Remembering Nek Chand

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“He will live on in the Rock Garden”

Nek Chand, the creator of Chandigarh’s famous Rock Garden, died at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research on 12 June following a cardiac arrest. He was 90 years old.
Suffering from diabetes, hypertension and cancer, Nek Chand had been hospitalised for the previous few days.
The Chandigarh administration declared an official holiday in its offices as a mark of respect to the world-acclaimed architectural genius.

Chand’s body was kept in the Rock Garden for people to pay tribute. Survived by wife Kamla Saini, son Anuj and daughter Neelam, he was cremated on the Saturday following his death.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lamented his death on Twitter writing, “Nek Chand-ji will always be remembered for his artistic genius and fabulous creation that is cherished by many. May his soul rest in peace.”\

Politicians, artists and people from other fields also mourned Nek Chand’s death.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar expressed shock and grief and said Nek Chand would be long remembered for his creative contributions. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said Chand would be ever remembered for his masterpiece creation, which was an example of his creativity, aesthetics and hard work. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said the Rock Garden was a masterpiece and was visited by thousands of people.
Assistant media advisor to Punjab government Vineet Joshi said in recognising the contribution of Nek Chand, who was awarded the Grand Medal of Vermeil from Paris in 1980, and conferred the conferred the Padma Shri award 1984, in giving Chandigarh its identity, the Chandigarh International Airport should be named after him.

Saluting Chand, noted writer-cum-journalist Nirupama Dutt described Rock Garden as an “unplanned creative outburst against the very planned and regimented city of Chandigarh”.
The most exhibited Indian artist ever, with his creations being part of leading cities like Paris, London, New York, Washington and Berlin, Nek Chand also had numerous books in different languages written about him. He had also been offered honorary citizenship in various countries.
Born on December 15, 1924, and brought up in a village in Gurdaspur under Shakargarh tehsil (now in Pakistan), he migrated to Chandigarh in 1947.
He was a road inspector in a construction project in Chandigarh in the 1950s and 1960s when the “City Beautiful”, was being designed by French architect Le Corbusier.

Nek Chand, whose fantasy garden was pictured on an Indian postage stamp in 1983, developed the art of creating figures from waste material discarded by people and secretly set up his laboratory in a forested area in north Chandigarh.
Waste material like broken bangles, cutlery, chinaware, electrical fittings like switches, plugs and tube lights, marbles, tiles, household junk, stones, building material waste and other things have found their way into art creations by him.
It was only in the mid-1970s that Nek Chand’s art was recognised and the Rock Garden came into being. It was officially inaugurated in October 1976.

The Rock Garden, located on a sprawling 35-acre campus, can be best described as a “kingdom” which depicts the life and ecology of India, comprising features of both rural and urban settings.
Nek Chand’s son Anuj Saini lit the pyre at the cremation ground on 13 June in the presence of hundreds of mourners.
“He will live on in the Rock Garden,” one of his admirers remarked.

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