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Historic journey ends: Chandigarh’s first Indian chief architect dies at 93

The first Indian chief architect of the City Beautiful who closely worked with Le Corbusier, MN Sharma died on Sunday, in Chandigarh. He was 93. He died of a heart attack, said Sharma’s daughter Priya Ojha.

punjab Updated: Nov 01, 2016 16:06 IST
Ifrah Mufti
Ifrah Mufti
Hindustan Times
Chandigarh,first Indian chief architect,chief architect
MN Sharma’s daughter Priya Ojha with his photograph in Chandigarh on Monday.(Keshav Singh/HT )

The first Indian chief architect of the City Beautiful who closely worked with Le Corbusier, MN Sharma died on Sunday, in Chandigarh. He was 93. He died of a heart attack, said Sharma’s daughter Priya Ojha.

Sharma was known for his contribution to the city’s architecture and was a signatory to Master Plan 2031 committee. To promote the idea of Chandigarh and an awareness on the history of the city, MN Sharma had launched an architectural society in his name. A graduate from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Sharma was associated with Chandigarh’s first plan started by architectural firm Mathew Nowicki and Albert Mayer.

Also read | MN Sharma, ‘Salman Khan from Sialkot’ who became Chandigarh chief architect

Sharma took over from Pierre Jeanneret as the first Indian chief architect of the project and after the reorganisation of the State of Punjab in 1966 and the establishment of Union Territory, Chandigarh, he was appointed administrative secretary of the UT department of architecture. He is survived by two daughters and two sons, of whom only the youngest daughter has been in the city, the rest are settled abroad. His charming house in Sector 8, reminiscent of the early architectural style of the city, bears the name plate — ‘Amrita and MN Sharma’.

Bereaved youngest daughter Priya Ojha said, “I am proud of my father, who made the citizens feel proud and who made the country proud.” She went on to add, “He lived to work and admired everything around him, be it leaves, branches, clouds and winds. He loved nature, he loved meeting people. Besides buildings, he had a passion for painting and he loved gifting them.”

Sharma’s close friend Yojna Rawat, who had been staying with him since long and was there with him even during his last moments, said, “At 93, he made sure he did not trouble anybody. He left in peace.”

He had complained of a chest pain early morning on Sunday, after which he was rushed to a private hospital in Sector 34 and was declared brought dead.

Yojna informed Sharma’s family and other relatives. Two of Sharma’s sons, who stay abroad, could not make it to the funeral. The eldest daughter, who also lives abroad, reached the city half-an-hour before cremation.

“Three days ago, he had taken out a canvas to paint. He set all the colours for it, but felt tired after a bit and had to rest. He promised me to make a canvas,” said Yojna.

In the same month last year, MN Sharma was honoured with the lifetime achievement award by UT administration. Then, he had questioned the purpose of

honouring a person at an age when he does not even know if he would be awake next morning to feel the joy.

Important buildings he designed

Fountain in Sector 17 Plaza

Government press, Sector 18

His own residence, House number 760 in Sector 8

Tourist information centre, Capitol complex

Polytechnic college, Sector 26

Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana

Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) Complex, Sector 30

Member of the team working on Government Art Gallery, Chandigarh Sector 10

Who’s who of city attend cremation

MN Sharma was cremated with honours at the Sector-25 crematorium on Monday around 4.45pm. A large number of people from cross-sections of society attended the funeral rites, performed by Sharma’s daughters.

Home secretary Anurag Aggarwal, chief architect Kapil Sethia, former chief architect Sumit Kaur, city-based architects SD Sharma and Surinder Bhagga; principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture professor Pradeep Bhagat, vice-chancellor of Panjab University professor Arun Kumar Grover, a few professors from Panjab University, senior advocates including ML Sarin and Anupam Gupta, Punjab chief electoral officer VK Singh paid floral tributes to the departed soul.

First Published: Nov 01, 2016 15:52 IST