Rock Garden, Chandigarh- From childhood days different artforms always enchanted me. I used to wonder how artists are able to think so differently and create surreal creations which everyone loves to see. Everyone around is an artist in one or another way.
Only a few took the courage to follow their passion to create something extraordinary which now the whole world praises, one such artist was our beloved NEK CHAND.
ROCK GARDEN CHANDIGARH
Who is Nek Chand? I would say a humble road inspector who pursued his dream and dared to think out of the box. I would explain about him in a later section as he is the core of this place. Which Place? Today this vagabond halted journey here at a small wonder lying on another end of CHANDIGARH. Let start!
DAY TRIP TO ROCK GARDEN
I was planning to go on a road trip to Manali with my other friends and visit places where I never went before. My friends not being Chandigarhians wanted to stop over at Rock Garden of Chandigarh before embarking the journey to know what this place holds.
We all reached the place by 9:30 am and got entry tickets worth Rs 20 each. Earlier we all were feeling uncertain as to it is worth visiting or not. But believe me, the moment we all entered and saw what was in front of us made us all feel numinous at once. Indeed, I was gently scolding myself why I haven’t come here before. Not precisely a GARDEN but a display of the level up to which a human mind can think.
Nek Chand has put his heart and soul into every single thing present here, and he did it all single-handedly. Let’s know:
WHO WAS NEK CHAND
In short, Nek Chand’s Rock Garden spread on about 40 acres of land where there is nothing out of the ordinary; a secret that came out in its full bloom in the year 1975. His efforts are commendable and the way his art was appreciated back then when the garden was on the urge of demolition, has created history for generations to come and cherish the resonance of nature that the Rock Garden has, to offer.
Nek Chand Saini in a Nutshell: Born on 15th December 1924 in Barian Kalan village of Gurdaspur District. Then in 1947, India was passing through a tough phase of partition and independence. Now the place where he was born falls in Pakistan. He along with his family shifted to Chandigarh and settled here like many others.
This was also the time when the Chandigarh city was being planned by the French Architect Le Corbusier. It was believed that from a very early age Nek Chand was keen on experimenting and creating pieces of art. His creativity had been unique that one can thoroughly assess from his masterpiece, The Rock Garden.
ROCK GARDEN’S GLORIOUS STORY
Nek Chand was appointed as a Road Inspector in the Public Works Department in the year 1951. Nek Chand started his works of wonder in the year 1957, at a site called Sukrani, a natural gorge near to Sukhna Lake. This site was under the Government buffer zone radar which means that any construction or use of land is strictly forbidden.
Despite the fact, it did not stop him from turning his dream to reality. Slowly and steadily, he started this illicit affair! It seemed that there is no boundary for what he wanted to set the place into. Anything that he could fetch, he turned into art. He was a self-taught artist, one who sees and witnesses the art themselves can tell that very well.
In his free time, he would come to the site with different kinds of recyclable items that he would use to place wherever he found fit. Initially, there was no plan, no phase to follow and he started putting objects randomly.
ROCK GARDEN CHALLENGING JOURNEY
As we know, he was creating his wonder on land where the construction or any activity is restricted, so his journey was no smooth.
Building this place could have turned out great predicament for Nek Chand the way he was hiding his illicit affair and was successful in doing so for 18 long years until finally, it caught the eye of the Forest authorities.
A terrible situation that one might think for carrying out illegal practices turned out to be a boon for Nek Chand.
Though initially the Chandigarh Administration was against and wanted to demolish the work as it was under the forest buffer zone but he with the support of public and art enthusiasts was able to save his dreamland.
THE TURNING POINT
M.S. Randhawa; who was the then Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh was working in close connection with Le’ Corbusier during those days, personally visited the garden and presented it on June 23, 1973, before the Chandigarh Landscape Advisory Committee, as a supporter of the works of Nek Chand. Randhawa efforts were successful, and it was then that the place got its name “The Rock Garden” believed to be kept by M.S. Randhawa himself.
He was not only appreciated but also given a salary and a title of Sub-Divisional Engineer. Fortunately, Nek Chand got 50 laborers more to carry out the work and make it greater.
