Le Corbusier is one of the most celebrated architect of the 20th century. If you are working or studying in field related to architecture, you have definitely heard of his name. Now I am at his biggest creation of his life, Chandigarh – The City Beautiful, doing my final photographic project in commemoration of his 50th death anniversary. Le Corbusier designed the master plan for the new city of Chandigarh with his team back in 1951. He designed the Capitol Complex himself, the complex consist of three main buildings witch are the High Court, the Secretariat Buildings, and the Palace of Assembly. The Open Hand Monument and the Tower of Shadow are also within the complex.
Because of the sensitivity of those buildings, you will need to obtain the permissions to visit from the tourist information center just outside of the complex. The new Capitol Complex Walk program started on the 13th of April 2015, is a free guided tour for the buildings inside the Capitol Complex. From what I have gathered, there are almost no other way to attain permission to visit the Capitol Complex other then following the guided tour system. There are three time slot for the free tour which are at 10am, 12am, and 3pm. Please be there at least 5 minute before the tour start as they will need to make a photocopy of your IDs (bring your passport). You can also apply for the permission online, and you there can also see the rules and regulations for the tour. Here are some information and photos about my tour at the Capitol Complex (3pm time slot) .
The first building the guide will bring you to is the High Court, which consist of the main Chief Justice Court and 8 other smaller courts that are named numerically. I was lucky enough to be allowed to enter the Chief Justice Court while there is a hearing, inside the court you can see the giant woolen tapestry designed by Le Corbusier.
Then you will go through the 3 brightly colored vertical piers to the ramp.
While you are walking up the ramp, you can see the Palace of Assembly from afar. In this photo you can see how small human are compared to the gigantic 60 feet tall piers.
You will reach a small roof-like place after walking up the ramp. Here you can see the wear and tears the building suffered from aging.
After that they will bring you down using the stairs and will head towards the Palace of Assembly.
Few days before I saw lots of furniture piling up on the roof of the High Court, they are all in bad shape. But this time I saw theme moving them out, I asked the guide about this and he says that they are sending them to be repaired. I really hope they are really doing that and not just disposing them, it would be a waste.
Normally the guide will bring you to the Open Hand Monument, but because the group spent too much time at the High Court we don’t have enough time to go there as the other buildings closes at 5. The Open Hand monument is a huge metal sculpture of the open hand symbol designed by Le Corbusier, the meaning of the symbol is ‘Open to give and open to receive.’
There are a lot of renovation work going on during my visit. When you are walking from the high court to the Palace of Assembly, we will see the the Tower of Shadow and a couple more monumental symbols.
This is the Palace of Assembly and here you can really feel the effect of the evaporative cooling by the huge water feature.
You are allowed to visit the interior of the Palace of Assembly, but you will need to leave your cameras, phone, and bags at the entrance/reception. The architecture features inside the assembly building are really interesting, you can see how the light shine through the openings in beautiful ways designed by Le Corbusier. The most epic space in the building is the Punjab assembly hall, which situated inside the giant power-plant-cooling-tower inspired structure. There are no photography allowed inside the assembly building but I am still trying to get a permission for that. 😛
After the visit to the Palace of Assembly, the guide will lead you to the last building of the tour, the Secretariat. The Secretariat building is the largest and the tallest of the three edifice in the Capitol Complex.
The rectangular shape building are attached with a huge external concrete ramp at both of longer side. You can take photos around the buildings and on top of the building, the guide will take you up and you are not allowed to take photos inside the building.
The free tour ends with a great view of the Capitol Complex and the city. The whole tour takes around 1 and a half hour to 2 hours, it was a very informative tour, be sure to leave a review back at the tourist information center (where you can cool off after the tour too). This is definitely a must-do if you are visiting Chandigarh!