During my October trip to India for the Diwali celebration, my friend Sangeeta and I went to Chandigarh. Funnily, despite having stayed there a few times previously, I had never managed to do any sightseeing. I had always really wanted to have a look at the Rock Garden so this was my chance.
This is a unique sculpture garden, which is also known as Nek Chand’s Rock Garden. Nek Chand had an idea of utilising an empty block of land and building a garden there. He started the garden in 1957 and it slowly spread over a huge area. All sculptures in the garden were made out of industrial and domestic waste by Nek Chand himself.
Welcome to the garden!
The tickets cost next to nothing, even for the foreigners, but the guard doesn’t let anybody sneak in without one.
A flock of geese has landed on the walls! They meet and greet visitors.
Nec managed to keep this garden a secret for eighteen years (?). But when the government officials found out, there was a real threat that the garden could be demolished.
The garden was built on government land, which was designated as a conservation area near Sukhna lake.
However with great support from the local people the garden was saved.
On top of that, Nec had a staff of fifty people to help him to create the sculptures and earn a salary too. Life was looking good.
When Indian government recognised this park as an asset, it helped the artist to organise collection centres for dumping waste, which could be used for his work.
Nec used all sorts of waste for his creation. This entire wall has been made using ceramic components from electrical parts.
He created a kingdom of mysterious creatures. This particular display is made from small rocks.
This group of people is made from ceramic plates, sinks and cups.
Cup of tea, anyone?
Over a million visitors coming here every year to admire the strong will and determination of one person. I totally loved this Sikh guy enjoying some shade in the garden.
There are waterfalls, old castle, caves and secret passages from one garden room to another.
Even those tree roots are incorporated into a display.
An army of ceramic people waited around the corner for newcomers.
Seeing how popular this Rock Garden was, the government issued a postal stamp with the image of the sculptures.
There were articles about the Rock Garden in popular tourist books like Lonely Planet and even Encyclopedia Britannica mentions this place and its founder.
This space is filled with musicians, athletes, men, women, animals and some strange creatures. The self-taught artist had a wild imagination.
Here are horses and dogs, I think.
And of course, the monkeys. I have no doubts about them, as there is a great resemblance.
Life is hard for Indian women.
International display with traditional outfits of different nations.
Athletes ready for competition. Bring it on!
Apart from rubble and industrial waste, Nec used household items. For example these birds were made from concrete, but decorated with broken colourful ladies bangles.
A close up of the peacock. Goodness me, how much work!
This display promotes peer support, as these sculptures lean on each other to stand upright.
I found this particular display very interesting. Every figure had a disability: one leg, one arm or some other defects. It reflected sharply on the Indian society, where lots of invalids struggle to survive and fit in.
Some of the objects are totally mysterious. I could not figure out what that was. I really admire Nec’s determination to create something artistic from a complete waste.
Nec Chand died in June 2015 at the age of ninety. But his legacy will stay here, in Chandigarh for a long time!