Nek Chand… sorry! “Nek Chand JI”, this is how this ‘Golden Man’ deserves to be honored with. A self-taught, extremely creative, yet a very humble legend – Nek Chand Ji is known to be a man of endless qualities. But, the reason which made him rule the hearts of all the Indians and art lovers all-round the globe is his great creation “The Rock Garden” – a man-made sculpture garden, best known as the ‘best out of waste’, a creation that has brought Chandigarh world fame.

Unfortunately, this great man passed away past mid-night at PGIMER, Chandigarh, where he was admitted a day before following complaint of chest pain.

We really felt sad to know that the nation lost such a great personality, but it amazed us and feel proud to know that he died at the age of 90, when he was still WORKING!

This article is just a small way to pay tribute and how our gratitude towards to this legendry soul and his incredible contribution to the nation and society.

Nek Chand- His journey in his own words

“I am not scared of anything. Had I been scared, how would I have worked in the dead of the night in the jungle?” Nek Chand Ji said in a rare interview on the occasion of his 90th birthday on December 15, 2014. It was his hobby that sparked his desire to transform his fantasy into reality and create the incredible Rock Garden.”I started building this garden as a hobby” in the 1950s, Nek Ji said.“I had many ideas, I was thinking all the time. I began carrying all the material on my bicycle and collecting it here,” Nek ji said about his garden of mosaic pathways, hidden chambers and courtyards.
Info credit: Nek Chand as he reveals

Story of ‘living his dreams’

One day in the early 1960s, a humble transport official in Chandigarh began to clear a little patch of jungle to make a small garden area. Riding his bicycle after dark to a state-owned land, Nek Chand Ji spent numerous nights, one after the other, clearing patches of forest land and transforming it into a majestic garden.With no formal education in art or sculpture, Nek Ji drew inspiration from his childhood when he played near a river flowing through his village. Gradually, his inspiration turned into his hobby and fostered innovative ideas in him as he grew.

“I had many ideas, I was thinking all the time. I began carrying all the material on my bicycle and collecting it here,” Nek ji said about his garden of mosaic pathways, hidden chambers and courtyards. “I did three to four rounds on my cycle each day. I saw beauty and art in what people said was junk.”

He set stones around the little clearing and before long had sculpted a few figures recycled from materials he found at hand. He used pottery pieces, tiles, broken bathroom sinks, glass to make figures of men, women, fairies and demons, elephants, and gods.

Gradually Nek Chand’s creation developed and grew and covered several acres and comprised of hundreds of sculptures set in a series of interlinking courtyards. All this he did secretly with the fear of being discovered by the authorities.When the authorities came to know aboutNek ji’s creation, local government officials created chaos and demanded its demolition as the creation was completely illegal.However, the result was the enlightened decision to give Nek Chandji a salary to concentrate full-time on his work, along with a workforce of fifty laborers to help him.

In 1960, he started working upon his idea which came into recognition in 1976. After visiting the place and recognizing its artistic worth, Dr. M.S. Randhawa – an agricultural scientist, gave it the name Rock Garden, which was finally inaugurated on January 24, 1976.
Info credits for contributions: Life History Of Nek Chand Ji
Info credits for history: About Nek Chand Ji

Nek Chand Ji as an ‘INDIVIDUAL’

Besides this great artistic contribution he made for the society, Nek Ji was also respected for the sparkling personality he had. He faced all the ups and down, threats and violation to make his dream alive, still he always remained himself. He was always humble to a fault, completely immersed in his work, andself-effacing. His passion stayed young in his ageing heart and his vision remained untarnished. He used to say that he had immense faith in the God which gave him strength.

Someone once, after meeting him, translated his name as “The Moon of Virtue”. So was his personality.Another loving thing about him was whenever somebody visited the Rock Garden, Nek Chand Ji would greet them, emerging from the little mud hut that he had constructed as a “pad”.

That was typically him – supportive, willing to share, helpful,with no sign of proud.He used to say, “I regard myself neither as an artist, nor as a craftsman …I am completely insignificant”. This proves how generous and down-to-earth he was.

His Glorifying Achievements

For his incredible creation and distinguished service in art, Nek Chand ji has been awarded with the ‘PadmaShri Award’(one of India’s highest civilian awards) in 1984 by the Indian Government. In 1980, he was also honored withthe ‘Grand Medal of Vermeil’ from the city of Paris. Also, in 1983, the garden was pictured on an Indian postage stamp. Nek ji was also commissioned to create gardens elsewhere, particularly the ‘Fantasy Garden at the National Children’s Museum’ in Washington, D.C.His statues have found their way into museums across the world, including at the National Children’s Museum in Washington, the American Folk Art Museum in New York and the RIBA gallery in Liverpool in 2007.

Info Credit: His Achievements

Really, Nek Chand Ji’s work will endure. Let’s salute him for his enormous effort and contributions to our society and pray for his soul to rest in peace!

Images credit: Gallery

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