Monday

Chandigarh: A Garden? Or a junk house?




As we drove into this planned city (by architect Le Corbusier) I looked for the aha moment knowing it was the 1st planned city in the country et al. That feeling eluded me. My first impressions were army, cantonment, green, wide roads, lack of traffic, clean, lots of trees, lots of big cars (hmmm capitalist city). As we drove further inwards into the city we realized ‘planned’ was a bit confusing! Localities and markets looked identical! And everybody asked for a sector number-I mean is that enough to find an address?!

To be fair to Chandigarh the traffic is disciplined, nobody jumps lights or parks at zebra crossings. The city has many parks, rose gardens, (the University itself has one) the famous rock garden, lakes, making quality of life distinctly a cut above the rest of the country. Wow I wonder aloud ‘is this Hamara Bharat mahan’ Why does Bombay suck so:(

Talking about the famous(?) rock gardens many consider it to be a marvel, a great work of art, very well designed and fits into the surroundings of "the best planned city in India". I must admit that I was at sea in my lack of appreciation - I was stunned at the rubbish they call art! Agreed modern art is beyond me, it has many expressions most of which I do not understand, the rock garden certainly falls in that criteria – it was a concrete monstrosity, a park made up of debris with the mandatory water fall. Such a deflation for such high expectations! Wham went the aha moment!

My summary of this planned city- it lacks soul! Nothing stood out for me. No no I’d be lying the air is fresh, one sees a cleaner environment, sexy roads to drive on, no rush or peak hour, buzzing sector 22, inadequate (good or bad?) public transport, BUT it still lacks soul! I simply could not connect with Chandigarh! Thank God for the extended family I visited, it took the edge off the bite for me. Good food, family gossip, met the cousins etc – 2days were enough time spent to get back on the road on way to Delhi!

15 comments:

Aijaz Ahmed Pitafi said...

Places can't be soulless. You need to communicate with them. In order to talk to, one must develop a connection. And for doing so something important, spontaneous and unusually pleasant event has to take place to turn it full of soul and become part of your beautiful memories.

rajindermakkar said...

My thoughts of Chandigarh are quite similar. Not that I was too enchanted by the Rock Garden, but neither was I charmed by it. As for the rest, well, a planned city (it's very similar to Bhubaneswar where I've spent a couple o' yrs) is bound to be devoid of the warmth you would experience in a township that evolves naturally, say Kolkata or Cuttack or even Old Delhi (quaintly referred to as Jamuna paar):-)

gita said...

Wow this is a politically incorrect bold and vry true post Mee:) ofcourse only you can carry this off with elan!:)

I too have vry mixed feelings abt C'garh. Certainly not a city one warms to instantly yet an antidote to the unhygienic large megapolisis like you mentioned. Its almost cold and charachterless. Perhaps too clinical to hv an objective viewpoint.

melinda said...

O yea I so know what you mean! I feel like that about some places myself. At the risk of creating controversies- I feel like that about Surat, Gurgaon, Ooty to name a few within India - they seem to completely bereft of any soul:(

RavneetSingh said...

As you are aware India is too unique and cannot ape the west-the shoe will never fit, so perhaps we need to get our own town planners to build cities more successfully? As regards the rock Garden I thought it was different, innovative even creative. Admitted it is built frm junk:)

ashish said...

Chandigarh is 'city beautiful'!A rare combination of modernization coexisting with well preserved nature. I found the city to be calming and very organized

Anon said...

The spirit of Chandigarh lies in its beauty, serenity, discipline and system. It is concerted effort that has kept C'garh clean. Tho if ever one sees the Sukhna lake by evening it is littered and a sore sight I agree. I love this city, it is my home and am very proud of it.

PArul

sheila said...

O No I dont agree Mee:( I love that city. Why didnt you like it?:( Maybe I shld escort you there and show you around;)

monisha mehta said...

hey , nice blog , like it ,
won't be nice if i u can clickover to my blog page too ,
& post some suggestion

RSV said...

don't know but I will not expect something huge going into it...
delhi for one, rules and will..

Shweta said...

Chandigarhs ugly face seen today on the beautiful roads!! Rich and famous young kids on the fast track driving under the influence of alcohol, unapologetic about her conduct, killing people and a small kid, what are we coming to? And the authorities are quiet!

Mee said...

@Aijaz: guess you are right:) However when one is on a time limit and doesn't have the luxury to establish the connection then something needs to happen spontaneously for one to remember the place/thing by - didn't happen in this case:)

@Raj- O yes completely in agreement and thats what I mean by "soul":)

@Gits:No doubt it is clean, well planned, easy on the ye and traffic

@Mel- urban jungles-whatdya have to say about maximum city I wonder?:)

@RS: didn't have a problem with the stuff used inside the garden- simply didn't find it appealing. Like I said modern art I do not understand:)

@Ash: perhaps there is more to discover for me?:)

@Parul: ty for visiting my blog.
Those adjectives you use could well be for Benares:) Hehhee kidding- I didn't find C;garh serene. Yea disciplined clean twas:)

@Shell: we have a deal:)

@monisha mehta- ty for visiting my blog. I most certainly will do the same :)

@RSV: good to see you here! ty for visiting my blog:) U a big fan of Delhi hmmmm.....

@Shweta: I was equally saddened and shocked to hear the news. I dont think we can pin it squarely on C'garh. I think it is a malaise called "wealth can buy power" that particularly ails the North

Neeraj said...

I agree with you. When I visited Chandigarh I was also waiting for that 'ah ha' moment, which never happened.

I found the city to be- boring- for lack of a better word.

Although I don't understand modern art either, I thought the Rock Garden was a fascinating place. At the very least it offers respite from the relentless sun!

Mee said...

@Neeraj- lol well yea true!:)

Anon said...

The Chd spirit=relaxed living for the educated... book clubs, evening chats, golf, theatre..

Chd sleeps early. Doesn't wake up till afternoon on a sunday. lazy, relaxed, peaceful.

But yes, it lacks the hustle bustle of city on the move. u can get bored if u don't like peace. Agree wholeheartedly. My dad did his super specialization (after MS) from PGIMER chandigarh. My early childhood was spent there :)

Food for thought. Town planning, good libraries, golf courses and lake clubs don't make us happier. history and culture does.This city perhaps lacks the soul because it does not have any history to fall back on...