Chandigarh applies for World Heritage Status

Chandigarh is akin to an “architectural mecca” for students of architecture and architects from India. Le Corbusier, arguably 20th century’s greatest architect designed the city in a post-colonial India. His individual buildings have become seminal works of beauty….poetry in concrete…and are celebrated the world over as some of the most amazing buildings built in the latter half of the century. Chandigarh is also unlike any other Indian city. Most Indian cities are organic in growth, having evolved over time. Chandigarh was India’s first formally planned city.

Today nearly half a century later, city officials are getting ready to put in an application to get World Heritage status. This would bring acknowledgement, status, money, conservation effort and tourists to the city. Many would say its a win-win situation.

The Guardian writes about the city’s attempt to make a bid. Their byline is somewhat misleading, but the overall content of the article is well balanced.

Chandigarh was an international effort to create a new kind of postcolonial city in India. Le Corbusier’s major work was completed by 1955. Now, new generations of Indian architects have taken the project on, most showing respect towards a remarkable design. Sure, Chandigarh sprawls. And yet, if you came this way, and stood by the lake and gazed at its artful monuments and out across the treetops, you would, I’m sure, agree there is architectural sorcery at work here. [link]

However, from an architect’s point of view; Chandigarh should not be jumping for this status. There are many other cities in India which justifiably could and should be on the World Heritage list. Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Hampi, the temple cities of South India all come to mind.

Many are of the opinion that Chandigarh has just started and is not even complete as a city; or at least what was envisaged by the master designer Le Corbusier himself.

In that context, do you think its appropriate to deem it a World Heritage site? I would love to hear your perspective, especially if you are a non-architect.



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