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Nek Chand Saini, creator of the iconic Rock Garden died on 12 June 2015 at the age of 90. Nek Chand was best known as creator of the iconic Rock Garden Rock which is one of the premier attractions in Chandigarh. The garden was created out of the urban waste materials found in the city. The Padma Shri awardee, he had millions of fans across the globe. He will ever remain alive in the memories of people with his iconic creation which is visited by over 5,000 people daily.
A self-taught Indian artist Nek Chand Saini was born on 15 December 1924 at Barian Kalan, Shankargarh (now in Pakistan). After the partition his family moved to Chandigarh in 1947. He found job as roads inspector for the Public Works Department in 1951. His vision for the garden appeared to emerge when he was a child. To relive his childhood days that once he spent in undivided India he started the construction of the garden. He began his work in secrecy in 1958. It is no coincidence that the early parts of his garden resembled the streets of a Punjabi village. Though secretly built yet the magnificent piece of architecture was soon discovered by the city authorities. As he had not acquired legal permission to build the same so there was every possibility to get it removed from the well planned cityscape of Chandigarh. But thankfully he garnered the support of the residents who admired his skill and so the structure was saved. The garden was officially inaugurated in 1976 under city control. Chand was relieved of his duties as a roads inspector, given a salary to direct the project full time, and was provided with 50 labourers to take it into new realms.
The wonderful creation of Nek Chand faced lot of challenges. First the funds dried up leaving the garden on the mercy of few whole time employees. Then there was plan to construct a road through the garden, only to be halted by popular protest. The worst happened in when he was on a visit to his exhibitions in the US in 1996. Few remaining staff was let off, leaving the garden unattended. This resulted in vandalism. In course of time many sculptures were damaged inviting criticism from all quarters. Eventually with the support of his admirers and fans Nek Chand Foundation came into being. The foundation was entrusted to manage the affairs of the garden with no monetary constraints obstructing its way. In this manner the glory of the garden was restored.
About Rock Garden of Chandigarh
The Rock Garden is one of the signature landmarks of Chandigarh. His park was unique in many ways but the most notable was the use of waste materials from demolition sites around the city. Nek Chand used broken crockery, iron foundry clinker, and similar waste materials discarded by homes and industries to create his wonderland. On the visit to this beautiful place you will come across a complex labyrinth with paths, gateways, steps, beautiful waterfalls, huge courtyards, and porches. The Garden is located near the Sukhna Lake in Sector 1. There is an abundant use of ceramic in the whole area. No trip to Chandigarh is deemed complete without visiting the Rock Garden.
Illness and Death
Nek Chand died on 12 June 2015 at the age of 90 following cardiac arrest. Earlier he was admitted to a private hospital before being shifted to PGIMER where he breathed his last. The Chandigarh Union Territory administration declared a holiday in its offices as a mark of respect to the departed soul. He is survived by his wife, Kamla, son, Anuj, daughter, Neelam, and four grandchildren.
Children: Anuj and Neelam
(FAN OF Shri NEK CHAND SAINI)
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