The creator of Rock Garden, Nek Chand Saini, was cremated with full state honours at the Sector-25 crematorium here on Saturday evening.
A large number of people from a cross-section of society attended the funeral rites. The mortal remains were brought to the crematorium in an open van from Rock Garden, with a large convoy guided by Chandigarh police vehicles in tow.
His last journey from the garden started at 4 pm and after traversing through sectors 8-9, 21-22, 23 and 24 reached the cremation ground at about 5:25 pm. Throughout the route, the traffic was halted to make way for the convoy comprising over 50 vehicles.
Residents were seen standing on roadsides to pay respects to the artist. Traders of Sectors 22 and 23 markets paid floral tributes to the departed soul and convoy was halted for a few minutes. A few Nek Chand admirers were also seen holding placards - "Nek Chand Amar Rahe". The convoy took about 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the crematorium from Rock Garden.
As the convoy reached Sector 25, the Chandigarh police gave a salute to the departed soul. The funeral ceremony was attended by a large number of people, who had gathered before the mortal remains reached there. The mortal remains were kept for about 10 minutes for final darshan at the cremation ground.
Body consigned to flames at 5.55 pm
Nek Chand's son Anuj Saini lit the pyre at 5:55 pm as Chandigarh police jawans gave a gun salute amid chants of "Nek Chand Amar Rahe" from the gathering. The family members and relatives of Nek Chand were seen consoling each other.
The funeral was attended by a large number of people from the world of art, education, bureaucracy and politics. Chandigarh SSP Sukhchain Singh, additional deputy commissioner TPS Phulka, among others, were representatives on behalf of the administration. Opinder Singh Lamba, press secretary to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, laid the wreath on CM's behalf.
Others who attended the funeral were local Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra, city mayor Poonam Sharma, former mayor Harjinder Kaur and several councillors of the municipal corporation, Chandigarh.
Former advisor to the UT administrator KK Sharma, who had specially come from Delhi, said Nek Chand's work would keep inspiring the generations to come for a long time. "He was a noble hearted person and I shared a very personal bond with him," he said.
Body kept at Rock Garden till 4pm
Earlier, Nek Chand's last visit to his famed creation Rock Garden started about 9.30am from his house in Sector 27 and took the same route that the artist used to take during his lifetime.
The body was brought home from the PGIMER in an air-conditioned glass casket at about 8am. The cavalcade led by a van carrying the body started from his passed through Sectors 19 and 27 light point, Sectors 7 and 8 markets, before taking a turn from near the gurdawara to Rock Garden. His wife Kamla Saini, son Anuj Saini, daughter-in-law Archana, daughter Neelam and grandchildren were present, along with select relatives.
Throughout the journey route people took pictures and videos as they bowed their heads in respect. Priests from a temple and a gurdwara in Sector 8 paid their last tributes to the departed soul. The labourers at the garden received their master with folded hands.
At Rock Garden, the body was placed on a platform outside Nek Chand's office for public to pay their last respects. A group of Brahma Kumaris, workers of the garden were the first ones to pay tributes. A bust of Nek Chand was also placed near the body. The body had to be shifted under a shed due to rain at about 12.15pm.
Punjab governor and UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki paid floral tributes to the master creator. In the visitor's book, Solanki wrote that "Chandigarh is known by Rock Garden and Rock Garden is known by Nek Chand". In the afternoon, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar also paid his last respects to the departed soul.
Creations in tow of the master
To make the last journey memorable, the Chandigarh administration had made a special tableau carrying some of Nek Chand's sculptures. The tableau followed the van carrying the body throughout the route.
Nek Chand -- 1924-2015: He gave Chandigarh its spirit
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