“Nek Chand’s contribution to Chandigarh is grand and unique and it has helped the city gain a prominent stature in the world,” reflects Hari Parbha, a close friend of Nek Chand. The two met in the early seventies and developed a close bond, as they had a mutual love for art and nature. Parbha was visiting his sister from London, who insisted that they visit the Rock Garden, as she held the space and its creator in high esteem. As fate would have it, they met the man behind the iconic garden and the meeting resulted in a close friendship and what followed were many conversations on the ideas and inspirations behind the creations.
“I was very curious and always had a number of questions. Nek would always attend to each query patiently. During the first meeting, I recorded the entire conversation on my cine camera, which I still have with me. You could see the passion in his eyes when he talked about his work. It was almost magical. The creative use of scrap and waste products was not only impressive, but something that would be greatly appreciated in the years to come. Honestly, such concepts need to be put into action more than ever before. It is the need of the hour,” adds Parbha. The annual trips to India and Chandigarh meant several visits to the Rock Garden and it made their friendship blossom and gradually the families got to know each other. “His sober nature impacted our heart.”
Parbha says that Nek Chand was a man of deep intelligence and never felt any pride in his achievements and these qualities reflect in his artworks, each simple yet unique. One that was gifted to Parbha, a chowkidaar with a lantern, made of tiles, has its own story, placed beautifully at the entrance of their house in Sector 34.
And, he says it seems like it was made for this space. Placed next to the sculpture are two stones that were personally picked by Nek Chand from London that complement the sculpture.
“During one of his visits to London, he stayed with us, an honour for our family. When we went sightseeing, he was more inclined to walk along the river Thames where he picked up a few decorative stones, which were carried to the house and he himself placed these at our home here in Chandigarh. Everyone appreciates these pieces. We were friends for a very long time and he knew how much we appreciated his work. So, he must have felt that we deserve a piece of him and what better gift than his works of art. A gift from his heart.”