Tuesday 12 February 2008

Nek Chand: The Rock Garden, Chandigarh

Camel ride at The Rock Garden, Chandigarh
originally uploaded by
Velachery Balu

I don't mean to give the impression that I watch TV all day, but did you see the Indian episode of Around The World in 80 Gardens? I was besotted by Nek Chand's Rock Garden in Chandigarh. The unique garden is a perfect marriage of passion, obsession, recycling, sculpture, gardening and bloody hard work created in secret (and what is better than a secret garden) over decades.

Nek gathered all the waste remnants on his bicycle to bring back and transform in the 25 acre garden on land he didn't even own. The garden was threatened with demolition several times and one of those times was saved by people forming a human shield to stop the bulldozers. A great story, a magical place.

originally uploaded by jratcliffe (a great flickr set of the garden)
also a wider shot with more of the people was taken by Matthew Winterburn.

originally uploaded by Bailoo

These photo's are from flickr, but to see it at it's best you should watch the program because this place is full of movement and life. There are 5 days left to watch online though I now realise some of you are denied access if you live in other countries, not fair. The filming shows best how the areas interlink, how the people connect with the spaces and how stunning the waterfall areas are as they flow. I'd love to spend a whole day there walking the "more than a kilometre of long meandering pathways, full of natural and handmade wonders' with all the birds and animals that are said to fill the garden.

originally uploaded by Iharkness

originally uploaded by krazykrayons

originally uploaded by Chris Walker

originally uploaded by

originally uploaded by Koshyk

originally uploaded by ToreaJade

Update July 2011: I was concerned to see that the Nek Chand website hadn't been updated since I originally wrote this post so I did a check to be sure it hadn't been demolished and happily, it's still going strong. Earth Drifter visited it last month and talks about how the people were as much a part of the experience as the place. I'm so pleased it's still there and going strong. If you'd like to visit
Travel Tips has information on transport.

There is a website called Friends of Rock Garden which has photo's, videos and blogs from people who have volunteered. Here is a link to the Nek Chand Foundation Student and Volunteer program . The website has a lot of backround to the garden and includes a page listing books featuring the garden. As someone who has done a lot of volunteer work I've learned that it doesn't always turn out as you'd expect and I've often had to be very proactive in creating work to do. The same may be true of volunteering at the rock garden. I
read a link from a design student Katie who's 2009 volunteer group left half way through the program because they weren't being given any volunteer work to do. Hopefully the program is more organised now and this isn't an issue, but it's always better to be prepared for things to be different from your expectations so that you can find a way to still make the most of the experience.

And for those of us who may never get to visit the gardens in person here is a link listing places to see Nek Chand's work internationally, which shows he's finally getting the recognition he deserves.


Bibbi said...

How I wish I lived in BBC-land! Rock garden is a place in my dreams, I really want to experience it live. Lucky you, thank you for sharing the photos!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! I've seen photos of this man's work before. It's totally amazing. There's also a man in the favelas in Sao Paolo who's done a similar thing to his house. Actually, come to think of it, I just remembered a man in Africa who painted rocks and boulders in his neighbourhood. Incredibly beautiful. I love this kind of stuff. Thanks for reminding me.

mansuetude said...

Awesome images. & sweet dreams to you Ms. Cally!

mansuetude said...

Awesome images. & sweet dreams to you Ms. Cally!

Ursula Achten said...

Oh my, I'd love to see this!
If you think, that so often gardens are an attempt to rebuild the idea of paradise...

Marjojo said...

Hey Cally, I missed that programme and too tired just now to watch on computer. Gorgeous pix you found. And do you know, my eyes were drawn back to camel's muzzle, crocheted? and with those beautiful coloured clusters of wool. Started working on a strange kind of muzzle-thing last summer, got it out last week but not up to continuing as using very thin wire, needs summer light and summer energy.
Hope you'll be up to enjoying your birthday-trip, walk, drink in crisp air, rays of sun, beautiful countryside.

Catherine Chandler said...

I absolutely love India. THank you for sharing!

paula said...

Amazing!!! Thank you for sharing this nice and really interesting images! I really like to go there and look for my self.

Feltbug said...

Having read your Ashes to Ashes post last week as I watched Monty Don in India the next day I was thinking - oh I do hope Cally is watching this too - wasn't it such a wonderful and inspiring programme - I love the ability of tv to inspire and take us out of our day to day lives. Did you see it tonight about South America too - I love the style of Monty Don's presentation - his enthusiasm is infectious. And your post about your cycle ride was very delightful too :)

Dipti said...

Really stunning pics.. I am thankful to u for sharing such nice pics online.. they are going to help me as a teaching aid for environmental education in class 6.

jyoti said...

I love chandigarh...best place of chandigarh...Good work

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