The name Chandigarh is the summation of two words - 'Chandi' and 'Garh'. The word chandi is derived from the name of a Hindu deity called Chandi after the Chandi Mandir (or shrine) in the region. The second half of the name has been taken from the fort located close to the Chandi temple. After Indian Independence in the year 1947, the city was declared as the capital of Punjab. This occurred when India lost Lahore during the partition period. In the year 1966, further divisions in the state of Punjab made Chandigarh the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. Besides the city's political past, the city holds great importance to the historians and prehistorians. Remains of aquatic and amphibian life have been unearthed from this place while archaeologists have excavated stone instruments, copper ware and ornaments dating back to Harappan civilization. Chandigarh apparently India's only well planned urban place. Read the write-up to know more about the history of Chandigarh and various events that shaped the city.
After Indian partition in 1947, the search for a new capital for Punjab intensified. There were two main reason behind this -- the first being to reconstruct and reorganize the state of Punjab, while the second reason was to provide shelter to the expatriates form Pakistan. Formerly, the cities of Ludhiana, Ambala and Chandigarh were considered for the bait. The proposition was to select a location that was fit to relocate the refugees to a new town. Chandigarh was not only located far from the enemy border but also seemed to be cost effective in terms of reconstruction. After Chandigarh was chosen as the capital city, strong initiatives were taken towards the planning and development of the city.
Most of the early planning was undertaken under the able guidance of Shri P.N. Thapar, a member of the Indian civil services in the year 1949. He was assisted by Shri P.L. Varma, the chief Engineer of the state. Even though Independent India was eager to rebuild another city after the loss of Lahore with the help of their team of experts, they were not very successful as they faced many technical glitches initially. The main hitch was lack of experienced architectural skills in the country. During that period, architectural professionals were almost non-existent and such practices were not seen in the sub-continent. So the Government of India was forced to seek the help of the American architects Albert Mayer and Matthew Nowicki. Albert Mayer had previously worked with the Indian Government during the World War II where he was responsible for building airstrips in the state of Bengal. Later on, he went on to construct a few hamlets in the Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh under the management of Jawaharlal Nehru. The project held great importance to Jawaharlal Nehru as it represented the first signs of progressive Independent India. Nehru had mentioned that the construction of Chandigarh was a symbol of country's conviction in the future. The first site plan comprised of two river beds along with a Super Block that included commercial centre, educational institutions and public health.
By 1950, the project was almost ready to kickoff when Mayer's co-partner Matthew Nowicki passed away in an unfortunate plane crash and most of the work at Chandigarh came to a standstill. Mayer was unable to progress ahead with the developments in the construction of the city. Later, in the same year, a French architect by the name Le Corbusier was invited to complete the task. Several important skyscrapers where designed and built by him with the help of his team of assistants, Maxwell Fry, his wife Jane Drew and Pierre Jeanneret. Le Corbusier tried to retain most of the original master plan with minor modifications. After that there was no stopping the construction activities in the city.
From 1952 to 1966, the capital of the state Punjab remained as Chandigarh, after which the city became a union territory. Since it was situated in the border of Punjab and Haryana, it was named as the capital of both the states, despite the treaty signed by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 agreeing that the city would become a part of Punjab, and Haryana would get a few villages in the southern part of Punjab. Many political analysts believed that the transfer of Chandigarh to one particular state is not possible even today, because of its strategic location and its thriving economy.