One thing that could not be negated and caught hold of everyone’s eye was that how just one person, single-handedly was able to create “a paradise on earth” the way Nek Chand did.
AND THE INAUGURATION DAY
The place was officially opened for people to see in the year 1988 on July 7 by Siddhartha Shankar Ray; the then Governor of Punjab and Administrator Chandigarh. As the place started to take shape, it evolved into three major phases.
Now I have given you enough deep insight into his early life, how he started, how this garden came into being and what all problems he faced while doing so.
I always emphasized on HISTORY that’s because it’s good to know the rich history of the place before exploring it. This way you can relate things with each other. It also serves as a tribute to the person behind it.
ROCK GARDEN WALK-THROUGH
Allow me now to take you through all the three phases. Every phase contains something different than another. Starting from Phase 1 of the Chandigarh’s garden.
From here basically, he began manifesting his dream. He was a talented and keen artist who knew maybe someday his work will be recognized and exhibited for the public to enjoy the charm.
I realized all the sculptures are placed in elevated areas to preserve them from any destruction and still be made available for people to see.
How smart and a far-sighted man he was.
Here, you would see gardens, theaters, pathways lined up with walls on each side giving a spooky feel at times and about 5000 pottery cum concrete sculptures are placed in this area where some have been adorned with real human hair that he collected from nearby barber shops.
His vision, creativity, and zeal for art had no limits.
Don’t forget to get yourself clicked with these miniatures and beautiful sculptures to take back some memories along as we did.
The moment we stepped in here, I felt as if we entered into some small traditional Indian village. It’s the replica of the same where little elements were representing huts, temples, pathways, etc. had been beautifully carved.
Let us know what I saw here – It has human-made waterfalls simultaneously placed near to each other which gives an enthralling effect. Miniature temples and huts surrounded by the forest and vegetation, which is a natural habitat of birds add to the glory even more.
The place is so captivating that one feels as if one has entered a real village town, if someday you also went, I assure you would feel the same. Everything is marvelously placed and crafted where shops, courtyards, narrow village roads, etc. forms a natural element of the park itself.
This part is believed to be inspired by the Roman architecture of the arch, i.e., the Roman aqueducts; this place is lined with them where swings are hanging for people to enjoy the beauty even more. It can hold up to quite many people at one time and is powerfully built. This is not all, in Phase 3 you will see aquariums, large pillars lined up in series and an open amphitheater apart from the sculptures made from soft rugs.
ART & ABSTRACT OF ROCK GARDEN
The abstract was his genre and waste were his tool, Nek Chand left no stone unturned! He used almost every industrial and home waste that he could get or collect. From broken pieces of pottery, ceramics, plates to old oil drums, metals and rods, concrete and stones, nets, jute and more.
He even used “human hair” and sewed them on to the heads of his concrete man sculptures. Today there exists a preservation center by Chandigarh Society where one can drop the recyclable items that can be used to create objects and sculptures to keep the ever-growing project of The Rock Garden lively to adorn the place even more.
Once you get into the Rock Garden Chandigarh, you will be enchanted by the feel, flabbergasted by the art and awe-struck by the emotions which Nek Chand tried to depict from his medium of using recyclable items creating marvelous sculptures, walls and more.
ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO
At first, it seems that the place is relatively small, but the minute you saunter further, you can’t escape yourself from getting awed by its architecture and structure. Big sculptures, beautiful waterfalls, display of traditional Indian village, fish aquarium, etc., it has got myriad of things to see like:
#1 Waterfalls: To see water falling down the pavements of the tiny huts of a surreal village created by Nek Chand is soothing to the eyes and ears. People get their pictures clicked, children enjoy the scenery, and the ambiance is inspiring for any writer or an artist to visit and map their vision on a piece of paper. We also clicked some candid shots here which I added here. It touches the heart of everyone so profoundly.
#2 Aquariums: Phase 3 of the Rock Garden is where you can enjoy the aquarium and can get a glimpse of fishes wandering around. It captures the attention of everyone who comes here.
#3 Amphitheater: The Rock Garden, over the years has become a center of performances for art and theatre. Folk Dances, plays and more are organized at the site. If you are lucky enough maybe by the time you visit, there will be some cultural program going on for your amusement. Keep your fingers crossed! We all friends went when there was no event scheduled, better luck next time.
