The Fascinating Story of Nek Chand and the Rock Garden in Chandigarh

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

Rock Garden

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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!

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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.

Rock Garden, Chandigarh, India

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

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?

Rock Garden

Rock Garden

 

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125 thoughts on “The Fascinating Story of Nek Chand and the Rock Garden in Chandigarh

  1. Danik Reply

    Never heard of Ned Chand before but it was great to come across this post and read about it. Love the rock formation gardens to.

  2. Abhinav Singh Reply

    Everyone know about the Rock Gardens in Chandigarh, but not many know about the story of Nekchand including me. This is an eye opening blog. I hope to visit it soon.

  3. Deepa Reply

    Oh this reminded me of our rock garden trip. I am nostalgic now. It is definitely worth going once. I went 6 years back.

  4. Neha Saini Reply

    Best example of creativity. I have visited this place at my own its fabulous, one could not even imagine to utilize the scrap in such a beautiful manner.

  5. Candy Reply

    Wow, I have never seen a garden like this! The Rock Garden is so unique and gorgeous. So glad that his work was not destroyed and that the people’s opinion helped swayed the government’s disdain for it.

  6. Lord Reply

    Very interesting story! It’s inspiring how he saw all those “waste” useful and utilized them for his art.

  7. Neely Moldovan Reply

    I had never heard of this but it was so interested. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Rutavi Reply

    Rock Garden somehow has really fascinated me 🙂 This has great story and history I must say. Interesting story of Nek Chand. I am sure many would not know about it

  9. Nellwyn Reply

    I can’t believe I’d never heard of this place before! It looks like a beautiful place to visit. Would love to go someday.

  10. valmg @ Mom Knows It All Reply

    I have never been or heard of it previously. It looks really cool, you can see that the figures obviously took a lot of time and effort to put together and the person that did was talented and imaginative.

  11. Ivy Reply

    I’ve never seen anything like this before! This is the first time I’ve heard of a rock garden, actually. It looks like a very interesting place and I’d love to stop by if we ever visit India.

  12. Melissa Reply

    Rock Garden has a very interesting history behind it. This is the first time I’m hearing about this and I would love to visit this someday.

  13. Liz Mays Reply

    The things Nek Chand managed to create with these rocks are so impressive. It is very cool how he was able to make so much with waste material from demolitions!

  14. Briana Reply

    This is so cool! I have never even heard of a Rock Garden before. What a fun post! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Henry Reply

    What a cool story! It’s great to see that the rock garden got official government recognition. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Aubrie Reply

    Wow I have never heard about this place before, but it looks so unique and beautiful and I am glad that they didn’t tear it down!

  17. Nicole Anderson Reply

    I found this place and the story to be really fascinating! Before reading this post, I had no idea this existed and I would just love to visit this place and experience the art for myself. Fabulous photos and wonderful story of such a dedicated artist.

  18. adriana Reply

    What a gorgeous location! I’ve never heard of it – it looks stunning. I’ll have to check it out!

  19. Elizabeth O. Reply

    It’s fascinating to be able to come here and just see all the statues and sculptures. They’re all a work of art. I would love to see these in person someday.

  20. Christina Reply

    Amazing! I have seen art made from recycled materials before. But they were mostly small trinket sold in local markets. He has taken this art to a whole new level. It is amazing that it took the authorities so long before the site was discovered. Glad it was kept intact and visitors can now enjoy his life work.

  21. Menaka Bharathi Reply

    I visited this garden when I was in school. It was so interesting and the water glowing withing these rocks was something that got my attention at that time. The rock statues, figures and figurines did make me wonder how it was possible!

  22. travel blogger Reply

    This is so fascinating! I love how it is made up of so many materials. I cannot believe it is in danger of being torn down. It is such a fascinating place. I would love to visit.

  23. The Travel Ninjas Reply

    This rock garden is indeed fascinating. It’s hard to believe how massive it is at 40 acres. And it’s also amazing that it’s made from recycled materials. It’s so poetic how he took ugly waste and turned it all into inspiring beauty. Thanks for introducing this gem. We’d love to see this for ourselves.

  24. David Elliott Reply

    The rock garden looks absolutely amazing. My daughter would love visiting a place like this. It’s nice that he was able to keep his work and the people prevented the government from destroying it.

  25. Anthony Jury Reply

    It is always fascinating visiting a place that has such amazing artwork. you could spends hours at a place like this and not be bored that I am sure. I am putting this rock garden on the list of must do’s.

