The Phase 3 of the Rock Garden is abuzz with activities, as family and friends of Nek Chand and many officials of the Chandigarh administration are busy giving last-minute touches to the Dolls Museum, which will be opened to the public on June 12, the second death anniversary of the creator.
As many as 200 rag dolls made from waste clothes by Nek Chand are part of the museum, the theme of which is a village, with special huts, trees and other spaces created here to complete the look and feel. Using materials, designs, colours and textures that are synonymous with the garden, the museum has a meandering path, with a separate entry and exit.
At this phase, Nek Chand had created different blocks for displays, with one for the dolls, which he began creating in 1970. Anurag Aggarwal, home secretary and chairman of Rock Garden Society, is personally overseeing the work with Anuj Saini, Nek Chand’s son, and have designed the place since months to make it a reality.
Saini said: “Villages were close to his heart, and so we have a village scene, depicting women and men involved in day-to-day activities like weaving, cooking on the chulha, tending to the cows, a panchayat at work, a small school in action, with animal and bird figures part of the museum.
We had new clothes made for the dolls and also repaired many for the display. These were elements that were close to my father’s heart and he wanted a special space for these, so we are happy that these will now find a permanent display here.”
A hall at this phase of the garden will also showcase an exhibition of rare photographs of Nek Chand, his awards and some of his belongings, and later the will be a museum dedicated to him.
A seminar on the importance and need of preservation and conservation of the garden will be held in which experts from the fields, some members of the Nek Chand Foundation as well as city residents will brainstorm some practical measures.
Also, a half-an-hour movie on the life and work of Nek Chand will be screened on Monday and later be played daily for visitors in a special theatre. The idea of these efforts is to take forward the decades of the creative and extraordinary work done by Nek Chand, against all odds and without much support.
Deepika Gandhi, director, Chandigarh Architecture Museum, said: “Exactly why children, our future, should be sensitised to the unique space we have here, the vision of its creator and also the many aspects of its creation. This knowledge will not only make them appreciate their legacy, but also inspire them to discover their own potentials and the value of hard work and creativity and encourage them to think about reusing old things and doing their bit for the environment.”
Gandhi has written and designed a 25-page handbook, Nek Chand’s Rock Garden, which will be released on June 12. The book has been created keeping in mind the interest of children, with maps, a quiz, questionnaire, timeline of events, sketches, idea of a project using waste materials, colourful photographs making it an absorbing read.
The book contains, in simple and interesting language, many unknown facets of the site of the garden, and in a story format, the dream of Nek Chand, and how he single-handedly pursued it, the key components here, and why is it so special, an overview and components of every phase, the sculptures, materials used.
The book will be a part of libraries of government schools of the city, and be available at the garden and souvenir shops across the city. “The scale of work, his observations, attention to detail, the idea was to celebrate both the maker and the creation,” said Gandhi.