The Punjab governor and Chandigarh administrator
I was closely associated with Nek Chand and have been deeply involved with the Rock Garden he built throughout the years of its existence since 1972. I was also the convener of ANCROG (Admirers of Nek Chand’s Rock Garden), a group of citizens of Chandigarh who took up the artist’s cause with the authorities and eased the hurdles he faced.
We have lost an original artist who had few peers. His death has raised anxiety among art lovers about the future of the Rock Garden. Having been in close touch with Nek Chand, I’ve been privy to his hopes and desires. He wanted his “gift” to Chandigarh to be preserved in its original form, without any “improvements” or changes, however wellintentioned. Towards this end he personally trained his only son, Anuj, on the proper techniques of repairing, restoring, preserving and maintaining the structures and spaces in the garden.
Anuj, now 45 and an artist in his own right, was a great asset to him in his sunset years. Having been an understudy for most of his life, he was closely involved in maintaining the garden. He has the huge advantage of having grown up with the Rock Garden and being familiar with its every aspect and was privy to Nek Chand’s plans on completing the project.
It was Nek Chand’s ardent desire, which he had shared with me and also expressed in writing to the UT administration that his son may be given the responsibility of looking after the garden in the interest of continuity. It is. Hence, requested Anuj Saini may be appointed to a suitable position to supervise the Rose Garden.
The Chandigarh administration should also consider recommending Nek Chand, who was conferred the Padma Shri way back in 1984, for the highest civilian award. Last but not least, the administration should officially name the unique garden as ‘Nek Chand’s Rock Garden’ as the two are inextricably linked.
Rupan Deol Bajaj, IAS (retd)
Former Punjab financial commissioner (revenue) and information commissioner