Chandigarh ,Sector 17 was a burial ground during Harappan period
By Y.S. Rana , CHANDIGARH— It may stir up a debate among research scholars to posture on the matter—Why Sector 17 of Chandigarh was not designed as residential sector? Dr Fahim Amir, a research scholar from Austria, who had been in Chandigarh finding co-relation between Le Corbusier designs and Harappan architecture. He disclosed that Sector 17 was a burial ground during Harappan period. The area is also known for Harappan civilization. Either Le himself was known to this fact or some local persons told him about it. It had desisted Le Corbusier to design it as a residential sector. If it would not have been so, Sector 22 would be the business hub of Chandigarh, added Dr Fahim. Still, it is not considered auspicious residences over a burial ground. He further stated that more or less there was co-relation between Le Corbusier’s planning of the city and Harappan architecture.
Strengthened Dr Fahim theory, Davinder Pal Singh, Executive Director, Panjab Digital Library, who has done a lot of work on rich heritage of region, said that it might be true as no religious place was found in the area of Sector 17 at the time of development of Chandigarh.
While talking to Dr P.C. Sharma, nodal officer of the prestigious Le Corbusier Centre, Chandigarh and international renowned museumlogist, said that Dr M.S. Randhawa, a great visionary, who had been associated with Le Corbusier through out Capitol Project may know this fact and provided inputs about local religious beliefs in town planning to Le Corbusier. Later on in 1969 four skeletons were found buried in pits measured 8’x3’ and 6’ deep accidentally in Sector 17 of Harappan period. Harappan people believed in trans-migration of the soul proved by the artifacts found along with the bodies. “There is a lot beneath it that does not surface,” he said.
Outlining his research work, Dr Fahim said that there was a goldmine of archaeological treasure down under the city of Harappan settlement known for its urban town planning. There were a number of similarities between Le designs and Harappan architecture. From the findings, it was apparent that these people had achieved a remarkable degree of proficiency in sanitation and town planning reflected in the designs of Corbusier. Broad streets form south to north were crossed by others at right angles, and the blocks thus formed were subdivided by lanes parallel or at right angles to the arterial streets. The houses of these people were of appreciable size with adequate arrangements of sanitation, Dr Fahim stated.
Dr Sharma in association with Prof Vikramditya Parkash, Department of Architecture, University of Washington, USA, is writing a book “The making of Chandigarh” that will highlight the influence of Harappan architecture on the drawing-lines of Chandigarh. The research so made in the book will also be showcased in the newly set up gallery, said Dr Sharma.
Agreed with him, Dr Sharma stated that Corbusier’s planning of Chandigarh more or less was guided by Harappan architecture. He further stated that architectural components namely grid system, efficient drainage system and landscaping features including tree ecology of Chandigarh were derived from Harappan architecture. Harappan people were also expert in water management system—storage and conservation of water.
He said that Harappan cities had built systematically divided into 12 blocks each measuring 365mx244m. The streets were 9 meter wide. House built of kiln burnt brick had a bathroom, latrine but had no direct entrance opening to the main streets also reflected in city’s planning. Street and buildings were marked by underground drainage line with inspection chambers at regular intervals. Each block used to be independent itself and had its own people utility services. “These all reflect in the Sectoral planning of Le Corbusier,” he asserted.
Dr Sharma revealed that open hand imprints still prevalent on the walls of rural houses across the country were also prevalent during Harappan period with a belief that it would keep away evils from the houses. Open hand was also known as symbol of prosperity that now stood glorified as an insignia of Chandigarh, he said. Streets, roads, segregation of religious places, educational institutions and above all drinking water system, clean and green settlements of that period reflected in the drawings of Chandigarh, stated he. The Harappan planning vis-à-vis City Beautiful, the architectural research has also been initiated on the same subject in academic association with Prof Vikramditya Parkash.
In order to preserve the vital links between the two, a new Gallery titled “Indus Civilization vis-à-vis City Beautiful” is being conceptualized to showcase the original artifacts and manuscripts pertaining to inception, conception, development, growth, evolution and design of Chandigarh by Le Corbusier Centre.
With the construction of a concrete jungle of buildings over a highly advanced civilization that could reveal a lot, once again buried under the ravages of time, said Dr Sharma.