After the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947, the former British province of Punjab was also split between India and Pakistan. The Indian state of Punjab required a new capital city to replace Lahore, which became part of Pakistan during the partition. After several plans to make additions to existing cities were found to be unfeasible for various reasons, the decision to construct a new and planned city was undertaken. Of all the new town schemes in independent India, the Chandigarh project quickly assumed prime significance, because of the city's strategic location as well as the personal interest of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India. Commissioned by Nehru to reflect the new nation's modern, progressive outlook, Chandigarh was designed by the French (born Swiss) architect and urban planner, Le Corbusier, in the 1950s. Le Corbusier was in fact the second architect of the city, after the initial master plan was prepared by the American architect-planner Albert Mayer who was working with the Polish-born architect Matthew Nowicki.
Chandigarh hosts the largest of Le Corbusier's many Open Hand sculptures. Standing 26 meters high, the structure was designed to in the wind . The Open Hand (La Main Ouverte) is a recurring motif in Le Corbusier's architecture, a sign for him of "peace and reconciliation. It is open to give and open to receive." It represents the give and take of ideas.
On 1 November 1966, the newly formed Indian state of Haryana was carved out of the eastern portion of the Punjab, in order to create Haryana as a majority Hindi-speaking state (with a Hindu majority), while the western portion of Punjab retained a mostly Punjabi language-speaking majority (with a Sikh majority) and remained as the current day federated state of Punjab. However, the city of Chandigarh was on the border, and was thus created into a union territory to serve as capital of both these states.