MY LONG association with Baau ji, as we would fondly address Nek Chand ji, dates back to the late 1960s, long before the Rock Garden was formally accepted by the Administration in 1976. The garden came to limelight after a chance visit by the late S K Sharma, in charge of the local anti-malaria prevention team, to this place. It was he, who had initiated a visit of Dr M S Randhawa to the garden. Dr M S Randhawa not only appreciated the concept but also played a dynamic role in getting the garden its due recognition.
I was one of the early campaigners, along with a few others, for the retention of Rock Garden that was then on the top of the Administration’s hit list for demolition of unauthorised structures. In fact, it was through S K Sharma’s astute local and national media publications, supported by a spate of letters that his admirers wrote in local papers, which brought the Rock Garden to the national limelight.
The very first brochure on Rock Garden was also published with the untiring efforts of S K Sharma and a few others. Apart from contributing one of the articles for the brochure, I had also designed its cover that Nek Chand ji had liked very much.
Almost all his admirers have in their possession some or the other artwork, representing the Rock Garden’s essence, which he would generously offer. I have in my possession an absolutely unique and distinct work of art by Nek Chand, which is not part of the Rock Garden! I once asked Nek Chand ji if I could borrow from him a few letters from his huge fan mail, which contained beautiful doodles that he would make on empty spaces on the letters in his free time.
I got some of them photo-copied and pasted them collectively on one page, on which I got his signatures embedded. It is one of my most precious and proud possessions that remind me of his art, his giving nature and his constant experimentation with materials to create something unique. The writer is former principal, Government College, Sector 11, Chandigarh, and a resident of Sector 48.