land was acquired by the city administration for construction of 30 sectors. Land for seventeen additional sectors (Sector 31 to 47) was acquired and developed during the second phase to cater for a population of 350,000. The predominance of ¾ storey apartments in the second phase provide for higher population dimension. However, Chandigarh has now grown beyond its planned capacity. Hence, development in the third phase has started in sectors 48 and beyond. Demographic data indicate that between 1961 and 1971, the population increased by 144.59 percent, one of the highest for urban areas in India. According to 1981 census, it grew by another 75.55 percent, followed by 42.16 percent in 1991 and by 40.33 per cent in 2001 (with a total population of 9,00,635). By 2021 the population of Chandigarh is projected to be around 19.5 lacs (at current rate of growth) almost four times for which it was originally built.


To select a suitable site, the Govt. of Punjab appointed a Committee in 1948 under the Chairmanship of P.L Verma, Chief Engineer to assess and evaluate the existing towns in the State for setting up the proposed capital of Punjab. However, none was found suitable on the basis of several reasons, such as military vulnerability, shortage of drinking water, inaccessibility, inability to cope in flux of large number of refugees etc. The present site was selected in 1948 taking into account various attributes such as its Central location in the state, proximity to the national capital & availability of sufficient water supply, fertile of soil, gradient of land for natural drainage, beautiful site with the panorama of blue hills as backdrop & moderate climate.


An American Firm, M/s. Mayer, Whittlessay and Glass was commissioned in 1950 to prepare the Master Plan for the new City. Albert Mayer and Mathew Novicki evolved a fan shaped Master Plan and worked out conceptual sketches of the super block. The super block was designed as a self –sufficient neighborhood units placed along the curvilinear roads and comprised of cluster type housing, markets and centrally located open spaces. Novicki was tragically killed in an air accident and Mayer decided to discontinue. Thereafter, the work was assigned to a team of architects led by Charles Eduard Jeanneret better known as Le Corbusier in 1951.

He was assisted by three senior architects, Maxwell Fry, his wife Jane B Drew and Corbusier’s cousin, Pierre Jeanneret. These senior architects were supported by a team of young Indian architect and planner consisting of M.N. Sharma, A. R. Prabhawalkar, U.E. Chowdhary, J.S. Dethe, B.P. Mathur, Aditya Prakash, N.S. Lanbha and others.

The Master Plan was developed by Le Corbusier who also designed the Capital Complex and established the architectural control & design of the main building of the city. The design of housing for Govt. employees, schools, shopping centers, hospitals were disturbed among the three senior architects.

Maxwell Fry and Jane B. Drew worked for about three years on the project and then left due to their engagements elsewhere. Pierre Jeanneret who ultimately became the Chief Architect and Town Planning Adviser to Govt. of Punjab returned to Switzerland in 1965. M.N. Sharma took over from Pierre Jeanneret as the first Indian Chief Architect of the Project and after the reorganization of the State of Punjab in 1966 and the establishment of Union Territory, Chandigarh, he was appointed as Administrative Secretary of the Department of Architecture in the Chandigarh Administration. The major buildings designed by these architects are the important landmarks in the city.

Le Corbusier

Pierre Jeanneret

Maxwell Fry

Jane B. Drew

Le Corbusier’s Master Plan

‘The Master plan prepared by Le Corbusier was broadly similar to the one prepared by the team of planners led by Albert Mayer and Mathew Novicki except that the shape of the city plan was modified from one with a curving road network to rectangular shape with a grid iron pattern for the fast traffic roads, besides reducing its area for reason of economy. The city plan was conceived as post war ‘Garden City’ wherein vertical and high rise buildings were ruled out, keeping in view the socio economic-conditions and living habits of the people.

Due to economic constraints, the master plan was to be realized in two phases, catering to a total population of half a million. Phase-I consisting of 30 low density sector spread over an area of 9000 acres (Sector 1 to 30) for 1,50,000 people whereas Phase-II consisting of 17 considerably high density Sectors ( Sectors 31 to 47) spread over an area of 6000 acres for a population of 3,50,000.


The primary module of city’s design is a Sector, a neighborhood unit of size 800 meters x 1200 meters. It is a self-sufficient unit having shops, school, health centers and places of recreations and worship. The population of a sector varies between 3000 and 20000 depending upon the sizes of plots and the topography of the area. The shops are located along the V4 street (shopping street), which runs North-West to South-East across the sector. Every sector is introvert in character and permits only 4 vehicular entries into its interior.

