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Sector 10: Of Paris, Davis Cup, battles and assembly

HOSPITABLY YOURS Be it the winding green belt, chirpy students, the busy geri route, budding artists, sprawling tennis courts, starry visitors, or tony cafes, Sector 10 is a perennial draw for the spirited

punjab Updated: Jun 21, 2018 23:16 IST
Shilpa Ambardar
Shilpa Ambardar
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sector 10,chandigarh,leisure valley
The Government College of Arts. (Sanjeev Sharma/HT)

American writer Jim Rohn had once said, “Whatever good things we build end up building us.” This is true of Chandigarh’s Sector 10, which has done an impressive job of shaping the city’s personality. Be it the annual carnival held at the Leisure Valley meandering though this sector, the four famous colleges that attract students from afar, the rich museum, its fabled geri route, the first five-star hotel of the city, the tony restaurants and boutiques, the sector has always been a trailblazer.

HOSPITALITY AND HERITAGE

Home to a galaxy of avant-garde artists, the sector breathes, changes and adapts as the clock ticks. It’s something that yesteryear actor Sharmila Tagore was quick to note when she was at Hotel Mountview, recently. Anurag Walia, general manager, says Tagore was all praise for the changes she saw here.

Spread over 8 green acres, Mountview, which was born in the early 1970s, has seen many a star in its checkered journey. Walia, who has been with Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) for 30 years, remembers the time the corporation took over the hotel from the Oberois in 1982. “All the tennis, cricket and film stars used to stay with us. The entire cast of Veer Zaara camped here for a month. It became a home away from home for Shah Rukh Khan, Yash Chopra and Rani Mukherjee among others,” he recounts. Even Madhuri Dixit spent a month here. Sports writers recall meeting Leander Paes and MS Dhoni on its lush lawns. It was also a hit with Pakistani artistes.

Isha, 25, who has been working as a restaurant hostess here for over two years, says such is the draw of this place that even now couples, who tied the knot on its lawns several decades ago, return to get their children married here. For the locals, the stately hotel is quintessentially Chandigarh, and the best place for a hot cuppa or pav-bhaji after midnight.

Madan Lal Bansal, 60, who owns a general store facing Mountview and is the market welfare association president for the past 15 years, has met a host of celebrities thanks to this hotel. “The first celeb I met was the late actor Dev Anand in 1968, when I was 9-year-old. Meekly, I asked Dev Saab if I could shake hands with him. He smiled and pulled me into his lap saying, Kyun nahin beta!”

With a big smile, he points to the collage that has pictures of him

posing with Sunil and Sanjay Dutt, Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Mongia, Farah Khan, Chunky Pandey, Bobby Deol, Shatrughan Sinha, Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Om Puri, Hans Raj Hans, Chandrachur Singh, VVS Lakshman, Ajit Agarkar, to name a few. “But the star attraction in this collage, is my grandkid,” beams the man who started accompanying his father to this shop when he was all of 12.

Cleanliness is what he loves most about this sector. The market, he says, has 30 shops, including four banks and a post office, but no medicine store.

“Of Sectors 1 to 11, this sector is more spacious and less crowded. The average plot size here is different. Also, there are long green belts here,” says area councillor Mahesh Inder Sandhu, an alumnus of DAV College, another landmark of the sector. “Most of the students were from a sports background,” recounts Sandhu, who studied there when it was an all-boy institution.

ON THE GERI ROUTE

Chances are that many of these students were also active on the ‘geri’ route that passes through this sector. Reams have been written on the ‘geri’ culture of Chandigarh, which had young men cruising endlessly on a route that went past women’s colleges in the hope of catching the eye of the fair sex. The core of the route covers DAV College, Home Science College for Girls and Government College for Girls, Sector 11. Old-timers recall how this route would get choked with vehicles on the Valentine’s Day.

Though mostly harmless in the beginning when boys would also use this route to parade their fancy wheels, it degenerated into stalking over time. Its ugly avatar led to some activists getting it renamed as Azadi Route earlier this year.

THE FAMOUS FOUR

A major reason for the geri route passing through this sector was the presence of four major colleges with a long list of illustrious alumni. Paramvir Chakra awardee and Kargil martyr Captain Vikram Batra studied in the DAV College established in 1958, as did actor Ayushmann Khurrana, cricketers Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh and his son Yuvraj Singh, and golfer Chiranjeev Milkha Singh.

The college has also produced some big names in the political world, including Congress leaders Manish Tiwari, Partap Singh Bajwa and Randeep Singh Surjewala; BJP city chief Sanjay Tandon, and AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira to name a few.

The sector also boasts the sole art college of the region. “This is the only art college dedicated to fine arts and related fields in the city,” says assistant professor Pritpal Singh, 42, who joined the Government College of Arts as a student but is now part of the family as a teacher.

“Even though students from various states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Leh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, et al come here, the college has a monoculture,” says Singh, who believes variety is the key to good art.

