After the partition of South Asia into the two states of India and Pakistan in 1947, Indian Punjab needed a new capital city to replace Lahore, that was now in Pakistan. After several plans to make additions to existing cities were found to be infeasible for various reasons, the decision to construct a new city was taken. Of all the new town schemes in independent India, the Chandigarh project quickly assumed prime significance, because of the city's strategic location as well as Jawaharlal Nehru's (the first Prime Minister of independent India) personal interest in it. Commissioned by Nehru to reflect the new nation's modern, progressive outlook, Nehru famously proclaimed Chandigarh to be "unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation's faith in the future." Several buildings in Chandigarh were designed by the Swiss-born French architect and planner, Le Corbusier in the 1950s. Le Corbusier was in fact the second architect of the city, after the initial master plan was prepared by the American architect-planner Albert Mayer who was working with the Polish-born architect Matthew Nowicki. It was only after Nowicki's untimely death in 1950 that Le Corbusier was pulled into the project.
The Sukhna Lake:
Lake was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills. The roof of the ‘bund’ or dam, elegantly landscaped has become a favourite promenade. Serious ‘walkers’ pursue an exercise regime, families enjoy an evening stroll, painters and photographers mingle with children on roller skates – to partake of this extraordinary amenity.
The Rock Garden:
An unpretentious entrance leads to a magnificent, almot surrealist arrangement of rock fossils, broken chinaware, discarded fluorescent tubes, broken and cast away glass bangles, building waste, coal and clay – all juxtaposed to create a dream folk world of palaces, soldiers, monkeys, village life, women and temples.
The Open Hand:
This giant hand in metal sheet rises 26 meters from a sunken french and rotates freely in the wind from a high concrete pedestal, conveying the symbolic message "Open to give, open to receive". Conspicuous by its scale, the Open Hand is the official emblem of the city. The design of this emblem as of the monument was conceived entirely by Le Corbusier.
Across the large expanse of paved space and not far from the Museum was the Art Gallery, referred to as the "Pavillion of Temporary Exhibitions". The buildings of both the museum and the art gallery were realised after the death of Le Corbusier, but strictly according to his designs.
The creation of the City museum Chandigarh is one of the several activities pursued by the UT Administration during the fiftieth anniversary of India’s independence. The objective was to document and display the sequential planning that went into this unique urban experiment, and to bring out the distinctive and significant aspects of its lay-out and design.