The shopping street of each sector is linked to the shopping street of the adjoining sectors thus forming one long, continuous ribbon like shopping street. The central green of each Sector also stretches to the green of the next sector.


Le Corbusier’s traffic system followed Mayer’s lines but was more elaborate; he called it Les Sept Voies de Circulation, or Seven Vs. The rationale of his planning was the motor car. “From his early studies in urbanism, Le Corbusier had identified the motor car as the central factor of modern town planning. His initial, primarily aesthetic, quasi-Futurist response to the motor car and to rapid movement in the cities had, by 1950, metamorphosed into a theoretical solution to the problems of modern traffic — a graded system of circulation, from crossing continents to walking to the front door. [As Le Corbusier put it] ‘The 7 Vs act in the town plan as the bloodstream, the lymph system and the respiratory system act in biology. These systems are quite rational, they are different from each other, there is no confusion between them, yet they are in harmony … It is for us to learn from them when we are organising the ground that lies beneath our feet. The 7Vs are no longer the sinister instruments of death, but become an organised hierarchy of roads which can bring modern traffic circulation under control’.” [ Prasad Sunand, 1987].

The 7Vs establishes a hierarchy of traffic circulation ranging from : arterial roads (V1), major boulevards (V2) sector definers (V3), shopping streets (V4), neighbourhood streets (V5), access lanes (V6) and pedestrian paths and cycle tracks (V7s and V8s). The essence of his plan for Chandigarh rests on preserving intact the true functions of these seven types of roads.[For details see Le Corbusier’s Statue of Land]

The entrance of cars into the sectors, which are exclusively reserved to family life, can take place on four points only; in the middle of the 1,200 meters; in the middle of the 800 meters. All stoppage of circulation shall be prohibited at the four circuses, at the angles of the sectors. The bus stops are provided each time at 200 meters from the circus so as to served the four pedestrian entrances into a sector. Thus the transit traffic takes place out of the sectors; the sectors being surrounded by four wall-bound car roads without openings (the V3s).

The road system was so designed that “never a door will open on the surrounding V3s: precisely the four surrounding V3s must be separated from the sector by a blind wall all along.” Buses can ply on the V4s, the horizontal connection between contiguous sectors, but not within the sector interiors. [Evenson, Norma, 1966]

Architecture Control

A suitable conglomeration of natural and built environment is essential for every sustainable habitation. Chandigarh’s sustainability stems from its modern urbanism planned in harmony with the elements. Unlike old towns and cities of India, it was planned as a new city unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of India’s new found freedom and a step into the future. A number of factors have contributed to it’s sustainability:

A City with a goal

The city was planned as an administrative center assuring all amenities to all classes of people to lead a dignifies life. The city achieved this agenda with aplomb precision. However, the quest doesn’t end here. The city continues to grow in response to its people’s needs and happily, this growth is regulated through an edict to prolong its sustainability.

Suitable Site with climate responsive Architecture

The location of the site of the city has contributed immensely to its sustainability. It had a number of natural advantages such as stability (bearing capacity of soil), favourable water supply conditions, natural ground slope, inexhaustible supply of building materials in the vicinity etc. The city has an extreme climate-cold winters warm dry summers and the humid monsoon season. Accordingly, the architectural vocabulary for the city’s physical environment includes vernacular shading devices and features such as sunshades (chajjas), fenestrations, parasols, louvers, verandahs, brick jails & courtyards all aimed at natural climate control at micro level.

The city is mostly built in brick, stone and shutter finish concrete, which is not only available in abundance locally but also translates into provocative aesthetic forms. Besides, the less maintenance cost of material furthers the cause of sustainability.

Labour intensive Development with Eco Friendly Techniques

The skyline of the city is predominantly four storeyed achieved through cheap & plentiful manpower. This was also in consonance with the low economy and stringent budget for the new capital. Infact, the low cost materials and techniques employed in building construction served as a model in other parts of the nation also. Standardisation of building components such as the roof spans, lintel size, door and window opening size and shape ensured quality and cost control.


