10 May, 2023
Unlock the doors to real estate success
Read time: 9 minutes
Ancient Blueprints to Modern Marvels


Image source: Guwahati Times

Planning is the launchpad for development.

Almost a century back from the current day, people settled down with their bags and established a community wherever they felt like. Whether it was the hills of the North-East or the deserts of the West.

But we have since come a long way, the government and promoters now take responsibility to not only establish a couple of houses or residential flats spread across a few acres but entire cities and townships.

India was traditionally recognized as a country of villages. But what we often forget is that civilizations like the Indus Valley were once a part of the Indian subcontinent.

It arguably was home to some of the most advanced civilizations of its time featuring:

  • Town planning
  • Right-angled road crossings
  • Construction of burnt brick houses
  • Planned Urban center, and various other striking features

In the recent past, we seem to have taken inspiration from our history lessons and decided to build entirely new cities with planning done beforehand. The GIFT City in Gujarat, Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab & Haryana, Bhubaneshwar in Orissa, and the city of Noida in Uttar Pradesh serve as some of the most prime examples of the same.

Interestingly, the cities of Chandigarh and Bhubaneshwar were among the first planned cities of India. Otto Konigsberger, the German architect heading Bhubaneshwar and the French architect Le Corbusier responsible for designing Chandigarh.

Except for the part that all these cities have a concrete plan laid down before the execution takes place, how do they stand apart from the majority of Indian cities?

Now before deep diving into the same, let me give you a heads up on:

Why did we need these cities in the first place?

The need for these planned cities arose to overcome the issues of:

  • Poverty
  • Overcrowding, and
  • Pollution emissions faced by a bulk of Indian cities.

Coming back to how the planned modern cities differ from our existing ones, besides having a sound structural plan before a brick is laid down, the purpose of these cities is to fulfil each and every necessity of each and every resident to be.

As these are private or government-controlled projects from the very beginning, there is a limit on the maximum population of the town, the number of vehicles, and several other factors as well.

This allows every citizen to have all the necessary requirements met such as healthcare, employment, education, while avoiding the overcrowding aspect at the same time.

These factors do not only encourage the buyers to purchase a piece of real estate here but also are encouraging for the governments to govern and contractors to build.

While these planned cities have an abundance of positives to look at, they carry a fair share of negatives as well. But, let me first throw light on the pros of a planned city and why you should pay more attention to such projects.

Whenever a planned city project is undertaken, it is thought to solve all problems that currently exist with the cities. This leads to the planned cities providing benefits such as:

  • Designed keeping in mind the sustainability factor. Planned cities, unlike the ones in which most of us currently reside, are built taking into account the lifestyle needs of the future generations while fulfilling the current requirements. Being sustainable, these cities are environmentally friendly as well.
  • Reduction in the risk of natural disasters. During the construction phase of planned cities, steps are taken to minimize the life risk possible during earthquakes, floodings, or landslides.
  • Drastic improvements in access to education. The proportion of population to public access buildings such as schools, colleges, universities, libraries are planned beforehand. This leads to no shortage or wastage of any of the resources. At the same time, these buildings are located at an average distance from all households.
  • No wastage of resources, lesser cost of living. One of the biggest reasons behind the ever-rising cost of living is, one section of the society that wastes in plenty and the other that fails to secure the minimum. When the balance between consumption and production has been worked out before the society has started functioning, the chances of a rise in cost of living are reduced considerably.
  • Improved worker productivity. In some of the largest Indian cities such as Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai, people are exhausted even before they have started their official working hours. Why is this so? Traffic and Transit time are the two main reasons. An ever-growing population leads to increased traffic jams which can eat up a chunk of your energy. It has been observed that in planned cities, people have their offices located relatively close to their homes, leading to reduced transit times, and thus higher energy levels during the productive hours of the day.

Every coin always has a flip side, and it is no different with these planned cities. Although they do not have as many cons as they have pros, there are still a few which might leave you scratching your head.