  26. Marion Halliday (Red Nomad OZ) Reply

    What a fantastic monument to creativity – and recycling! I particularly like the cats – and you’d never think the whole park was made from cast offs and rubbish!! Just as well the authorities didn’t destroy it – we’d have missed out on something marvellous!

  27. Anita Reply

    It’s really fascinating story about one man’s many years hard work and dedication. I haven’t heard about the sculpture garden in Chandigarh and Nek Chand before. It would be nice to visit some day.

  28. Divsi Reply

    The Rock Garden has always fascinated me. The creations aren’t just so innovative with switches, tiles, broken tube lights and things so mundane that only an immensely creative person can see beauty it those:)
    He was my grandfather’s friend and I still remember the pride in his voice when he took us as kids to visit the place 🙂

  29. Bornomadic Reply

    Everyone I know seems to talk about Chandigarh. But this write-up has definitely given me a reason to visit the place. Thank You for sharing this. Also, the pictures are amazing 🙂

  30. Raghav - TickerEatsTheWorld Reply

    I remember visiting the Rock Garden around the time it opened and being in complete awe of it. It really is a true labour of love and just how passion and art and a social cause can all combine into something so beautiful. I haven’t been there for more than a decade but would love to take my kids there now. It has expanded and the installations are a lot grander than when I visited it. Nice on you to focus on it.

  31. minimedge Reply

    You’re so lucky that you could see this place. The Rock Garden is simply amazing. Great blog, added to bookmarks 😉

  32. kelly reci Reply

    that was a very nice place to visit! The Rock Garden looks very unique! never seen any place that looks like this! very nice post!

  33. Marge Reply

    A sculpted garden? Never heard of such a thing before. Wow this is very interesting. And the scuptures themselves look amazing. So much respect for the man who made this possible, Nek Chand. Imagine, he created this place using waste material, if that is not genius I don’t what is.

  34. Danijela WorldGlimpses Reply

    Chand’s story is such an inspiration! One has to appreciate the park even more when having in mind that the man did it by himself, out of those leftover stones. Stunning effort and beautiful mosaics. Thanks for sharing, didn’t know about this!

  35. Dogvills Reply

    It is just amazing how one man can do all of that work. Creating beautiful artwork from scrap materials is worth all the respect and accolade. Thanks for letting us know about the Rock Garden in Chandigarh. Hope to be able to visit someday.

  36. Lorraine Reply

    Interesting read. I never knew this existed however I love to take trips just to explore so I’ll have to add this to my list to complete over the next few years.

  37. Nuraini Reply

    Wow. It reminds me of the other story I read recently about the man who planted trees for years until it’s now a forest with tigers and things… It seems like it’s feasible to make awesome things independently in India – if you keep it secret for a decade or so…!

  38. Julie syl Reply

    It looks very interesting! I am glad to know about this. Looks like historical!

  39. lex Reply

    good story and an amazing place to visit , truly such places gives you that desire to always want more of the visit to get to experience it all first hand…

  40. Fábio Inácio Reply

    I have never been there and it is a shame for me after have been many times in India! it looks a great idea, gorgeous garden!! The man who does this artwork is amazing, I love the artistic people! 🙂

  41. Tania Mukherjee Reply

    I visited Rock Garden when I was somewhere around 6-7 year old. I found it very very fascinating almost like a wonderland, BUT, then I forgot all about the fascinating part. It was only when the great man, Nek Chand, died, an article was out in the newspaper. That article portrayed his story and it moved me. India really needs to recognize more people like Nek Chand!

  42. you.theworld.wandering Reply

    Wow this is one of the coolest things I have ever read! I sculpture fairyland, created from recycled materials. I cannot believe it was 13 acres by the time authorities discovered it – that’s incredible! Will definitely be remembering this place! Thanks!
    Kristie – you.theworld.wandering

  43. Elisa Reply

    Interesting place that I am just discovering thanks to this post. What happened to Nek after the discovery and approval by local authorities? Did he became rich and famous and skipped his real job? Just one correction: Le Corbusier is a SWISS architect, not french

  44. Darlene Reply

    What a cool place! Such creativeness and perseverance to build something like this
    Would love to visit this place too

  45. Ami Reply

    Now that is a very inspiring story. I did not know this one behind the rock garden. The garden itself looks fascinating and artistic and well maintained tooo.