Chandigarh has four main work centers :

  • The Capitol Complex in the north-east
  • The Educational institutes in the north-west
  • The City Centre in the heart
  • The industrial area in the south-east


The Capitol Complex is the focal point if the city, both visually and symbolically whose architectural whose architecture is considering to be the most representative of Le Corbusier’s work. This complex of Govt. buildings representing all three essential components of a complete democracy the Legislature, the executive and the judiciary stands against the blue silhouette of lower Shivalik ranges, on the foothills of Himalayas. The Capitol Complex is the embodiment of the spirit of exaltation, power & permanence experienced by Indians on acquiring self government after long, bitter struggle for freedom.

The Capitol area was designed as a great pedestrian plaza with motorized traffic confined to sunken trenches. The complex is planned on a cross axis wherein rigid symmetry has been avoided in placement of various buildings.

The three major components of the Capitol are the Assembly (Legislation), the Secretariat (Administration) and the High Court (Judiciary). While the linear façade of the Secretariat marks the edges of the Complex on the left side, the Assembly and the High Court are placed on the opposite ends of the Cross axis, facing each other across a 450 mtrs. Esplanade where a number of monuments symbolizing Le Corbusier’s theories of City planning have been placed. These include the Open Hand monument, often called the B ‘Monument of Chandigarh’ conveying ‘open to give, open to receive’. These symbolic forms were designed by Corbusier as a means to punctuate the axis of the Complex. Other monuments included the Martyrs Memorial- a tribute to the martyrs of the Punjab partition and the Tower of Shadows – a demonstration of Corbusiers’s theories of sun control.

Another important component of the Capitol, which is yet to be built, is the Museum of Knowledge.

The High Court

The High Court building is L-shaped in plan with the long façade facing the capitol plaza. The building has a rectilinear frame with eight nos. courtrooms located on the main façade, separated from the larger ‘Chief Justice’ Court by a monumental, pillared entrance, extending to the full height of the entrance. This massive entrance bears a close resemblance to the Buland Darwaza of Fatehpur Sikri.

The small Courts are 8x8x12 meters. The dimensions of the over all design were governed by the Modular combined with triangular regulating lines.

The design of the High Court is an embodiment of the climate responsive architecture as conceived by Corbusier for the new city. It was planned that the design should permit the government to function through out the year, furnishing protection from the sun and monsoon rains. Accordingly, double roof was provided, the upper roof placed over the lower roof was provided in the manner of a parasol, shading the lower roof. The space between the two roofs is left open to enable air currents to move. The parasol roof slopes towards the centre in the form of a row of arches.

The High Court building, when completed in 1956 proved to be insufficient in space. Therefore, an extension (annex) was proposed and completed in 1962 in which additional courtroom spaces were provided, this is a brick structure consisting of a group of blocks receding to the rear of the High Court block, neither asserting visually, nor disrupting the existing Layout plan.


The Secretariat building is a long, horizontal concrete slab form, 254 meters long and 42 meters high, which marks the edge of the Capitol Complex on the left side. The building is composed of six eight storeyed blocks separated by expansion joints and bears close resemblance to the Marseilles apartment block, one of Corbusier’s earlier projects.

The facade of the building gives a sculptural appearance with exposed concrete ramps, perforated with small square windows dominating the front and rear views. The building façade is provided with projects for sun control.

The Secretariat building helps in defining space of the Capitol Complex. It emphasize a sense of hierarchy of facades and by its sheer cliff like size and volume, completes the vista through distant mountains, where eye is led onwards to the smalle3r, more significant buildings and space beyond.


The Assembly building, completed in 1962, was conceived as a horizontal rectilinear structure square in plan with a monumental portico facing the main plaza. The two legislative chambers were conceived as free standing, curvilinear forms enclosed within a rectilinear shell, carrying on one side the entrance portico and on the opposite side of band of offices. Sun protection louvers ‘brise soleil’ have been provid4ed on lateral walls for protecting glazings against sun. The two legislative chambers are surrounded by a space ‘forum’ which serves for circulation as well as informal meetings.

The most impressive part of the Assembly is the Assembly Chamber (Punjab Assembly), which is crowned by a massive hyperbolic tower, extending above the roofline and providing a sculptural & dramatic look against the backdrop of distant hills 128 ft. in diameter at the base the Assembly chamber rises to 124ft. at its highest point. This building expresses the versatility and plasticity of concrete as a building material. Similarly, the smaller Council Chamber (Haryana Assembly) conceived in a rectilinear frame is crowned by a pyramidal roof, provided with a North light.

Overall, the Assembly building with nits dramatic skyline is one of the most visually appealing aspects of the Capitol Complex and is an attempt to give an architectural setting of monumental dignity to the functions of the Government.

