I have always been fascinated with the passion exhibited by artists the world over and have always been awed and humbled when I stand in front of their creations. Whether it be the Sistine Chapel where Michael Angelo’s creation mesmerizes you or it is the Gol Gumbaz which sends you into a tizzy as you experience its whispering gallery.
So it was no small wonder that when we were on a road trip that took us from Delhi to Shimla and then onwards to Manali. We ensured that on our way back we halt in Chandigarh to experience the fantasyland that is known as the Rock Garden. Rock Garden in Chandigarh is a sculpture garden created by Nek Chand. This garden is very unique and is visited by millions of people.
I had heard and read a lot about a man simply known as Nek Chand. The Rock Garden in Chandigarh was a culmination of his imagination and fantasy cemented and given shape by sheer grit and determination. The story of the birth of the Rock Garden is as fascinating as the garden itself.
The story began on the 15th of December, 1924 when Nek Chand Saini was born in Barian Kalan in Shakargarh region of Gurdaspur District. These were the days before India gained its independence. This place is now a part of Pakistan. In 1947, Nek Chand and his family, like a million others moved to Chandigarh in the wake of the partition.
Those were the days when Chandigarh was still being built as India’s first planned city under the tutelage of the renowned French architect Le Corbusier. The young Nek Chand found a job as a Roads Inspector with the Public Works Department of the city. Quite a mundane and unexciting job one would think. But no, Nek Chand was no ordinary man, the spark of genius sizzled in his consciousness straining to break into a passionate flame.
After his work, Nek Chand began collecting waste material from demolition sites across the city and ferrying them to a hidden gorge away from the city, a virtual no man’s land. A place which was his well-kept secret. Within the inner recesses of his mind, he was visualizing a fairyland, a dreamland that would one day take shape with the skillful expertise of his hands. Night after night, Nek Chand gave full rein to his dreams and expertly using the waste material generously mixed with his creativity to fashion an enchanting fairyland. Nek Chand and his secret utopia remained unknown to the world for a period of 18 long years!
It was in the year 1975 that Nek Chand’s secret Utopia was discovered by the authorities. By this time the fairyland spanned an area of 13 acres and was a fantasyland filled with interlinked courtyards. The courtyards had come alive with hundreds of sculptures of dancers, musicians, ordinary men and women going about their chores, animals, and birds. All the figures were made from recycled waste which included broken ceramic crockery, broken bangles, mosaic tiles, and slag.
Nek Chand’s labour of love was now in danger of being destroyed as it was illegal and had encroached on Government land. However, the creative genius and beauty of his work swayed public opinion in his favour and his work was given the official stamp of recognition when it was opened as a Public space.
Today the Rock Garden is spread out over an area of 40 acres and is built entirely of domestic and industrial waste and items that people have discarded as useless. Electrical waste, bottles, tiles and all kind of waste blend into a mind boggling tapestry of creativity to create a stunning world that is at once beautiful and strangely haunting.
Nek Chand breathed his last on the 12th of June, 2015. A man at peace. A man who had dreamt and fantasised. A man who had singlehandedly chased his dream and sculpted it into reality, stroke by stroke.
As you saunter in the grounds of the sprawling Rock Garden, looking at artificial waterfalls, an amphitheatre and other wonders shaped from waste, you can never escape from the glance of the men, women, children, animals and birds who stand in mute testimony to the creative genius of a man. A man called Nek Chand.
Some Useful Information for your trip to the Rock Garden
How to Get to the Rock Garden
- The Rock Garden is located in Chandigarh city
- Chandigarh is about 243 kilometers from the Indian capital city of Delhi
- Chandigarh is well connected by Air and road to all major cities of India
Rock Garden Timings & Entrance Fees
- The Rock Garden is open from 9 AM to 7.30 PM during April to September
- The Rock Garden is open from 9 AM to 6 PM from October to March
- The Rock Garden is open on all days of the week
- The entry ticket to the Rock Garden is INR 20 for adults and INR 10 for children
- To really enjoy and experience the beauty of the garden plan to spend 4-5 hours there
Some Places near to Chandigarh
- The picturesque hill station of Shimla is situated about 114 kilometres from Chandigarh
- The pristine town of Dharamshala, the abode of the Dalai Lama is situated about 246 kilometres from Chandigarh
- Amritsar is situated about 233 kilometres from Chandigarh
Have you visited Rock Garden in Chandigarh?
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