Publication: The Tribune
Nek Chand, Padma Shri awardee, inspired people not only with his creative streak but also simplicity and humility. Those closely associated with him remember the man who gave Chandigarh its unique landmark, the Rock Garden
Nek Chand proved that anything that’s there in the world could be put to good use… is one of the comments in the Visitor’s Book that’s bears the testimony of the thousands who are moved by the modern marvel called the Rock Garden. The man began small, creating his sculptures in his spare time out of the things that lay waste. Working diligently, over the years, his dream took shape of the Rock Garden brought him international fame.
As we have lost the artiste who gave Chandigarh its most popular landmark, those who have had the chance to be up, close and personal, remember the man who with his magic turned discarded stuff to a fancy dreamland!
Epitome of humility
The Rock Garden, a chaotic but endearing island in the midst of rigid geometry is now not only an integral part of Corbusier’s city but an icon of it. Not everything works in respect of form or design on this island, but most of it does brilliantly. All the accolades and honours notwithstanding, however, it has not been smooth for Nek Chand Ji. He had faced more than his share of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. But– and this is the measure of the man–he always remained himself—humble to a fault, self-effacing, dedicated, completely immersed in his work, whether thinking or working. — BN Goswamy, art historian
Pillar of Chandigarh
Chandigarh would always be known by two people — Le Corbusier and Nek Chand. While Corbusier was trained in architecture, Nek Chand worked totally based on his intuition. While the first represented modernity, the other derived hugely from the folk and tribal tradition. These two counterpoints make Chandigarh what it is today. Nek Chand would come across as someone very simple. Even when invited as a chief guest he would show up at the event on his bicycle or get into his Tata truck with the driver. In this humble persona lay a very intelligent man. He could negotiate well with anyone. — Diwan Manna, artist
He has inspired so much admiration because his achievement is unique in the world. As a man, as a creator, as a giant figure in the life of Chandigarh, we will not see a man like him again. We have been deeply privileged to know Nek Chand and to be able to share some precious moments with him. Just to walk around his extraordinary creation is a moving experience in itself. — John Maizels, founding trustee, Nek Chand Foundation, London UK
I consider the Rock Garden to be synonymous with Chandigarh. It’s been City Beautiful’s unique identity. Whosoever ever visited Chandigarh, couldn’t afford to skip this attraction. He may have left us, but his legacy will live on in the hearts of every resident of Chandigarh, and of people across India. — Kirron Kher, Member of Parliament, actor
The Hindustani touch
My association with Nek Chand dates back to 1964. I still remember the first time I saw his collection he had housed in a hut. What’s remarkable is that his creation gave Chandigarh that’s largely a western, urban, planned city a great Hindustani touch. Look at his sculptures, landscaping; he even had studios for artistes — every single thing is planned. I guess, he is the only Indian artiste who was appreciated in India and abroad. — Kamal Tiwari, actor
A special connect
I have known Nek Chand right from my university days and admired him not only for his creativity but simplicity too. When the work on Phase 3 started; there were bulldozers to stop it. That time we gathered and made a human chain. Our bond was made special as staged all our plays there. — Gick Grewal, theater person