The University and the Educational Zone

The Panjab University with its various departments and the adjoining various government technical and non-technical colleges, together form the educational zone of the city. Initially, the plan of the University and temporary Administrative Block was designed by J.K.Chowdhury. The Master Plan was later reorganized by Pierre Jeanneret alongwith designing of all major buildings including Gandhi Bhawan and the Administrative Block, Arts and science teaching blocks. In this task he was assisted by B.P.Mathur. The most distinctive and well-known landmark of the Panjab University is the ‘Gandhi Bhawan’ building which is lotus shaped, appearing as if floating in a pool of water. Gandhi Bhawan forms the focal point on the main North-East to South-West axis and is of major architectural importance. Adjacent to the university in sector-11 are the two undergraduate colleges; one for men and the other for women, which were planned by Maxwell Fry.

To the north of the university is located at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. It is a multi-facility, super speciality referral institute with a 1300 bedded hospital attached to it. This institute put Chandigarh on the medical map of India and patients come here from all over the country. The first phase of the including the Hospital and Research Blocks were designed by Pierre Jeanneret, in which he was assisted be Jeet Malhotra and H.S.Chopra. After Jeanneret left, the remaining works were done by M.N.Sharma who was the Chief Architect and was assisted by O.P.Mehta.

The City Center

The City Centre representing the heart of the city lies at the intersection of two main axial Roads, Madhya Marg and Jan Marg. Designed on a monumental scale of uniform four-storied concrete buildings, it is laid out along four pedestrian promenades intersecting at a nodal point, where all civic buildings are located. There is a central chowk or a piazza marking the crossing of two-wi9de pedestrian ways running north-east to south-west and north-west to south-east. Around this chowk are created the most important civic and commercial buildings, the town hall, the central library and the General Post and Telegraph office, large cinemas, commercial houses and banks.

Besides the monuments that mark the large piazza, there are a number of attractive structures in the piazza. The City Centre contains large shopping stores, office buildings, banks and cinemas and other public buildings. The three water fountains amidst the central piazza or the chowk are the focal point of the sector, which were designed by M. N. Sharma. The city centre is landscaped with trees, which presents a subtle contrast of form and colour against the concrete facades. This sector also houses the district courts, the central police station and the inter-state bus terminus.

Industrial Area

Located in, the south-east side of the city close to the railway station and wholesale markets of the city, the Industrial Area provides easy access to the goods, transport centre and wholesale market. Its location while planning was decided after taking into account factors such as the proximity on the access road for the entry of raw materials and exit of finished goods without having to go through the populated streets disturbing the peace of the town, thus keeping the pollution zone away from the city. Further, a buffer zone has been provided between the industrial area and the residential and administrative spaces.


‘The functions of living occupies primary place. Keeping in view the habits of he peoples, Le Corbusier planned that every dwelling should have three elements of Sun, Space and greenery. The housing in the city can be sub-divided into two parts- Government housing and Private Housing.

Government Housing

The Govt. housing in the city was divided into 13 categories, ranging from the house for the Chief Minister to the two-room house completer with sanitary facilities, a kitchen, a verandah and a courtyard for the lowest paid employee. The socio economic conditions of the city restricted the height of most of the residential buildings to two to three storeyed structures.

Private House-Controlled Development

In view of the needs of various economic classes, plots of areas ranging from 114sq. mtrs. To 4500 sq. mtrs. were planned. The living habits of the people are of outdoor type because of hot summers and hot and humid rainy seasons comprising most part of the year.

Keeping this factor in view, Corbusier conceived a series of Architectural Controls / frame controls/ zoning regulations for each and every category of houses in which it was mandatory to provide open to sky courtyard both at he front and rear side of every house. These courts provided light and ventilation to houses besides serving as private open-to-sky spaces. A series of such houses were planned around community level open space which served the purpose of holding social and religious functions and outdoor activities and games by children.

City’s Green

The hierarchy of open space is prominently visible in the city. At the city level, the open space consist of the Leisure Valley and special gardens. At sector level, the open space constitute the central green in each sector whereas open space at community level consist of parks around which clusters of houses re arranged. The smallest category of open space is the courtyards provided in each dwelling on the front and rear side.

Interactive Map of Chandigarh is available click the link bellow:

Chandigarh  Interactive City Map    Interactive Map of Chandigarh click here



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