Selling the family silver

I first went to Chandigarh in 1996 to shoot a story for the Independent on Sunday Magazine. A fascinating place, it was chosen as the capital of the Punjab after India lost Lahore to Pakistan after Partition. Nehru famously said that Chandigarh should to be “unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation’s faith in the future.” The originally commissioned architect, Matthew Nowicki, died in a ‘plane crash and the rather difficult Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris replaced him. Jeanneret-Gris was better known as Le Corbusier. He made a bold modernist statement of concrete and angles and by the time I got there, it had started to decay nicely under the unforgiving Indian sun. It was however a rather wondrous if slightly odd beauty to behold: a thoroughly Indianised but planned city that worked. Recently it has transformed itself again into a successful metropolis of New India: plush bars, hotels and now has India’s highest per capita income. However, shortly after I left (and I had nothing to do with this, honestly) some enterprising wags started selling off anything that wasn’t bolted down to Western collectors desperate for anything Corbusier. Lamps, manhole covers and as much furniture as could be, ahem… ‘lost’ have been turning up in auction houses mostly in the UK. Andrew Buncombe in today’s Independent has a good write up on it and how many in the Indian government have been trying to lobby to stop this rather sad episode.

Anyway, here’s some of my favourite pictures…

India - Chandigarh - A man cycles past The Open Hand statue

India - Chandigarh - A column and window of the Parliament Building

India - Chandigarh - A man carries a bundle of clothing past the High Court building

India - Chandigarh - In the middle of the day, an Indian man sleeps amidst the concrete of Chandigarh

India - Chandigarh - Chief architect Jaspreet Prakash and map of Chandigarth

India - Chandigarh - A man sweeps the pavement in Chandigarh

India - Chandigarh - A man walks through a pedestrian zone in Chandigarh

India - Chandigarh - A man sleeps under some stairs in the modernist city of Chandigarh

India - Chandigarh - A man bowls a cricket ball to his friend in a car park

India - Chandigarh - A man rests by a concrere pillar in Chandigarh

India - Chandigarh - Detail of the High Court building

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