Chandigarh: Where Urban Planning Meets Imagination


Chandigarh, a union territory and planned city located in northern India, serves as the joint capital of the states namely Punjab and Haryana. The city of Chandigarh was the dream city of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru and it serves to blend the monumental architecture, cultural growth, and modernisation alongside.  

Le Corbusier, a renowned Swiss-French architect and urban planner, was the main brain behind Chandigarh’s design, making it the first planned city after the country gained independence from the British Empire in 1947. Because Chandigarh skilfully combines history and modernity, it ranks among the most significant urban planning initiatives of the 20th century. The article will go through every significant detail including the historical background, design philosophies and principles, key features, legacy, and impacts of Chandigarh’s master planning.

Historical Background

With the creation of Pakistan as an independent state the same year, India became a republic. Punjab was separated into different parts as a result of the partition. With Lahore as its capital, one portion of Punjab entered Pakistani territory, and the other portion entered Indian Territory. As a result, it was determined that Punjab’s state capital needed to be relocated.

Despite Chandigarh being selected as the new location for the country’s capital in 1948, no construction there began until 1950. It was given the name Goddess Chandi Temple in memory of the well-known temple of the Hindu goddess Chandi in the neighbouring Panchkula District. After three years of construction, the country’s President at the time, Late Sri Babu Rejendra Prasad, declared India’s capital open on October 7, 1953. The Union Territory is currently under the control of the Union Government.

Architectural Vision and Design Principles

Urban Planning: City of Chandigarh
Photographer Unknown | Source

The City Beautiful movement, which was a well-liked idea in North American urban planning throughout the 1890s and 1900s, is where the motif of “The City of Beauty” originated. Jane Drew, Maxwell Fry of England, P.N. Thaper, and P.L. Verma, the chief engineer of Punjab, all provided assistance to the renowned urban designer and architect Le Corbusier. We want to construct a lovely city, said American architect and original planner of Chandigarh Albert Mayer, who left the project for various reasons. In 1970s government publications utilised the word as a logo; today, it serves as the city’s self-description.

Albert Mayer and Mathew Nowicki’s and Le Corbusier’s master plans were largely similar, with the exception of the fact that Le Corbusier changed the shape of the city plan from one with a curved road network to one with a rectangular shape with a grid iron pattern for the fast traffic roads and reduced its area for economic reasons.

Albert Mayer
Photographer Unknown

The master plan for Chandigarh was compared by Le Corbusier to the human body, with each component serving a specific purpose. These are namely Head (The capitol complex), Heart (The city centre), Lungs (The leisure valley, innumerable open spaces and sector greens), Intellect (The cultural and educational institutions), Circulatory system (The network of roads, the 7Vs), Viscera (The industrial area).

Salient Features

The city of Chandigarh is designed very efficiently to cater the need of its residents, the salient features of the city are as follows:

Sector-based Planning

Superblock or sector planning theory was used to create the town. This is a completely new method of urban planning that aims to maximise the ease and comfort of the populace. There are 47 sectors in the town, each one housing between 10,000 and 15,000 people and measuring 1.25 kilometres in length and 0.81 km in breadth. Sector 13 doesn’t exist in this town. There are three to four neighbourhood units each sector.

By supplying all of the necessities for daily life, such as retail malls, hospitals, gathering spaces, nurseries, and schools, each sector becomes essentially self-sufficient. It just takes about 30 minutes to walk around the entire area and you can get to all the schools on foot in under 15 minutes. Walking along the shaded footpaths is completely safe and comfortable thanks to a central continuous green strip of open space that runs through each zone.

Open Spaces and Landscaping in Chandigarh

With the Himalayas serving as a permanent backdrop, the town is enclosed on either side by two river beds that are about 5 km apart, and is bounded on the north by two rows of low, picturesque Siwalik Hills. It makes great use of its wealth of natural beauty. The landscape architect has chosen where and what kind of trees should be planted. Chandigarh currently has a distinct personality from an architectural standpoint. All open spaces along the road are grassed. In key sites, fountains and water basins are built.

A large ring of open space extends from one sector to the next, passing between residential neighbourhoods and business districts. A big central park is provided, along with adequate open space in each district, to accommodate community and health centres, playgrounds, and swimming pools.


Le Corbusier may have been the first of his kind to use the seven varieties of roads (7 Vs) concept in Indian urban design. He developed it for various forms of traffic. Each suburb has a large number of stores within a 10- to 15-minute walking radius, and the margins of each area have fast-moving traffic lanes. The area contains roads that are good for slow-moving vehicles. There are bike lanes and shady pedestrian pathways. Effective segmentation nearly eliminates traffic issues while keeping homes completely protected from automobiles.

Residential Units

The housing is well-designed and located in a wonderful area. Gardens and parks located in convenient areas are used by every home. Even class IV government personnel are provided with tastefully equipped quarters that have all necessary amenities like power, sanitization, water supply, etc.

These residential units have the peculiarity of having’sun-breakers’, which are fin-like projections of concrete and brick positioned at specific angles to the walls, on the simple external surfaces of the homes. These sun-breakers not only provide a beautiful, effective play of light and shade, but they also absorb the sun’s rays, keeping the homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In a democracy, this is the practical planning for the populace. As a result, Chandigarh has made history in town planning.


Even though Chandigarh is supposed to be the capital, it can nevertheless support industry. 600 acres of land have been set aside for manufacturers and industrial centres close to the railway station. The southern sector, which is also served by a railway siding, divides the residential sections from the industrial buildings with a vast green belt spanning 100 m by 150 m. Due to the industrial area’s location to the city’s leeward, the residential sections are shielded from wind. As a result, they are completely free of obnoxious sounds, smells, and dust, among other things.

Capitol Complex

Capitol Complex
Photographer Unknown

The four governmental buildings that Le Corbusier dubbed “Capitol” were his creations. The Assembly Hall, Secretariat, High Court, and Raj Bhavan are all located in the capital. The High Court is nine floors tall and has an intriguing parasol roof. These structures are monumental in nature, and in order to draw attention to the group’s excellent architectural design, he added a symbolic sculpture—the “Open Hand” monument, which stands in the Trench of Consideration and symbolises the principle of “open to give, open to receive”—to the ensemble.

Open Hand
Photographer Unknown

The “background” structures, which consist of commercial buildings, hospitals, and office complexes, are in contrast to these “foreground” structures. The capital is accessible via a gorgeous parkway and a 90 m wide road.

Legacy and Impact

Master planning of city of Chandigarh has left a long lasting impacts on urban planning of the modern day cities and maintain their architectural characters. The design mainly focuses the landscaping, green open spaces, and efficient infrastructure supporting its population. The city has been inspiration for many cities to prioritize the well-being of its residents while embracing modernity.


One of the pioneers who popularised the idea of living in a city that has been painstakingly planned, imagined, and then constructed is Le Corbusier. He forced them to think about what it would be like to live in a predetermined environment. Finally, by genuinely establishing that kind of environment, he was able to depict Chandigarh. Without a doubt, Chandigarh stands for the heroic endeavour to mend the shattered social and cultural life of the Punjab. It genuinely represents the apex of urban design.