Video: Rock Garden In Chandigarh
Kelreuteria graceful (Koelreuteria elegans)
Chandigarh is not like other cities in India. It was conceived by the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and very quickly built according to the project of the French architect of Swiss origin Le Corbusier in the so-called "international style". The city grew in 1951-56. entirely in a new place, at the foot of the Himalayas, between two rivers, among the greenery of eucalyptus and bamboo groves. Now it is the administrative center of two Indian states at the same time - Punjab and Haryana, these states are considered one of the most prosperous in the country.
Caesalpinia is beautiful
The city has a correct layout, divided into 47 self-sufficient districts. Residential blocks are buried in greenery so that they are almost invisible from the side of highways. Huge funds are invested in the city on landscaping, 2 million dollars were spent on landscaping. The streets for India are unusually wide, with orderly traffic. At the intersection of the streets, a circular movement is organized, the center of which is beautiful and not similar plant compositions. But the most favorite place for walks is the embankment along the lake with a boat station, tall palm trees along the shore and a mass of flowering trees and bushes, in which a discordant chorus of unknown birds chirps loudly. It is curious that one of the names of Chandigarh is "City of Beauty". And indeed it is.
The climate here is subtropical, in winter the temperature sometimes drops to -1 degrees. There are many park areas in the city - the Rose Garden, the Chrysanthemum Garden, where the traditional chrysanthemum festival is held in autumn, a large zoo that combines a botanical garden.
But The Rock Garden has rightfully become the hallmark of the city. Frankly, going into it, we expected to see if not a Japanese garden, but certainly something meditative. It turned out to be completely different! Through a narrow entrance, similar to a tunnel, we found ourselves in a fairy-tale world that immediately impressed with its scope! On the one hand, the garden is surrounded by an almost fortified wall, on the other, it is adjacent to residential buildings, and in the depths it juts out into the jungle. The wall is lined with pieces of ceramic tiles, and 25 outlandish mosaic birds sit on it. The very first impression evokes associations with the works of the great Antonio Gaudi and the Chinese terracotta army at the same time, although it is significantly inferior to him in area (just over 7 hectares). And then this impression is only intensified by the abundance of bright mosaics and a huge number of sculptural groups.
All this was created by his own enthusiasm Nek Chand Saini (1924-2015). He was born in 1924 90 km north of Lahore and was the first in his village to graduate from high school. After studying in Lahore, he worked on a family farm. He was 23 years old when Pakistan seceded from India, and Nek Chand moved with his family to Haryana State, and soon joined the Department of Highways under the refugee employment program. In 1951, Nek Chand was appointed Traffic Inspector for the Chandigarh Public Works Department, where he oversaw road construction. But an artist was already born in him, who found material for his work in industrial dumps and in demolished buildings. On weekends, he rode a bicycle along rivers, mountains and jungles, collecting unusual stones and driftwood,in which he saw the sculptural works of a high creator - nature.
Wall made of socket parts
For his work, he found the ideal refuge - a gorge in the buffer zone near a local reservoir on the outskirts of the city. Nek Chand worked in the jungle all his free time, even at night, without electricity, fighting many insects, wild animals and snakes, creating his sculptures and entire landscapes.
An artist and architect on a whim, he never created projects on paper, preferring to build right away in a natural way. He strove to create a divine kingdom - a garden that would look like a lost world. However, for a long 20 years he really was.
The winding path in the first part of the garden, conceived by the author as an "Ode to nature", is paved with stones brought from the river valleys. The garden has several small cascades and two waterfalls, one of which is 20 m high! Narrow and low galleries, arches and winding passages connect a series of courtyards, each inhabited by its own world and varied by the play of light and shadow.
In some places, the passages are so small that visitors have to bow their heads - the author wanted in this way visitors to demonstrate humility to the gods. This surreal space is inhabited by figures of birds, monkeys, tigers, warriors, dancers, musicians, village women, more than 2000 statues in total. And most importantly, they are made from recycled materials, i.e. in a simple way, out of garbage.
Large groups of people and animals in the second part of the garden are conceived by the author as figures of the gods and goddesses of his fictional world. All these characters are from the architect's rural childhood, the epic stories of his mother. Moreover, they do not necessarily have a primitive national character, some are quite reminiscent of works of modern art, for which convention is inherent.
The third part of the rock garden is a large amphitheater, "Ode to the Holiday". And, indeed, a holiday reigns around - the kingdom of crooked mirrors donated to the garden by the Neka Chand Foundation, and an aquarium.
The Rock Garden in Chandigarh is the country's largest environmental project in line with the modern concept of sustainable development. When it was created, rejected pipes, broken tiles, faience, glass bracelets, remnants of building materials, clay pots, shells, street lamps, burnt bricks, fittings, electrical outlets and wires, bottle caps, bicycle handles, rags, hairpins, etc. even the human hair itself, collected by hairdressing salons.
Bird from hair pins
Nek Chand turned out to be the first person in India to apply re-use technologies in his art and to build the country's first artificial waterfalls. Waterfalls in the garden are active throughout the year, even during the driest periods, thanks to the collection and recycling of rainwater.
He did not dream of public recognition, but was simply carried away by his work, like a child embodying childhood dreams in his project. Moreover, he understood that he was building a "sand castle", since the illegal construction could be discovered and destroyed by the city administration at any time. He managed to keep a secret for two decades. However, in 1973, a new road was to pass here, for which the clearing of the jungle began, and the threat of destruction hung over the garden. But the chief architect of Chandigarh was so amazed by what he saw that he constantly visited the garden and allowed the artist to continue working.
Сад попал в поле зрения и тогдашнего главы Чандигарха. Биолог и антрополог по образованию, он заинтересовался окаменелостями в коллекциях художника и, будучи председателем ландшафтном комитета при администрации Чандигарха, решил открыть сад для посещения. Это произошло в 1976 году (площадь его составляла 5,3 га), тогда же художник получил денежную премию в размере 5000 рупий и сертификат, удостоверяющий, что Нек Чанд волен полностью посвятить себя Саду камней и освобождается от всех иных обязанностей. Для продолжения работы в городе открыли пункты сбора тряпок и керамических черепков для творчества художника, подключили 50 рабочих.
Soon the garden became world famous. In 1980, after an exhibition in Paris, Nek Chand was awarded the Grande Medaille de Vermeil. The Government of India recognized Neka Chand's outstanding contribution to the arts in 1983 with the prestigious Padma Shri Award. And in 1986 he received an offer to build a rock garden at the Children's Museum in Washington DC and was subsequently promoted to the Museum's Creative Director.
But there were also difficult times. Despite the huge popularity of the garden among visitors, twice, in the 89th and 90th years, there were vandal attacks and attempts to demolish the Garden of stones. The second cost Neku Chand a heart attack. It was only thanks to the human shield and the collection of signatures in defense that the unique garden was defended. In 1990, its third part (with an amphitheater) was opened, which has not been completed to this day due to lack of funds.
Now there is the Neka Chanda Foundation (there is one in the UK), which collects donations to maintain the garden and is looking for volunteer workers to preserve this landmark of India, which has become world famous along with the Taj Mahal and Khajuraho temples. The Taj Mahal was built for 20 years by the efforts of 22 thousand workers, and this unique garden in the same 20 years was built by only one enthusiastic person! Its attendance (5 thousand per day) is second only to the Taj Mahal, and since its opening, it has been visited by more than 12 million admired visitors like us.
Photo: Rita Brilliantova
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