After the independence of India in 1947, Le Corbusier was invited to design a modernist city that broke with the country's colonial past. It became a monument to India's entrance into the modern world. Its Capitol Complex was recently declared by UNESCO as World Heritage.

In the wake of the independence, the Punjab region was divided between India and the newly created Pakistan. Since the former capital Lahore was now in Pakistani territory, Chandigarh was supposed to replace it. The name means “Home of Chandi,” the warrior personified as Parvati, a deity of fertility, love and devotion.


It was not only a planned city but also the realization of Le Corbusier’s utopian vision of a metropolis. Known for his avant-garde living concepts, he divided the city by functions. He developed this idea from earlier plans created by the Polish architect Maciej Nowicki and the American planner Albert Mayer who withdrew from the project after a plane crash in which Nowitzki died. Every detail was carefully designed, from the sculptures of the Supreme Court square to the door handles of the offices, and the most important administrative buildings, including the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Secretariat, Parliament, a Governor's Palace and a university.

Chandigarh is still criticized for being a city that is alienated from the rest of the country and its culture, but also one that is sterile, expensive and lacking in social mobility.


Photography Ben Hosking