Chandigarh has the distinction of having a unique world-acclaimed Rock Garden. It consists of art objects, fashioned from industrial and urban waste. It is situated between the Capitol Complex and Sukhna Lake in Sector 1. It nestles amidst 20 acres of woods in the form of an open air exhibition hall, theatre trove and a miniature maze all rolled into one vast fantasy land of art and landscape. It is without doubt, a tourist spot that is a must on the itinerary of every visitor to Chandigarh.
Since the site where Rock Garden stands today was also used as a dumping ground for urban and industrial waste, Nek Chand picked up pieces of foundry lime-kiln and metal workshop wastes and also shaped them with his creative genius, resembling human, animal or abstract forms. These pieces have been innovatively displayed as sculptures in the garden.
Also, on display are shapes sculptured by using a variety of discarded materials such as frames, mudguards, forks, handle bars, metal wires, play marbles, crowns of soft drink bottles, porcelain, auto parts, broken bangles, pieces of slate, burnt bricks and even human hair recovered from barbers' shop.
Nek Chand salvaged a variety of debris from demolished structures, waste from lime kilns, discarded street lights, electrical fittings, broken sanitary ware, crockery etc. thus demonstrating how urban and industrial waste can be fruitfully recycled and used in creative pursuit.
In the true spirit of a make-believe `kingdom’ the Rock Garden has fourteen different chambers, like the forecourt : housing natural rock-forms, a royal poet’s and a musician’s chamber complete with a pond and a hut; the main court (Durbar) where the king’s throne adorns the place with natural stone forms depicting gods and goddesses lining the place; a swimming pool for the queen, etc. Another phase of the garden comprises the grand palace complex, minars, water falls, an open air theatre, a village, mountains, over bridges, pavilions and areas for royal pleasures. The tree and root sculpture offers a powerful counterpoint to the existing vegetation.
An open air theatre and a vast pavilion with a centre stage are the other highlights of the Rock Garden where art and culture blend amidst the rustic and exotic environs of the garden.
The Teej Festival, when the Rock Garden assumes a festive look, holds a special attraction for tourists …. Young damsels partake in the fun and frolic by swaying on the giant swings, while others adorn their hands with traditional Mehandi (henna), amidst joyful songs and dances.
As you stroll through the Rock Garden, enjoying the awe inspiring creation, you may find yourself face to face with the unassuming, down to earth artist Nek Chand himself, in flesh and blood, working at or supervising his 'kingdom'.