|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!