India’s tallest victory tower ft. Hyundai Verna – Icons of India
For the first part of the Icons of India series, we drive the brand new Hyundai Verna to India’s tallest victory tower located in the vicinity of Chandigarh and also take a closer look at how the iconic Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier helped create the country’s first modern planned city.
By Dhruv Saxena: As part of the new Icons of India series with Hyundai, we’re exploring the country’s culture, heritage and diversity. For the first installment, we got hold of the striking new Hyundai Verna in its most exciting avatar – 1.5 turbo petrol with a 6-speed manual transmission – and made our way to the tri-city area of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula.
Around 230km from New Delhi, the highway is a busy one connecting the national capital with Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, all the way to Ladakh. In terms of quality, the roads, at least until Chandigarh, are decent, but there are a couple of under-construction patches along the way, which combined with slow-moving commercial vehicles, can lead to traffic snarls.
Time lost was easily made up thanks to the segment-best 160bhp turbo petrol under the hood of our Verna, making it oh so easy to execute quick overtakes and allowing us to cruise effortlessly at highway speeds.
Following Nowicki’s death in a plane crash in 1950 which led to Mayer backing out of the project, Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier took over and created the city that was seen by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as one that’s “symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past, an expression of the nation’s faith in the future”.
Le Corbusier Centre in Sector 19, one of the earliest buildings constructed in the city, chronicles the architect’s work on the city, offering a glimpse into the conception of its most prominent buildings, including the Capitol Complex which comprises the Legislative Assembly, the Secretariat Building and the High Court. In 2016, the Capitol Complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting Le Corbusier’s contribution to the development of modernist architecture.
The planning and logic that has gone into the layout of the road network in the city also pays dividends when it comes to keeping the flow of traffic smooth. Of course, the tri-city area isn’t burdened with the same volume of traffic as, say, New Delhi or Mumbai, but for a city whose plans were laid out in the 60s, despite the exponential rise in vehicular movement since, the road network still doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
Chandigarh’s road users deserve praise as well for their discipline and respect for rules, following lanes, making proper use of indicators and, in general, exhibiting greater regard for laws governing traffic movement than we’ve seen in other cities in the country. And while we admired that driving around the city, the new Hyundai Verna was busy grabbing eyeballs thanks to its eye-catching styling, amplified further by the Fiery Red shade our car was finished in.
We’re out and about with new cars all the time, that’s something our profession entails, but aside from significantly more expensive ones of the luxury and sports car kind, we’ve rarely experienced this level of attention, no exaggeration.
Located on the outskirts of Chandigarh in Mohali district, Fateh Burj pays homage to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and his army’s victory over Mughal forces led by Wazir Khan. Fought on the plains of Chappar Chiri, the village where Fateh Burj is located, the battle took place on May 12, 1710, triggered in part by the execution of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh’s two children by Wazir Khan, governor of Sirhind.
At 100m tall, the Fateh Burj is taller than the Qutub Minar (73m) and is proclaimed as the tallest victory tower in India. Construction commenced in January 2011, marking the third centenary of the Battle of Chappar Chiri and it was completed in just 11 months. Its top is decorated with a dome and a Khanda – the symbol of the Sikh faith.
Split into three sections, each is dedicated to Banda Singh Bahadur’s conquests, with the first commemorating his victory over the Mughals in the Battle of Samana, the second one for the Battle of Sadhaura fought between Sikhs and the combined forces of Sayyids and the Sheiks and the third honouring Banda Singh Bahadur’s heroics in the Battle of Chappar Chiri defeating Mughal forces. Within the walls of the Fateh Burj complex are statues of Banda Singh Bahadur and his five generals – Fateh Singh, Aali Singh, Maali Singh, Baaj Singh and Ram Singh.
The complex itself is immaculately maintained with its lawns and water body offering a calm and serene setting, a stark contrast to the violence that must have ensued during the battle fought on this very land. It’s a fitting tribute to the legendary Sikh Warrior, Banda Singh Bahadur and his heroics not just at Chappar Chiri, but over the course of his storied life until his execution at the hands of the Mughals in 1716.
Chandigarh-Delhi-Chandigarh is a route we’ve driven on countless occasions and isn’t one we’d classify as exciting, but the Hyundai Verna helped keep the thrill alive with its powerful engine, well-weighted steering and a good old manual transmission. As for the Icons of India series, we’re just getting started and more cars, more adventures and more iconic sites of India await us. Stay tuned.
Hyundai Verna owner’s perspective
Maj Aman Malik recently took delivery of his brand new Hyundai Verna, a car he picked because of its “stylish looks, features and comfortable drive.” He needed a car that could drive well on the highway besides fulfilling his requirements for city driving.
Highlighting his favourite aspects of the car, Maj Aman Malik said – “The Verna’s drive quality in the city and on highways is great. I like the way the steering behaves as well because its suits my driving style. Looks are obviously something that attracted me to the car. The big boot is another aspect that made me opt for the Verna.” He added that Hyundai as a brand with its extensive sales and service network made him go for the new Verna.