You must see the rock garden in Chandigarh. An imaginary kingdom of the Gods made by Nek Chand Saini. He has created an entire city with the king’s darbar(courthouse), the queen’s resting place, their bathing quarters, the city well, the workers, the soldiers, the villagers(the king’s subjects), ladies from the royal family, the animals and the list goes on.

The reason why this place is so extraordinary, so creatively mind-blowing is that the entire kingdom is made with waste products. From broken bangles to chipped saucers, damaged sockets to cycle seats, rubble from a coal mine to leftover tiles….there was nothing that went waste in Nek Chands world. He would go scourging to demolition sites t get materials that he could recycle.

Working as a PWD Govt officer in Chandigarh, a job bereft of internal satisfaction for him, Nek Chand would lose himself in the world of imagination and creativity. In his spare time, he would use waste materials to sculpt figurines. Back in 1957, he used an empty space just outside the city, near the Sukhna lake to house his creations. In 1975, the authorities sent him a notice for illegal possession of the land which now had grown to about 12 acres with his installations. They were going to evacuate him till they saw what he was doing. It was then that he received a grant and permission to create his masterpiece, the kingdom of Sukhna. The Kingdom was declared as a public space and Neki Chand was designated the engineer of the Rock Garden and was also given 50 workers to help him complete his kingdom.

Today the Rock Garden has waterfalls, courtyards and is designed over 30 to 40acres. It also houses an amphitheater where artists promote their creative talent. Kept implicitly clean, the unusual Kingdom of Sukhna is a huge tourist draw and garners a crowd of almost 5000 people every day. At a meager entry of Rs 30, it is a wonderful experience not only as a theme park attraction but to allow, promote and nourish the imagination of children and the utility of recycling waste.



I met Anuj Saini, who is now the caretaker of the Rock Garden after his father’s demise in 2015 at the age of 90. His eyes danced with joy and pride when he showed me around. The value of the inheritance he has received from his father is far greater than what people see today. I do hope the Government puts in greater effort in promoting this creative masterpiece.



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