Chandigarh City, in North India, is the capital of both the states of Punjab and Haryana, and is a major cultural and economic hub. It was designed by Le Corbusier and is considered to be a modernist masterpiece with its unique urban design and architecture, with wide, tree-lined boulevards, and spacious well-planned buildings and gardens.

(Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect and urban planner who is considered to be one of the pioneers of modern architecture. Born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret in Switzerland in 1887 he later adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier. He is known for his innovative and functionalist designs, which often featured clean lines, geometric shapes, and the use of modern materials such as concrete. Some of his most famous works include the Unité d'Habitation in Marseille, France, and this, the city of Chandigarh. Le Corbusier died in 1965).

A tour of Chandigarh should be divided into TWO parts:

Part AA: Capitol Complex:

Punjab and Haryana High Court or Palace of Justice, also known as the Palace of Justice, serves as the common high court for the states of Punjab and Haryana. The court is known for its unique and striking architectural design created by Le Corbusier. The building features a blend of traditional and modern elements, including large, open courtyards, geometric shapes, and the use of modern materials such as concrete.

Secretariat Building, an important government building is an important example of modernist architecture designed by Le Corbusier. Considered to be one of the key buildings in his "City Beautiful" plan for Chandigarh, the building is known for its clean lines, geometric shapes, and the use of modern materials such as concrete featuring open courtyards and gardens.

Palace of Assembl
y, designed by Le Corbusier, is known for its distinctive, geometric shape, which is intended to resemble a giant cube, featuring clean lines, open spaces, and use of concrete.

Open Hand Monument designed by Le Corbusier. The monument is a giant steel sculpture in the shape of an open hand, which is intended to symbolize the city's motto of "open to give, open to receive", an important symbol of peace and reconciliation.

Tower of Shadow
is a symbolic structure designed by Le Corbusier to study solar movement. The aim is to trace the path of the sun using shadows cast on both the inside and outside of the tower. Through this, he wanted to prove that sunlight can be controlled in the four corners of a building. “A very open hall, very high and shadowy (…) the sun can be controlled at all four cardinal points of an edifice and even manipulated in a hot country to reduce temperatures”.

Geometric Hill was created by Le Corbusier to hide the legislative assembly building from the nearby main road. This mound-shaped monument is made using construction waste over an area of around 100 acres comprising three buildings, three monuments and a lake. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Part BB: Others:

Pierre Jeanneret House. While Chandigarh is most commonly associated with Le Corbusier, credit is also due to his younger cousin and long-time collaborator, Pierre Jeanneret, who turned Le Corbusier’s sweeping vision into a reality. The cousins had worked extensively together, sharing a common, forward-thinking design sensibility. Appointed senior architect, the Swiss-born Jeanneret oversaw the ambitious project on the ground and proved himself particularly skilled at connecting with the professionals and local community alike. “Effectively, he is respected like a father, liked as a brother by the fifty or so young men who have applied to work in the Architect’s Office,” wrote Corbusier in praise of his cousin.

The house not only provided a place for Jeanneret to reside but also served as an experiment of sorts, allowing him to test ideas that he would later develop for large-scale residential projects. Part of a cluster of housing for government employees, the home features staples of modern design, such as a compact, functional floor plan and plenty of open and semi-open spaces, creating a dynamic play of light and shadow throughout the building. And even with a tight budget, simple yet elegant details—including the perforated brick screens, the Yves Klein blue walls, and the geometric built-in niche frames and wall shelves—lend the house a look of sophistication. He lived in Chandigarh for 11 years in House number 57, Sector 5. For honouring his contribution and keeping his memory alive, his house was converted into a museum.

Government College of Art is one of the leading colleges of Fine Arts in India and the only one in North India beyond Delhi. It has history and heritage of 142 years and has been in existence over 55 years in the present building as a splinter of Mayo School of Art, Lahore in Pakistan. It is an institute for advance training in Visual Arts (Creative and Applied) leading to the professional Degree programme of Bachelor of Fine Arts & Master of Fine Arts from Panjab University.

Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA) was established at the behest of Le Corbusier as part of the ‘Chandigarh Project’, the most significant and daring experiment in architecture and urban planning of the 20th century. The driving force and mission of the college is to fulfill the same ethos. A premier institution of the country for imparting architectural education at the national, regional and city level, it has been rated amongst the top 3 architectural institutions in India since 2012 onwards.

Panjab University (PU) initiated at Lahore in 1882, is one of the oldest Universities in India, having a long tradition of pursuing excellence in teaching and research in science and technology, humanities, social sciences, performing arts and sports. The University supports excellence and innovation in academic programmes, promotes excellence in research, scholarship and teaching. With its main campus at Chandigarh, it has nearly two hundred colleges in Punjab state and Chandigarh.

Le Corbusier Centre, previously the old Architects office is one of the earliest buildings constituted in Chandigarh. The museum was the workplace of Le Corbusier and his team therefore, building is of immense historic value to Chandigarh. The modest structure of building may well be considered as a seminal attempt at introducing concepts of sustainability and green architecture in the architectural annals of Modern India. This fascinating museum displays documents, sketches and photos of Le Corbusier, along with captivating letters revealing the politics behind the project, including one from Jawaharlal Nehru to the Chief Minister of Punjab which states, “I do hope that you will not overrule Corbusier. His opinion is of value”.

Rock Garden is a sculpture garden also known as Nek Chand’s Rock Garden after its founder Nek Chand, a government official who started the garden secretly in his spare time in 1957. Today it is spread over an area of 40 acres (162,000 m²), completely built of industrial and home waste and thrown-away items. The garden is most famous for its sculptures made from recycled ceramic.

Rose Garden, also Zakir Hussain Rose Garden, is Asia's largest Rose Garden spread over 30 acres of land showcasing over 1600 different species of roses. Like the Cultural Zone, this was also planned by Dr. M.S. Randhawa as his interest in horticulture and fondness for flowers was profuse. The best time to visit Rose Garden in Chandigarh is during the months of February and March.

Man Made Lake, also Sukhna Lake is a man-made lake in the foothills of Shivalik range, offering quiet communion with nature as well as boating, yachting, water skiing, water surfing, and sculling etc. The creation of the lake was a gift from Le Corbusier and P L Varma Chief Engineer. To preserve its tranquility Corbusier insisted that it be forbidden to motor boats and the top of the dam (promenade) prohibited to vehicular traffic. Le Corbusier had foreseen that the residents of the city would be drawn it for the 'care of the body and spirit'. The city planners were deeply attached to the lake, so much so that Pierre Jeanneret's ashes were immersed in the lake in 1970 as per his wishes by his niece.

Sector 17 Market, considered to be the “Pedestrian’s Paradise”, also called City Centre, covers an area of 240 acres, is home to big brand stores, international outlets food chain and eateries. It's an entertainment hub, a tree-lined pedestrian plaza.

Chandigarh Architecture Museum, commonly known as the City Museum, is representative of the spirit of the first planned city of independent India and continues to inspire modern and urban experiments. It is one of the three museums situated in the museum complex. The present architecture is modernist and utilitarian, keeping in line with the other two neighbouring museums. The museum spreads vertically over four levels, with each level covering the life of Chandigarh.

It should be noted that a special permission is required for a visit to the Capitol Complex (AA above).