Nek Chand, the creator of the Rock Garden, died aged 90 at Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). He breathed his last at 12.11am on Friday.
He is known across the world for creating the iconic Rock Garden that is twenty five acres of several thousand sculptures made of recycled material set in large mosaic courtyards linked by walled paths and deep gorges, combining a series of interlinking waterfalls.
Here are few things that you must know about this artistic wonder and its brilliant creator:
1. The creator belonged to Shakargarh region (now in Pakistan) of Gurdaspur district. Nek Chand and his family settled in Punjab after Partition.
2. It was in the early 1960s that he began to clear a little forest patch near Sukhna Lake to create a small garden. He set stones around the little clearing and then sculpted a few figures from discarded and recyclable materials he found at hand. His creation grew covering several acres and comprising hundreds of sculptures.
3. Nek Chand toiled away secretly in the dead of night for nearly two decades to create his wonderland in north India. Riding his bicycle after dark to a state-owned forest, Nek Chand spent night after night clearing patches of ground and transforming the landscape into a majestic garden.
When his secret was finally discovered in 1975, authorities threatened demolition, claiming he had violated strict land laws. But an amazed public rallied behind him.
Eventually, the decision to give Chand a salary to help him work on his project fulltime, besides a workforce of 50 labourers, was taken..
4. The garden was inaugurated as a public space in 1976, bringing him glory that would last a lifetime and beyond. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1984.
5. The man, who saw beauty and art in what others said was junk, continued to work on the garden even in his last days. Made from recycled materials, Chand built the mass with a cement and sand mix before adding a final coating of smoothly burnished pure cement combined with waste materials such as broken glass, bangles, crockery, mosaic and iron-foundry slag.
The Rock Garden is now acknowledged as one of the modern wonders of the world and receives over 5,000 visitors each day.