The rock garden in Chandigarh, is an epitome of creativity and innovation all done single-handedly by a Road Inspector, named Nek Chand. The 20-acre Rock Garden is a must visit for any tourist. A mystical entrance leads one to an entirely different world of palaces, women, village life, temples, monkeys, soldiers and so on.
So what sets this rock garden apart from the rest?
The fact that this world is an artwork made using industrial & urban waste: a variety of different discarded waste materials like frames, mudguards, forks, handle bars, metal wires, play marbles, porcelain, auto parts, broken bangles, rocks, boulders, broken chinaware, discarded fluorescent tubes, building waste, concrete and steel drums to light switches, broken bathroom sinks, bicycle frames, coal and clay etc. is very amusing. Nek Chand with his creative genius, fruitfully recycled and shaped them into human, animal or abstract forms. These art pieces have been innovatively displayed as sculptures in the rock garden.
The layout of the garden is that of a kingdom. In a corner of the garden, one can find several dancing girls made from broken glass bangles and a gallery of towering arches with dangling rope swings.
It has fourteen chambers like the forecourt housing natural rock-forms, a royal; poet’s and a musician’s chamber complete with a pond and a hut; the main court (Durbar) where the king’s throne adorns the place with natural stone forms depicting gods and goddesses lining the place; a swimming pool for the queen etc.
The third phase of the garden comprises of waterfall, an open air theatre, a village, mountains, over-bridges, vast pavilions with a centre stage are the other highlights of the rock Garden, where art and culture blend amidst the natural surroundings of the garden.Several prestigious performances have been staged here. Electric carts shuttle tourists between here and Sukhna Lake.
How did the rock garden come about?
Starting in 1957, Nek Chand worked for a continuous 20 years but only at nights. This was to keep his unconventional masterpiece from the meddling eyes of the city authorities.
He created more than 2000 sculptures using the discarded junk that was left over from demolishing the 50-odd villages to build the city of Chandigarh. He loved roaming around the Shivalik foothills and picking up stones resembling bird, animal, human and abstract forms. The first seven years (1958-65) were spent collecting natural material and industrial waste.
On 24th February, 1973, the Rock Garden was accidentally discovered by Dr.S.K.Sharma who headed an Anti-malaria party, a surveillance carried out in the forest in which the garden is located. Thereafter,Dr.M.S. Randhawa (the first Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh) visited the place and placed the matter before the Chandigarh Landscape Advisory Committee, as its chairman.
The city authorities soon realised the worth of this project and suggested that it should be preserved in its present form, free from any vandalism from town planners. The Rock Garden was thus inaugurated in 1976.
Nek Chand was born in a village now in Pakistan. He worked as a road inspector in the Engineering Department of the Chandigarh Capital Project. He died on 12th June, 2015 in Chandigarh at the age of 90.People in vast numbers paid their last respects.
The unique world acclaimed rock garden adds to Chandigarh’s beauty and must feature on the itinerary of any visitor. Artists and art lovers from all across the world flock to Chandigarh to see this masterpiece.
The Kerala Rock Garden
Nek Chand Foundation partnered with the Kerala Tourism Ministry to restore Nek Chand’s Rock Garden in Palakkad District in South India. Built between 1993 and 1995, the 1.5 acre garden is located on the edge of a large botanical garden and artificial lake at Malampuzha Village near the Western Ghats. A miniature version of the rock Garden in Chandigarh, the Kerala Garden is Nek Chand’s only garden in South India.
The frequency of visitors at the Garden has always been low, thanks to its remote location. In addition, lack of proper security measures has led to widespread vandalism. The Kerala rock garden is not as celebrated as its counterpart in the north.