  46. cathy Reply

    Rock garden really rocks! Those sculptures especially the one on the artificial waterfall really caught my eye. xx

  47. Jim Reply

    I am a nerd when it comes to these things! Thank you so much for scratching that itch! 🙂 I want to visit it now.

  48. Bhushavali Reply

    I’ve been wanting to go to Rock Garden since ages. Nek Chand is always quoted when we talk about Indian Modern Art! The only glimpse I’ve had is, when I was on a one day work trip to Chandigarh and I saw those huge sculptures just outside the railway station. 🙁
    Btw, I was severely reminded of Nek Chand when I saw Antoni Gaudi’s works!!!

  49. Reshma Reply

    What an interesting story behind this amazing place! Neckchand is an example to show that passion can go a long way. The place looks great. Inspiring!

  50. shayan Naveed Reply

    I’m also fascinated by art and culture like this. This seems a bit similar (but not really) to the hell garden in Chonburi, Thailand. Although this place has a more subtle and peaceful feel to it.

  51. Manouk Reply

    Amazing! Have never heart of this art city! Really like the story behind it and it’s so well written! I can appreciate art a lot, as a matter of fact I’m an artist myself. Thank you for sharing!

  52. Indrani Reply

    I visited this place some years back and it stunned me beyond words. So much creativity with just waste products! I wish every city of India had a Nek Chand!

  53. Punita Malhotra Reply

    Nek Chand’s legacy lives on. Someone who left his creative touch onto a city, not just his own home or neighbourhood. How many people can do that?

  54. Adrenaline Romance Reply

    Wow, that looks amazing! When it comes to rock gardens, what comes into our minds are the usual Zen gardens. This is one creative idea! The rock mosaics are out of this world.

  55. Cai Dominguez Reply

    This is amazing! I never heard of something like this. This is pure art 😉 would love to see rock garden soon. Thanks for sharing a detailed article!

  56. Iza Abao Reply

    I have seen anything similar to this. It looks very interesting! I am sure that it is difficult to maintain these works of art. I would like to bring my nephews here so that they can also admire the talent of the artist.

  57. sophie Reply

    This actually is very fascinating! I would love to visit it very soon! I have also heard that Chandigarh the city its self is so beautiful! looking forward to visiting it soon! Cheers! 🙂

  58. arv! Reply

    I have visited Rock gardens many years ago. It’s quite unique and special. Kudos to the creator! This post refreshed memories!

  59. Kallsy Reply

    In many ways it reminds me of the zen gardens in Japan. They look nothing alike but the way that the monks rake the rocks each mornings into a beautiful pattern is similar to the art of the rock garden! So beautiful.

  60. Wanderlust Vegans Reply

    Wow. This rock garden looks like such a cool place! I love the little sculptures! It is so creative and original. I would love to visit one day. Added to the bucket list!

  61. Christina P Reply

    Now that is a creative rock garden. What neat sculptures and I do like discovering new and quirky places like this one.

  62. Megan Jerrard Reply

    Such a fascinating place and story – in my opinion, if you’ve held claim to a land for 18 years then it’s yours!! Lol … So glad that the public stood up for his artwork and preserved the park 🙂

  63. Kelly Reply

    I have never heard of this place but it looks stunning. I love hearing the story behind the creation of such fabulous art. I too get inspired by such innovation and creativity that is displayed through incredible works of art like this.

  64. Jo Reply

    Can you believe I am just few hours away from Chandigarh (delhi) and I have only ever “crossed” it few times to go to Kasol/Dharamshala etc up North. So sad. I know Chandigarh is so pretty and I def want to see the rock garden – this calls for a visit!

  65. Sarah Stierch Reply

    One of my oldest friends worked on the conservation project to help preserve this rock garden. Very cool to read your post about it!

  66. Milijana Reply

    Omg, the Rock Garden in Chandigarh is visited by millions of people and I have never heard of it before!! The garden looks so interesting and I am adding it to my India bucket list.

  67. Rhonda Albom Reply

    This place is wonderful. It’s hard to believe that Nek Chand was able to work in secrecy for so many years especially considering the size of his project. The sculptures are fabulous and this place is a must see when I go to India.

  68. Izzy Reply

    I’m a huge enthusiast when it comes to artistic ventures being a graphic designer so reading about this fantasyland makes my heart squee with joy! I love the mosaic work and the fact that Nek Chand worked on this place for the last 18 years purely out of passion. I also love the fact that these are all recycled works of art! Bravo!