#4 Open air theatre: An open seating ground with stairs around for all the nomads who come here with LCD in front which portrays the life of Nek Chand. Its primary purpose is to let everyone know about the man behind this garden.
#5 Laughing Mirror Display: Don’t confuse it with “Mirror is laughing.” It’s a long series of 10-11 mirrors, and when you stand in front of each one of them, you get to see a different distorted shape that ultimately urges you to smile. You won’t believe, I passed through that lane 2-3 times to feel the enthralling experience a few more times.
#6 Camel and Train ride: Yehaaa, you heard right. It’s the last thing we did here. Hopped on the camel hunk to get a ride and felt high in the sky. There is also a small train to have a ride on it to feed your childish side.
#7 Teej Festival: I came to know, a festival dedicated to women called TEEJ or TIYAN is celebrated with whole pride in Punjab. Every year at Rock Garden, Teej is celebrated with full zeal and zest. Women dress up in traditional Punjabi attire, with henna on their hand, vibrant bangles and jewelry, Punjabi Salwar Kameez with yellow, green and red colors to be favorite during these days. Cultural dance and music program is also organized which all love to attend.
#8 Doorways, paths, and alleys: The whole garden is spread on 40 acres of land. It is divided into three phases each leading to one another through passages, paths, and alleys that are a work of art in itself.
One can mosey between the lanes and enjoy the feel. The walls are covered with broken plates and ceramics of all sorts making it look even more beautiful. The paths are narrow and wide leading one to the revelation of this uncanny yet scintillating small human made heaven.
BEST SEASON TO VISIT THE ROCK GARDEN
The best time to visit Rock Garden of Chandigarh is during the MONSOON season that is from August to November. As during this period, the weather is moderate that is neither too cold or hot.
I would suggest you to also mark the TEEJ festival on your calendar, so you better not miss it next time and get to know the rich history of northern India.
That’s how our stroll through the mind-blowing garden ended. It took us nearly 4 hours to feel the ebullience this place offered us.
NEK CHAND DEMISE
A beautiful soul left the world!
Nek Chand left this world on 12th June 2015 leaving behind Rock Garden Chandigarh where each sculpture, artificial waterfall, amphitheater and other beautiful items he carved out of waste stand mute paying homage to this creative genius.
Rose Garden Chandigarh Address – Uttar Marg, Sector No. 1, Chandigarh.
Contact number – +91 172 740 645
Open – Daily
Timings – 9 am to 7:30 pm (1st April to 30th September)
9 am to 6 pm (1st October to 31st March)
Entry Fee – Rs 20 for Adults and Rs 10 for Children.
Time Needed – 3 to 4 hours to enjoy well.
Distance from Delhi – 243 Km
ANOTHER MUST VISIT
Chandigarh rightfully deserves the title of ” THE CITY BEAUTIFUL“. Unparalleled living standards, well-planned architecture, lush green surroundings, theme parks, proper traffic regulation and some good places to visit. One such and very close to rock garden is rose garden Chandigarh, 5 Km and 10 min apart from each other if you go by car.
REACH ROCK GARDEN CHANDIGARH
Depending upon your location, one can choose bus, cab, train or flight. The place is easy to locate, and you won’t find a problem reaching.
For those coming from any other far state, you can choose flight option, and from the Chandigarh Airport, you can book a cab which will take you straight to the Rock Garden of Chandigarh.
Also, those who are looking for accommodations nearby, there will not be a problem either, your cab driver can quickly guide you through or you can always pre-plan a trip or book room immediately from online services available.
ROCK GARDEN VISITORS COUNT
To your surprise, let me tell nearly 5000 people to visit the Nek Chand Rock Garden Chandigarh on a daily basis. I would love to say that this place must be on top of the list of the person who is traveling to Chandigarh or thinking to do so.
After some binge eating, we embarked our journey to our actual destination, and here we come MANALI to explore what you have got for us.
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P.S the article was first written by our ex content writer Jasmit Kaur, is now updated with editor Team as per our Policy.