Chandigarh Foundation Day: building blocks of the first “modern” city

On November 1, 1966, Chandigarh was declared UT when Punjab was reorganized along linguistic lines into two new states, primarily Hindi-speaking Haryana and Punjabi-speaking Punjab. In addition, Chandigarh has become the shared capital of the two states and a Union territory. This day is commemorated as the Chandigarh Foundation Day.

The Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi exhibition “Chandigarh-Down The Memory Lane”, supported by the Le Corbusier Center, brings together an assortment of period photographs that show the city in its early days.

These photographs reveal how the city has evolved and developed from the arid, flat landscape on which it was conceptualized.

As immigrants flocked to the city in search of new moorings after being displaced by the traumatic partition, institutional, cultural and residential buildings helped them move out of village life into a new, modern way of life.

Selected images capture the almost barren city before it begins to teem with people and greenery.

The exhibit seeks to celebrate the founding of a city that embodied the dreams and aspirations of thousands of Indians in search of a post-independence identity. It also acknowledges the contribution of many unknown photographers who captured rare glimpses of the city as it emerged.

Over 35 photographs on display will bring you closer to the creation of the city and also give you a glimpse of the many challenges that were taken up to “create” India’s first modern city. On display are photographs of the construction of the Assembly Building – the hall and massive porch, a technical feat within the limited resources available, the KC Theater in Sector 17 with its unique concrete dome shape that was a landmark and saw long lines especially on Fridays, and the Neelam and Jagat cinema in Sector 17 which breaks the monotony of exhibition halls and exhibits the spirit of experimentation in concrete forms .

You can also see the University of the Panjab with iconic buildings like the Gandhi Bhawan and the Museum of Fine Arts, which gave the much needed intellectual boost to the city, the former architectural firm (now Le Corbusier Center), the source of the city where the planning and detailing of Chandigarh was done by a dedicated team of architects and a double-decker bus that seems overshadowed in front of the secretariat of the Capitol Complex – the tallest building in Chandigarh with its articulation ingenious facade.

Numerous photographs show how brick became the muse of architects for its cheap availability and ease of use, as shown in a photograph of a curvilinear perimeter wall in Sector 23. A photo of a row of Whitehouses in Sector 22 shows how barren the site was before the green blanket blossomed, although services were in place long before construction began. The exhibition is at the CLKA Gallery at the Underpass Connecting Sector-17 to Rose Garden from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. until November 14.