A Visit To The Rock Garden In Chandigarh
About The Rock Garden In Chandigarh
The Rock Garden in Chandigarh is a very famous and popular tourist attraction for visitors to Chandigarh city. Spread over an area of about 40 acres in a former jungle area, the rock garden is essentially a sculpture garden but made by using trash in the form of household and industrial waste products like used bottles, broken ceramic tiles, bangles, glass, china, electrical fittings, pots, sanitary ware and crockery; scrap metal wires, fused tube lights, lime kiln waste, discarded metal frames, handle bars, human hair, stones, pebbles, old tires etc.
The Rock Garden can rightfully be called a green garden as products that could have easily been thrown away as junk and useless were put to constructive use instead of letting them cause environmental clutter and pollution.
The entire garden is made up of large courtyards of mosaic and are linked to each other by high and low paths surrounded by high rise walls and deep gorges. There are a number of huge buildings interlinked with an amazing number of waterfalls, thousands of sculptures of various shapes and sizes.
Rock Garden PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
History Of The Rock Garden
The Rock Garden is a creation of the great visionary and self taught artist, Nek Chand Saini who was a government road inspector in Chandigarh city, way back in the 1950s.
It all started when in 1957, Nek Chand started building this garden secretly by collecting waste and scrap material himself by moving about on his bicycle. He worked at night sculpting various figurines. All this work was carried out in a gorge in an jungle area, located close to where the Sukhna lake is today, for fear of detection by the government authorities as the land was one that was excluded from development being in a forest area.
For almost 18 years Nek Chand toiled, by day in his job and by night in his passion, relentessly working on his dream project almost single handedly. In 1975, the local government officials discovered what he had been up to but by that time the rock garden had encroached on about 12 acres of forest reserve land with about 2000 sculptures of animals, birds, dancers musicians etc. Nek Chand had built a fantasy world of palaces, pavilions and other structures depicting Indian village life.
The government officials were in a quandary as by law the entire structure needed to be razed down being created on a land designated as a forest conservatory with no permission for construction purposes.
However, public opinion favored retention of the now built Rock Garden when people flocked to visit this creation and were enchanted with it. The government machinery had no option but to bow down to public pressure and relent. The Rock Garden was then formally announced public property and was opened to the public.
Nek Chand was promoted from his erstwhile post, made the Sub Division Engineer of the Rock Garden and given 50 workers to complete the garden.
Today, the Rock Garden is Chandigarh city's chief tourist attraction. It is not home to roses or other flowers; instead it is a garden of art.
The Rock Garden is now acnowledged as one of the modern wonders of the world. It attracts about 5000 visitors everyday. It is open daily from 9 AM to 7 PM in summer (1 April to 30 September) and from 9 AM to 6 PM in winter (1 October to 31 March).
It is located in Sector 1 almost adjacent to Sukhna Lake, another popular tourist attraction.
More Photos Of The Rock GardenClick thumbnail to view full-size
About Nek Chand
Nek Chand was awarded the Padam Shri (equivalent of a British knighthood) in 1984 by the Indian government. One of his sculptures appeared on an Indian postage stamp. International praise and recognition has also been lavishly showered on the humble Nek Chand.
He was awarded the Grande Medaille de Vermeil in Paris in 1980. He has received hundreds of awards.
Nek Chand was requested to construct a garden at the children's Museum, Washington DC, by Ann Lewis, the Director of the museum.
Nek Chand's figurines have been installed in various museums around the world like:
- The Capitol Children's Museum, in Washington DC.
- The american Folk Art museum, in New York.
- The main entrance to the Collection de l'art brut in Lausanne, Switzerland.
- The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, in Winconsin USA.
Nek chand has been given honorary citizenship of various countries. He has also built another rock garden in Kerala, a state in South India.
Nek Chand foundation is a registered charity formed in 1997 with the aim to support Nek Chand's work and raise awareness of Nek Chand's work worldwide. A volunteer work is also underway with the foundation. more details can be had from www.nekchand.com
The Rock Garden in Chandigarh is a must see for all visitors to Chandigarh.
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A Personal Visit To The Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India, on 10 November 2012
© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly