Urban or Retreat?


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Time Magazine recently published a list of places in Asia claimed to be the best for the Mind, Body and Soul. It was indeed very surprising to see Chandigarh to be named an example demonstrating Best Application of Corbusian Principles. The city is literally devoid of any neon and “numbered housing “sectors” are egalitarian, the setting almost too tranquil.” writes John Krich. Modernism perhaps at its best or I should say Corbusier’s best in terms of urban planning, Nehru decided to build his socialist vision by engaging the Swiss master builder for setting up the state capital of a divided Punjab. The concrete edifices although magnificent, are “in dire need of applied-for World Heritage protection”

Methodical and thought out…...is the spirit behind the entire scheme of the city. Set amidst gardens and parklands is the smooth flowing traffic.

It feels very ironic to see that the urban setting can be considered as a “retreat” site. Though Krish very aptly points out to the old vision of modernism is being substituted by a new vision of business-oriented growth, commercial spread and consumerist excess, however these concrete buildings are testament to a time and reason for Chandigarh to exist in the first place. I would say to critics who question Chandigarh’s “Indianness” should consider that India is becoming or has become an political (the biggest democracy in the world), economic, cultural (Slumdog millionaire..wink!) powerhouse, a force perhaps to reckon with. I agree with Krich when he says “the world still waits for that “era of harmony” Le Corbusier promised to advance here. There is still work to be done.

*Source: Time Magazine