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Chandigarh

Chandigarh is set at the foothills of the Himalayas, a 40-minute flight from Delhi, with the distant Shivalik Hills looming in the distance, home to the Chandi Mandir temple from which it got its name. The city was built post-Independence as the new joint capital of the Punjab and Haryana states (former capital Lahore fell within the confines of new Pakistan after partition).

It was designed in the 1950s by socialist Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier and holds the distinction of being India's first and only planned city. It has grown to be the commercial hub of North India and is fast emerging as an ITES centre. This young-at-heart, fast-growing and progressive city is striking due to its urban planning, impressive buildings and well-organised sectors including geometrical residential quarters.

Its famous Le Corbusier-designed Capitol Complex (made up of the Legislative Assembly, Secretariat and High Court) and the intriguing sculptures of the Rock Garden are the main sites for visitors on an architectural pilgrimage. A major force in 20th century architecture, Le Corbusier’s radical urban designs can be seen worldwide from Paris to Brasilia to New York, and it is fascinating to see the contrast of Modern Brutalist architecture in this Indian city setting. Chandigarh gives you the feeling of walking through a living and breathing social experiment.

Chandigarh is a wealthy, happy city with plenty of green spaces and an egalitarian feel. It is a very pleasant place to visit, perhaps best suited to visitors with an interest in architecture or those who have explored India before and will appreciate how remarkably different Chandigarh is to all other Indian cities.

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