These days there is a lot of buzz around re-use and recycle to manage our waste and Save the Planet. Nearly 60 years ago in 1957 a young goverment employee Nek Chand had started this endeavor in Chandigarh to create from waste which over the years transformed into the famous Rock Garden.
Thanks to the slow traffic on the way from Shimla to Chandigarh, I had very less time to see around Chandigarh. With barely 3 hours in hand in the morning, I set out for the Rock Garden from my hotel in Sector 8C. The least I was expecting was to haggle with an auto driver for the 3 km journey before an Uber came to my rescue !! The tree lined roads were wide, criss crossing in regular intervals to define the self contained sectors. vehicles moved about with a certain discipline and barely any one honked. An Indian city thriving without chaos is a rare sight. Le Corbusier and his team of architects in India seemed to have truly given shape to Pandit Nehru’s dream of Indian cities; sad that we could not replicate it all over. The French connection still exists on some of the boards within the park.
Nek Chand would quietly collect waste from different sites and give them a new life by turning them into dolls, animals, dancers, musicians and other figurines. His work was discovered in 1975; literally 18 years after he had first started in a gorge next to the lake. Residents stood by him when it was facing demolition since it was created without approval until the government relented.
Walking through the garden, the waterfalls and the winding passages, I felt I was in a fort; which stood out in the midst of a modern grid patterned Chandigarh city.
The figurines made from waste sanitary ware and ceramics, the walls made from old terracotta pots;
the dancers and musicians prettied up in colorful glass bangles and the jolly animals from stone pieces welcomed visitors into their world.
While school children monkeyed around jumping from wall to wall or clicking that selfie under the waterfall, it was a morning well spent.
I read somewhere in the park that Nek Chand was perhaps attempting to recreate his childhood home which was lost during partition or he was defining the universe bringing together the creatures and elements of nature as a symbol of unity.
I did stop by at the cafe for a snack which in my opinion was grossly over priced but then life’s little pleasures enjoyed under a tree or on a swing cannot be measured in money.
Opens between 9am and 5pm. Tickets priced at Rs 30/- (2016) Located next to Sukhna Lake in Sector 5. Avail the hop on hop off bus in Chandigarh which seem to be ideal for tourists in the city.