  • First of all, planned cities have at times an absence of culture. India is a diverse country with every state having its indigenous communities, its local languages and beliefs that have taken shape over the past years. These cultures or beliefs bring a feeling of togetherness to the community. But a city which has no particular language or culture that resonates is history, is something that might feel absurd at times.
  • Heavy environmental damage. Although the planned cities look to play the long game and become environmentally friendly as time progresses, their construction causes a havoc to the environment. A lot of construction work is undertaken during a particular period of time leading to excessive pollution levels.
  • Missing heritage of Past Construction. Every large city in India or towns across the country have a certain piece of architecture that reflects the rich heritage of the place. But unfortunately, planned cities can never facilitate these requirements as they are built from scratch with no remains from the past within the area.
  • Risk involved in planning the future. A key aspect of building a planned city like Chandigarh or Gandhinagar is assessing the future needs of the population. While the planners can take the most scientific approach, what the future holds or requires cannot be accurately calculated. Electric vehicles were a foreign concept 50 years ago but now the most advanced cities are filled with such vehicles.

To weigh in these pros and cons in a more practical manner, let me give you insights into two of the most popular planned cities in India, GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City), and Chandigarh.

Beginning with the city that has been the talk of the town lately,

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City or as it is popularly recognized, GIFT, is a business district being constructed in the Gandhinagar district of Gujarat. Now, not only is GIFT a planned city but also a smart city that keeps efficient performance at the forefront.

As earlier mentioned under the advantages of planned cities, GIFT has been designed in a way that practically allows its residents to walk to work, promoting health and reducing pollution.

GIFT is known to be spread over an area of 886 acres out of which around 260 acres falls under the category of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) highlighting the work potential of the city. At the same time, it has been built on the banks of the river Sabarmati to provide an additional means of transportation and mesmerizing scenic views for the residents.

The city is currently under construction and if things go according to plan, it might soon be the global hub for multiple businesses across the world. Over the past decade, companies from countries like Singapore have been invited to conduct business at GIFT in the near future owing to a shortage of land in Singapore.

Moving on to one of the best cities to live in India, and my native city,


Often recalled as the dream city of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the city of Chandigarh was constructed over a period of 19 years spanning from 1951-1970. Besides providing great habitable conditions, Chandigarh is located at the foothills of Shivaliks and is hardly an hour’s drive away from some of the most picturesque views.

In case you have never been to Chandigarh, you might be shocked to know that despite being the capital city of two Indian states, it does not have a lot of high-rise buildings. What might shock you further is that this was part of the master plan laid down by the team of architects designing this city.

These steps were taken keeping in mind the message that this city conveyed. Chandigarh reflected the message of the post war Garden City. The focal point of the architects was to increase the practicality of the city for its habitants.

Unlike many other Indian cities that feature curving road networks and are haphazardly spread over a large area of land, Chandigarh is largely rectangular in shape. At the same time, similar to the cities of Indus Valley Civilization, all the main roads of Chandigarh are straightened, drastically reducing traffic congestion.

While devising the master layout for this city, Le Corbusier divided the entire city area into four divisions, each serving a particular function. These four divisions included:

  • Living
  • Working
  • Care of the body and spirit, and
  • Circulation

As you might have guessed, the living function comprised the city’s residential blocks, the educational centers, and the city center. While the working division was home to factories and offices headed by the city’s residents.

The care of the body and spirit function includes the greenery of the city, contributing largely to Chandigarh’s nickname as The City Beautiful.

Traffic, considered as one of the major headaches of all metropolitans in the 21st century, is something that Chandigarh doesn’t know about. The circulation division of Le Corbusier’s plan comprised 7 distinct road types, also known as the 7Vs that manage all of the city’s hustle and bustle without a hiccup.

Chandigarh is arguably one of the most complete cities in India and amongst the best to live in, and no surprises once again, it is one of the country’s first planned cities.

If we take a closer look at, these modern-day planned cities are nothing but an upgrade on the cities that flourished under the Indus Valley Civilization.

It is ironic how as we move further towards the future, we learn more from the past.

Planned cities and establishments are the future. They meet the issues of climate change and population management head on and aim for a sustainable future.

If you are to take it from me, keep your ears and eyes open for anything that talks about planned cities.

That’s it from my side for this edition of Open House, I hope now you have a better idea about all the fad behind planned cities, and as always, until the next edition, remember

These townships and planned cities maybe inspired from the past but are a pathway for the future.

Disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.

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By Ashwinder R. Singh
Step up your real estate game with exclusive access to tribal knowledge accumulated over decades.
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