  69. Maria Reply

    Never heard of this place or about its creator. What an amazing site. Immediately reminded me of Parc Guell in Barcelona.

  70. Gerald Sarmiento Reply

    I stayed in Chandigarh for three months doing volunteer job in 2008. I’m so happy reading your article. Brought tons of memories. 🙂

  71. Jean Reply

    Wow this rock garden is amazing! I had never heard of it before but so glad I found your article with these great photos.

  72. Sreeram Reply

    Never heard of this place, quite an interesting history. Good to knowstory behind the creation of such impressive art-work.

  73. The Clueless Abroad Reply

    That’s fascinating! I’m glad to see that there are visionaries like this all over the world. After having seen Gaudi and Hundertwasser’s creations, I’m pretty sure that I’d love to visit the Rock Garden too. 🙂 These mosaics look beautiful!

  74. melody pittman Reply

    I’ve never heard of this rock garden in Nek Chand or even heard of it (or any rock garden for that matter) but it is cute as can be. I love the whimsical way they portray the people and animals. ; )

  75. Vicki Louise Reply

    What a stunning and intricate rock/sculpture garden. It’s so great for creatives to find ways to express themselves that are a little off the wall. It keeps life interesting!

  76. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) Reply

    Amazing rock garden but the story is fascinating. 40 Acres of hard work done by Nek Chand. Happy the government let his rock garden stay. This would be a fascinating place to visit. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 #feetdotravel

  77. Priya Reply

    What a fascinating story, never heard of Ned Chand or the rock garden before. Love this labor of love and his creations, so unique and great to learn that everything was made using recycled materials. Thanks for sharing, would love to visit someday.

  78. US Visa Service Reply

    Very interesting! I didn’t know the place honestly until I saw your post, but their creativity is amazing. Rock Garden seems a good place to visit.

  79. Christopher Reply

    Sometimes it’s not just about the art itself but the story behind the art or the artist. This is a very interesting story. Fiuny how mundane jobs can lead to exciting works of art. The pictures are fantastic!

  80. Sara Broers Reply

    A rock garden out of recycled materials? Wow, this is amazing! I had no idea anything like this existed. Each area looks to be a unique piece of art and I’m sure people return often, as it looks beautiful.

  81. Mimi & Mitch Reply

    Mitch & myself never heard of ned chand before and are very happy to learn of of it! Rock gardens are a must and would love to go!

  82. Tami Reply

    I’d never heard of this Rock Garden before reading your post. I’m so glad the people (and the government) recognized it as art and preserved the garden. And it is just amazing that all of it is built with things that were thrown away. How awesome that trash could be made into something beautiful and significant!

  83. Jenna Reply

    Wow, what a cool spot! I love that the sculptures were built out of waste–such a great way to recycle. Would love to walk around this spot and check out the rock garden and sculptures–thanks for the suggestion!

  84. Christina Reply

    Oh those mosaics and figures look amazing! Hard to believe it had been undiscovered for a whole 18 years. It reminds me a little of Barcelona actually, I’d be happy to go explore!

  85. Paul Reply

    Like so many others in comments I also haven’t heard of this place! It does look fascinating though and one more reason to visit India, thanks for sharing!

  86. Paula - Gone with the Wine Reply

    Very interesting and cool looking place! I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this. Thanks for adding the sheet of facts on the posting, sometimes it is hard to locate the place people are talking about especially if you haven’t ever been there. You had all the details right there.

  87. verushka Reply

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful work.Will defo be reading up on this artist.

  88. Siddharth and Shruti Reply

    We have been here before and loved it. What a wonderful use of space. Thanks for sharing Nekchand’s story. The rock garden is a beautiful place to visit with family.

  89. Scarlett Begonias Reply

    What a unique story, and a beautiful garden to visit. I was always a geology nerd at heart so seeing the rocks and art would be beautiful. I’ll be adding this to my India bucket list. Thanks 🙂

  90. Travel Lexx Reply

    Wow, such a unique place and looks like a fantastic place to visit. The Rock Garden is definitely somewhere I would love to visit and contemplate for a while!

  91. Vishal Bihani Reply

    This garden is too beautiful. Had heard from lot of people about this. Would be probably visiting Chandigarh in October. It is must visit place on my list. Above information would help a lot to me.

  92. neha Reply

    I remember visiting rock garden with my parents as a small kid. But I was so fascinated with the creations here that I still remember most of them. it’s a perfect example of creating best from waste.

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