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The missing Sector 13 of this mecca for the world’s architects has been found–500 kilometres away in the cold desert Himalayan “Chandigarh” on the National Highway-5 to Tibet.

Struck with triskaidekaphobia, a western fear of the unlucky number, Le Corbusier, Swiss-French architect who designed India’s first planned city as his lifetime of work, created noSector 13, though he gave Chandigarh everything from great art and architecture to the scenic backdrop of Shivalik hills. How a small Chandigarh, just as green and immigrant, came to appear in a snow-clad region of Himachal Pradesh is part of folklore associated with former prime minister Indira Gandhi and the 1962 war with China.

The story goes that to set up a base at Lepcha during the war, the army bought it from the locals, whom Indira promised to relocate to a Union Territory in the mak ing called Chandigarh. They never were relocated and they chose to settle in the valley along the Spiti river.Some locals say their forefathers were shown some sites near Panchkula but they wouldn’t settle for a satellite town. They’d rather be near the snow-clad peaks of Spiti.Out of their unfulfilled desire to live in the promised land, they named this place Chandigarh.

Located in between Kinnaur and Spiti, the Himalayan clone is quite far from Chandigarh, and even from Himachal Pradesh’s capital Shimla, it is about 350 km. On way to the Buddhist monas tery hamlets of Tabo and Kaza, you can’t miss the breathtaking landscape, a patch of green amid white. Native Stanzin Dorjee said: “We turned this cold desert green by growing apple, peas, and potato. From its greenery , you can identify Chandigarh from far.”
Former Himachal Pradesh tribal affairs minister Phunchok Rai said: “Earlier this place was known as Hur ling. The current name is born out its people’s unfulfilled desire to live in the Shivalik foothills. Locals say this is the missing Sector 13.”
It might be too small even on a map, GPS (global positioning system) might not show it, but once it appears in front, you have no doubt this is the place, albeit they call it `the Abode of God’, a spellbinding beauty of nature, a Himalayan `Chandigarh’.

 Courtesy: Times of India

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