The college offers four courses—applied art, paintings, graphics and sculpture—for which over 500 students apply every year.

Located in the corner of Government Home Science College for Girls, a canteen with over 25 years of service has been humbly catering to the food pangs of students and teachers alike. “It was the first home science college to come up in Chandigarh,” says Himanshu Gulati, 27, an engineer by training, who’s been helping his father Raman Gulati for over six years now. “I have practically seen the students growing in front of me,” says Raman, 60, with nostalgia.

“There were students who went on to retire as principals of the college,” he recounts. Ask him about how the college has evolved over the years, and he says, “Only buildings are changing, people coming here are all the same.”

The fourth academic institute, Government Polytechnic College for Women, was founded by the Punjab government in 1962 to encourage women to take up technical and professional training to be self-sufficient. The institute is affiliated to Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training, and attracts a large number of girls from the region.

The sector is also home to a thriving tennis academy, which has hosted the likes of Leander Paes and Sania Mirza, and the maiden skating rink of the city, whose roller skating classes continue to be a big hit with students.

CAFE CULTURE

This sector sprang a pleasant surprise on the city when it transformed the erstwhile coal depot at the back of the main market into a cafe corner reminiscent of Europe, a few years ago.

Quaint little restaurants not only look Parisian, but also offer a slice of both European and Mediterranean cuisine. Come evening and this little corner turns into a ramp as fashionistas of the city descend here to satisfy their food cravings.

LOOK BACK: The history keeper

If you think museums are boring, take a look at the the Sector 10 museum complex, host to the trio of Chandigarh Architecture Museum, Government Museum & Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum. Designed by the renowned French architect, Le Corbusier, and host to some precious antiques, the museum and art gallery building has aced the test of time.

Inaugurated on May 6, 1968, the museum has carefully curated collection of Pahari, Rajasthani, Bengali and Kangra paintings, Gandhara sculptures, Mughal era coins, textile art, scroll paintings, metal images, ancient maps and statues, among other precious treasures.

Interestingly, before independence, the museum was located in Lahore, the then capital of Punjab. After the Partition, around 60% of the objects were retained by Pakistan, and the rest 40% came to India. The museum was housed in Amritsar, Shimla, and Patiala before being moved to Chandigarh.

Taking you to the corridors of the past, deputy curator Seema Gera, 51, says, the museum has become more interactive now. “We have introduced audio guides in English, Hindi and Punjabi.”

They also organise a light and sound show every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Gera, whose favourite place is the reference library, tells us it houses records from 1952. “Letters, books, paintings, photographs, everything takes me back in time,” says Gera. Even though the library is mostly for staff members, art lovers can also access it with the director’s permission, and refundable security.

“During one of his visits here, renowned historian and Padma Bhushan awardee BN Goswamy asked for a scroll, which had been brought from Lahore. On opening the scroll, we found that it was a work of famous painter Nain Sukh,” reveals a nostalgic Gera.

Designed by architect S.D. Sharma, who trained directly under Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret, the Architecture Museum, also known as the City Museum, displays original letters between administrators and the architects who created Chandigarh’s blueprint. Also framed is a letter written by Mathew Nowicki, who along with Albert Mayer was originally chosen to plan the new city. He died in a plane crash over Cairo while flying back to the US from Chandigarh.

LANDMARKS

Of Paris, Davis Cup, battles and assembly

The Eiffel Tower

It was constructed at the Leisure Valley by Chandigarh College of Architecture students in 2013 during the Chandigarh carnival as a tribute to the 1967’s hit Bollywood film ‘An Evening in Paris’.

Patton Tank (M46) of Pakistan

It was captured in the 1965 Indo-Pak War during the battle of Asal Uttar, Punjab. The tank was restored and reinstalled on the 50th war anniversary outside the Leisure Valley on 31st August 2015.

CLTA Stadium

The Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association came into existence in September 1975. The academy has the honour of organising three Davis Cup against Japan in 1990, Australia in 1993 and New Zealand in 2012.

The model school

Govt Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, was used as Vidhan Sabha and Secretariat in 1960s. The school hall was used as the Vidhan Sabha where ministers used to sit.

KNOW YOUR SECTOR

I. SECTOR AT A GLANCE
  • No of voters: 2,000
  • Percentage share in the city: 1%
  • Area of the sector: 1 sq km
  • Percentage area of the city: 1%
  • No of houses: 294
  • No of parks: 8
  • Number of commercial booths: 41
  • Number of residential properties: 294
  • Number of colleges: 4

II. REALTY BITES
  • Price of a 10 marla house in 1960: Rs8,000
  • Price of a 1 kanal in 1960: Rs14,000
  • Price of a 2 kanal house in 1960: Rs25,000
  • Price of a 10 marla house in 2018: Rs2.5 crore
  • Price of a 1 kanal house in 2018: Rs4.75 crore
  • Price of a 2 kanal house in 2018: Rs9.5 crore

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 23:14 IST