Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Garden Wonders of the World! Nek Chand's Rock Garden, Chandigarh

The Rock Garden spreads over 30 acres in Chandigarh and is a combination of architecture, plants and sculpture
In all my garden travels, I have never before seen a garden like Nek Chand's Rock Garden in the visionary city of Chandigarh, north of Delhi in India. I was lucky enough to spend several days there and to meet the creator of this extraordinary Garden Wonder of the World. It's an amazing combination of architectural and artistic talent, but is the work of a single man, who worked for several years without anybody being aware of his endeavours. 
Shri Nek Chand, creator of the Rock Garden
The story behind the Rock Garden is so unusual that it will take me several weeks to walk readers through this wonderland, and as our gardens in the western hemisphere take on spectral winter forms, I shall feature both the gardens and the sculptures that Nek Chand has created out of recycled rubbish. It is an incredible story and I hope you'll enjoy it! But words alone cannot do this tale justice, so much will be told by the pictures you see.
Throughout the garden there are thousands of figures sculpted from recycled rubbish
The city of Chandigarh was designed by the Swiss architect, Le Corbusier and is the capital of the north-western provincial state of Punjab in India. Nek Chand arrived here after partition in 1947. He is the first to admit that he still misses village life as it was prior to all the political changes in India, and says: "The memory of those times still haunt me. The trauma of partition shattered me and I could not recoup my equilibrium and zest for life until I was able to create this garden".
A collection of figures created from recycled sanitary ware
Nek Chand was born on the 15 December 1924; was educated in India; and had no formal education beyond High School. He worked for many years as a road inspector and during his travels he collected rocks and discarded industrial and domestic rubbish. He began work on his vision back in the 1960's, although nobody discovered the secret garden for more than two decades. Then came the question of what to do with the magical hidden world he had created in the northern corner of Le Corbusier's city - on public land - and without official sanction!   
There are more than 20,000 individual figures in the Rock Garden - both people and animals
The garden he has created here demonstrates his incredible abilities as both architect and landscaper, sculptor extraordinaire, and visionary artist. Fortunately the authorities recognised the importance of what Chand had done, so the Rock Garden is here to stay. It now attracts millions of visitors and has become one of India's great tourist attractions. I'll walk you further through the gardens in the next few weeks, because I need time to sort my photographs and collect my thoughts about what I saw in Chandigarh. I have never yet seen any garden or creation like this anywhere in the world. But I shudder to think what would have happened if the authorities had trashed Nek Chand's work on discovery! 

Charlotte Weychan

13 comments:

  1. Such a cool place indeed. I hope you got to explore the rest of Chandigarh as well. Apart from the fascinating modernist architecture and planning, the many neighborhood parks and countless private gardens are lush and lovely...

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  2. What a fascinating sculpture garden! I hope others will follow his example of using rubbish to create beauty...absolutely beautiful!!!

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  3. In spirit this has much in common with the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda, created by Helen Martins and Koos Malgas. Also concrete, but she was fascinated by finely ground glass.

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  4. I was fascinated when we visited this garden - I really look forward to seeing your pictures of it. Thanks!

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  5. Amazing! I haven't seen anything like it, and I will look forward to your future posts. He is a talented and industrious individual!

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  6. Amazing. I look forward to the whole story.

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  7. Absolutely stunning space. Amazing that no-one (officially) noticed all these statues and sculptures springing up in on public land and what an extraordinary vision that man had! Definitely one for my bucket list. (Looking forward to future instalments about your visit.)

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  8. It's a virtue, I think, to be artful when no one is watching.

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  9. What an extraordinary garden from the elegance of the architecture in the first photo to the quirkiness of the recycled figures. What a talented man. I couldn't see him being allowed to do that here with all the planning regulations...

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  10. What an amazing place! A true labour of love. I think his sculptures are fantastic - they have such character. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Janet said, "I couldn't see him being allowed to do that here with all the planning regulations." That is true. Are there any bureaucrats shuffling papers and munching snacks who would like to leave their desks for art? I'd like for us to hear from them.

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  12. This took my breath away, it's fantastic. Just wonderful. Thanks,
    yvonne

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  13. Wow, an amazing place with a fascinating story! I can't wait to see more. I am glad that the city officials saw the value of his art and let him continue!

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