State capital of both Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh is part of neither, being administered by India's federal government. Its history begins in 1947, when Partition placed Lahore in Pakistan, leaving India's state of Punjab without a capital. Nehru decided to realize his vision of a city "symbolic of the future of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past, [and] an expression of the nation's faith in the future". The job of designing it went to Swiss-French architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, alias Le Corbusier.
Begun in 1952, CHANDIGARH was a ground-breaking experiment in town planning. Le Corbusier's blueprints were for an orderly grid of sweeping boulevards, divided into 29 neat blocks, or Sectors, each measuring 800 by 1200 metres, and interspersed with extensive stretches of green. The resulting city has been controversial since its completion in the 1960s. Some applaud Le Corbusier's brainchild, but detractors complain that the design is self-indulgent and un-Indian. Le Corbusier created a city for fast-flowing traffic at a time when few people owned cars, while his cubic concrete buildings are like ovens during the summer – all but uninhabitable without expensive air-conditioning. The city has expanded from the first phase comprising sectors 1 to 30 (there is no Sector 13), through a second phase – sectors 31 to 47 – and is now into the third phase with (half-size) sectors 48 to 61.
Chandigarh's numbered sectors are further subdivided into lettered blocks, making route-finding relatively easy. Le Corbusier saw the city plan as a living organism, with the imposing Capital Complex to the north as a "head", the shopping precinct, Sector 17, a "heart", the green open spaces as "lungs", and the crosscutting network of roads, separated into eight different grades for use by various types of vehicles (in theory only), a "circulatory system".
Despite Chandigarh's shortcomings, its inhabitants are proud of their capital, which is cleaner, greener and more affluent than other Indian cities of comparable size, and boasts a Rock Garden said to be India's second most visited tourist site after the Taj Mahal.