Look carefully at these pictures. They are all made from recycled materials collected from the remnants of villages destroyed during the creation of Chandigarh.
The garden houses sculptures made by using a variety of different discarded waste materials like frames, mudguards, forks, handle bars, metal wires, play marbles, porcelain, auto parts, broken bangles etc.
In 1958, Nek Chand Saini, a roads inspector at the Public Works Department in Chandigarh began to clear a patch of jungle to make a small garden. He built a small hut, placed stones around the entrance and sculpted few figures from materials he found. One of his official duties was to supervise the city dump, which became a major source of raw material for him. It is important to note that nearly 25 villages were demolished and their rubble deposited there to make way for the city of Chandigarh.
While Chandigarh developed, in tandem, Nek Chand started building on a piece of unused, unwanted waste ground. This secret ‘building’ involved the creation of sculptures made from used mosaic, waste pottery, stones and broken glass, all transported to the site by Nek Chand on his bicycle. Whatever his sources, he laboured alone and in isolation until discovered by accident by the authorities in 1975. The space he selected was a gorge in the forest on the outskirts of the city of Chandigarh. This area had been designated by the city as a land conservancy, a green space that would separate the city itself from its government buildings. Building anything on this land was strictly forbidden. Disregarding risks of imprisonment and the garden’s destruction, Chand worked diligently—and secretly—for 18 years.
Working without plans or preliminary drawings, the vibrant pieces of sculpture and landscaping were all done by hand in Nek Chand’s spare time. Gradually his garden expanded to the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, now comprising more than 25 acres of sculptures, buildings, arcades, gorges and waterfalls.
Mr. Nek Chand created a fascinating world of sculptures and art objects, fashioned from the stones as well as industrial and urban waste, including broken chinaware, discarded fluorescent tubes, broken and cast away glass bangles, building waste, coal and clay etc.
It is a monumental tribute to a single vision, to a tenacious creativity, and the indomitable spirit of Mr. Nek Chand. Today the rock garden enjoys 5,000 visitors a day and has workshops to produce and maintain the myriad of sculptures that inhabit the site, open as it is to the elements.
Nek Chand also has collaborated to create a rock garden in Kerala.
To read more, visit www.nekchand.com