Creator of Chandigarh’s Rock Garden happy about its popularity

November 14th, 2007 - 2:26 am ICT by admin  
Chandigarh, Oct 18 (ANI): Nek Chand, the man credited with putting Chandigarh on the international map through his Rock Garden, is glad that his creation from the city waste fascinates crowds from across the world.

Over 25 acres several thousand sculptures, made of industrial waste and thrown-away items, are set in large mosaic courtyards linked by walled paths and deep gorges. Nek Chand’s creation also combines huge buildings with a series of interlinking waterfalls.

“I am not conscious that I have reached such heights. The only thing that makes me glad is that visitors come in large numbers to see the Rock Garden created by me from waste material. People also feel happy to see that the waste which has been thrown away has been shaped so wonderfully,” says Chand.

The Rock Garden attracts artists and connoisseurs from all over the world.

Chand’s family moved to Chandigarh in 1947, during India-Pakistan Partition. At the time, the city was being redesigned as a modern utopia by the Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier.

It was to be the first planned city in India, and Chand found work there as a roads inspector for the Public Works Department in 1951.

Chand, a self-taught artist, in his spare time, began collecting materials from demolition sites around the city.

“When I was employed with the Public Works Department, Chandigarh, I used to roam all over. I usually found waste material lying on the roads and thought I would collect all and create something out of it. To start with I collected glass bangles and created the few images that impressed me a lot. I then continued creating more images,” says Chand.

Chand attended his office during the day and worked in the park by the evenings.

“It was a jungle then, with snakes roaming around, but I continued my work. In the late evenings, light was required, so I used to collect used cycle tyres and set them on fire to work by its light,” says Chand.

Chand was able to hide his creation for 18 years before it was discovered by the authorities in 1975.

By this time, it had grown into a 12-acre complex of interlinked courtyards, each filled with hundreds of pottery-covered concrete sculptures of dancers, musicians, and animals.

His work was in serious danger of being demolished, but he was able to get public opinion on his side, and in 1976, the park was inaugurated as a public space.

“My work drew the attention of the government and it took over the place. It was opened to the public in 1976,” says Chand.

Chand was given a salary, a title “Sub-Divisional Engineer, Rock Garden”, and a workforce of 50 labourers so that he could concentrate full-time on his work.

For his unique work, Chand has received numerous awards, including the Padam Shree in 1983. He has also been honoured with the honorary citizenship of the United States and Paris.

At 82, Chand remains dedicated to his Rock Garden.

He says: “I have had no desires in the past. Even now, I am only dedicated to my work. After working the whole day in the garden I return home in the evenings.”

The Rock Garden is now acknowledged as one of the modern wonders of the world. Over 5000 people visit this creation each day.

It even appeared on an Indian stamp in 1983.

The Rock Garden is still made out of recycled materials; and with the government’s help, Chand was able to set up collection centers around the city for waste, especially rags and broken ceramics.

Chand’s statues have found their way into museums across the world, including at the Capitol Children’s Museum in Washington, and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin, USA owns the largest collection of Chand’s work outside Chandigarh. (ANI)

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