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 menakanayyar
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.