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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Chandigarh: Manimajra as Sector 13? Residents fume, say it’s ‘distorting history’

Manimajra holds heritage value and was in existence much before Chandigarh came into being. A fort in Manimajra called the Manimajra fort is over 360 years old.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh | Updated: December 4, 2019 7:43:45 pm
Chandigarh: Manimajra as Sector 13? Residents fume, say it’s ‘distorting the history’ Directly after Sector 12, Chandigarh has Sector 14. (Source: Google maps)

OVER 50 years ago when French architect Le Corbusier was designing the layout of Chandigarh and divided the city into 60 sectors, he omitted having Sector 13 as the number was considered highly unlucky in European culture. The superstition about the number not being an auspicious one in tarot and western numerology led the City Beautiful not having Sector 13.

Directly after Sector 12, Chandigarh has Sector 14.

Now, with the Chandigarh Administration proposing to rename Manimajra as Sector 13, the same has not gone down well with city-based architects and folks as they state that it is like “distorting the history”.

Manimajra holds heritage value and was in existence much before Chandigarh came into being. A fort in Manimajra called the Manimajra fort is over 360 years old. Manimajra Shiv Temple and Thakurdwara are around 500 years old and were said to be built by the rulers of the area.

The former principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture, Professor Rajnish Wattas, said that they shouldn’t change it to Sector 13 as it is like distorting the history that Manimajra beholds.

“That time, the planners did not include Sector 13 as it was considered that even people won’t prefer to buy houses and shops there considering the superstition behind the number being unlucky. And even otherwise renaming Manimajra won’t benefit people. They will consider it something which is not auspicious,” he said.

Wattas added, “Moreover, Manimajra was the original township here, much before Chandigarh came into existence. Then why distort the historical significance? Let it be Manimajra only. It is like changing history.”

Tarun Mathur, another city-based architect, said that it was not a good move to include Sector 13 now, something which Corbusier skipped having.

“Each one of us has some beliefs and why to go against the belief when it was not included in the Chandigarh Master Plan? Even the residents of the area won’t take it positively,” Mathur said.

Even in Panchkula, the administration did not have Sector 13 and preferred to have Sector 12A just immediately after Sector 12 and then jumping off to Sector 14.

Radio Jockey Anubhav Kalra who had his previous office in Manimajra too believes that Manimajra should remain as it is.

“I personally believe that there is no need to rename it. City will lose its essence if we try to alter the history that Manimajra holds,” he said.

Significance of Manimajra and the fort: A royal past

A book entitled ‘Ujaadiyan di Dastaan’ by Tarlochan Singh says this village encompassed 52,000 bighas, and was irrigated by a network of canals (kulas) diverted from the Ghaggar. The IT park came up on this land as did the Sukhna Lake and even Panchkula. Once upon a time, it was part of a principality and Raja Bhagwan Das was its last ruler. His daughter was married to the Raja of Faridkot. The Manimajra fort dates back to 1659 and lore has it that it was connected to the Mansa Devi temple via a tunnel. It is also associated with the Sikh gurus, and houses the historic Gurdwara Manji Sahib, dedicated to Mata Raj Kaur, wife of Ram Rai, son of the seventh Sikh guru, Guru Har Rai.

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