Chandigarh- our City Beautiful is beautiful not just for the ‘cleans’ and ‘greens’ that it is known for. It is actually the spirit and character of the city that makes it unlike any other city in India.
What comes to your mind when you imagine a typical Indian city? Narrow streets, open drains, and roundabouts or ‘chowks’ installed with huge figurines. Right? But wait! What is the last thing I mentioned? The roundabouts! While everything about the City Beautiful is distinctive, the roundabouts post a striking figure altogether. Now let me tell you why.
You will never come across an imposing statue of bronze and steel, standing high in the middle of an expansive roundabout, in a park or any other public place in Chandigarh. No places and buildings in the city are named after individuals. We have ‘Rajendra Chowk’, ‘Gandhi Circle’ and ‘Jawahar Chowk’ in every other Indian City. But here in Chandigarh we have ‘Matka Chowk’, ‘Piccadilly Chowk’, and ‘Tribune Chowk’!
The reason why Chandigarh is untouched by this ‘tradition’ of glorifying individuals at public places in Indian cities is quite interesting in itself. This is because Chandigarh’s creator, French Architect Le Corbusier laid out a set of guidelines to be followed by the residents and administrators of the city in the future years. This is called the ‘Edict of Chandigarh’.
This document, ‘Edict of Chandigarh’, is typical of quite a few notable things. But one thing that stands out is his ban on the use of the city spaces for personal glory.
The ‘Edict of Chandigarh’, in Corbusier’s words states:
“The age of personal statues is gone. No personal statues shall be erected in the city or parks of Chandigarh. The city is planned to breathe the new sublimated spirit of art. Commemoration of persons shall be confined to suitably placed bronze plaques.”
A visionary as Corbusier was, he knew that the differentiated spirit of Chandigarh may be diluted with time. So he laid out this document to enlighten the present and future citizens of Chandigarh about the basic concepts of planning of the city. Why? So that they become its guardians and save it from whims of individuals.
Thankfully, the residents and the administrators of the city have been able to abide this through all this years. We only hope that the youthful and progressive character of Chandigarh never dies, or even deteriorates. Also, it is always a great relief to see Chandigarh as an icon of the progressive India, free from the ills of the India of yesteryear. Isn’t it?
So what do you think about this policy? Let us know in the comments below!
Edited by Mrinaal Datt
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