Thank you, for bringing fantasies to life.
Today Nek Chand, creator of the iconoc Rock Garden of Chandigarh, passed away. Here is a blog post that I wrote up in the early days of 2013 on my impressions of the place:
This blog post is about a place that actually taught me the following things about ‘beyond’ : Rock Garden, Chandigarh
1. What you expect is not necessarily what you get.
Back in architecture school, looking at some slides in a landscape architecture class with a glazed eye and a blank mind, the name ‘Rock garden’ and a couple of photographs that were presented woke me up. But then again, the spark failed to materialize into a fire as the discussion turned towards sustainability and all that…(I mean, c’mon…everyone talks of sustainability recycling and yada yada and then goes home to jumps back into the consumerist wagon and produce more waste than ever…so you see now why I wasn’t impressed). Needless to say, my little brain cried ‘hypocrites!’ and started some thoughts of its own and sidetracked into much more interesting day dreams. So when the time came to actually visit this place after many months, boy was I surprised!
2. Nothing is cast in brick or stone (or concrete). Not theories, nor opinions. Not even life.
Why, you ask? Well because of the overarching theme of the place: A place where man meets nature, shapes it and is in turn shaped by it – in other words, sustainability at its essence, with all its dynamics. And all other elements, big and small, are subdued and only serve to intensify this theme. I guess, it is possible to achieve so much with so little and express ideas in so many different ways. The bigger picture changes,with every step of the journey, with a change in the little things that form the whole. And so, nothing is as it seems!
3. Fantasy need not just exist in your mind, between pages of a book or the frames of a movie; it could be brought to life.
So what did I experience in this place? Well, sometimes I was content, other times restless to see what was happening beyond. Sometimes I was a little kid walking across mountains, at other times, I was a giant intruding upon little homes, inhabited by creatures a little taller than a blade of grass. Sometimes I created and inhabited my own universe in caverns carved out of recycled tins and computers. At others, I was watched and hunted by silhouettes seen against a yellow sky, from places I might have crossed, but which I could not reach now, trapped as I was somewhere that seemed to have no exits. All the while passing through tiny doorways & majestic passes in the artificial mountains….all of which brings me to my fourth point:
4. Life is so much bigger than you or me.
And thank you Nek Chand, for proving that.
And this is the time when I realize that the writing bug has crawled out of me…So yeah, just look beyond..and if you can’t, then just be willing to be surprised! Adios!
Rock garden in Chandigarh, is a sculpture garden created by Nek Chand in 1957, made entirely from waste materials from around the city. Spread over 40 acres, it is currently a public space and is managed by the Rock Garden Society.