Open Hand closed to Japanese tourist

Open Hand closed to Japanese tourist

Do you know what it takes to be allowed a visit to the Open Hand,a monument designed by Le Corbusier to symbolise free choice...

Allowed to see monument only after advocate’s intervention

Do you know what it takes to be allowed a visit to the Open Hand,a monument designed by Le Corbusier to symbolise free choice,in the Capitol Complex in Sector 1,Chandigarh? Authorisation from the Director Tourism followed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court officers — and boundless patience.

And Miho Bessho,a 32-year-old teacher from Japan on a visit to City Beautiful,would vouch for that. According to Bessho,it took her four days to get a nod from the Tourism Department to visit the place on the High Court premises. Much to her chagrin,on March 13 when Bessho reached the spot she was denied entry by the security on the grounds that she did not have permission from the Protocol Officer of the High Court.

So off she went to the officer concerned,who was not to be found as the court had closed for the Holi vacations. Left with no choice,Bessho requested the security guards to let her pass but to no avail.


She was asked to return on Monday,when the court would reopen and the officer would be present. “I cannot return here. I will leave for Japan on Sunday,” replied Bessho. Also,she had been granted only a days’ permission to visit the monument by the Tourism Department. “If I am not allowed to go in today,I will have to go back to the Tourism Department to take the requisite permission again,” she added.

This seemed to melt the hearts of the guards,who finally allowed her to go in but forbade her to click photographs of the Open Hand. On this issue,Bessho would not budge. “I have come here especially to take pictures and record the sites I have seen. Please allow me that liberty,” said Bessho. As the drama progressed,at last a local advocate chose to intervene. With his help,Bessho got the Registrar’s permission to click the monuments’ photographs.

“I don’t understand the need for such lengthy procedures. It was so difficult to get permission from the Tourism Department and then when I landed here,I was told that entry was banned,” a visibly harassed Bessho told Newsline.

The incident has also elicited the ire of prominent citizens of the city. Chief Architect of the Saakaar Foundation,Surinder Bagha,said entry to the Open Hand should not be restricted. “The beauty of the structure cannot be appreciated if the people are not allowed to visit. The whole purpose of having the monument is defeated. It is an architectural marvel that people from all over the world come to see it. Such restrictions will affect tourism flow in the city.”

Advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal intends to file a public interest litigation raising the issue next week. “The Open Hand is the face of the city. It is unfortunate that we are not allowing tourists to see our face. It is ridiculous that Le Corbusier’s masterpiece is beyond the common man’s reach,” he said. So what is the Administration’s rationale behind keeping the Open Hand monument from prying eyes? Tourism Secretary Ram Niwas explained: “It is mainly because of security reasons. As the Punjab and Haryana High Court,Vidhan Sabha and the Capitol Complex are located in the vicinity,the area demands tight security arrangements.”