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People throng Rock Garden to bid adieu to Nek Chand

Rock Garden employees pay floral tributes to its creator Nek Chand in Chandigarh on Saturday. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar  

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People from all walks of life on Saturday poured in at the Rock Garden in Chandigarh to pay their last respects to Nek Chand, the man behind the iconic creation who breathed his last on Friday.

The mortal remains of Chand were kept at the Rock Garden on Saturday for the public to pay their last respects. His funeral procession will pass through the city later on Saturday and the cremation will be held in the evening, his family members said.

Among the prominent persons who visited Rock Garden were Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki.

Chand had been ailing for the past few days and was admitted to a private hospital in Chandigarh. He was later shifted to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), where he passed away in the early hours of Friday. He was 90.

Chand is survived by his wife Kamla, son Anuj and daughter Neelam.

Earlier on Saturday, his body was taken to the Rock Garden from his house at Sector 27 on the same route along which Chand used to regularly cycle to the garden.

Entry to the Rock Garden was made free for the public for two days since Friday.

The administration of the Union Territory of Chandigarh has made necessary arrangements to bid the artistic genius a farewell with full state honours.

The news of his death came as a big shock to the numerous employees who had worked with him at the Rock Garden.

Payni Muthu (57), who started working with Chand from the age of 18, “Baauji’s (Chand’s) demise came as a big shock. He was a kind-hearted man who inspired his employees to give their children the best education and teach them good values.”

Another employee, Kaliamma, said that Chand used to be particular about every detail pertaining to his work. “He would give us detailed instructions. Sometimes, he would also teach our children and play with them. His death has left a big void,” she said.

A roads inspector with the Public Works Department in Punjab, Chand had quietly built his magical kingdom using waste items like broken crockery, electrical fittings, glass bangles, bathroom tiles, wash basins, etc.

The >Rock Garden, inaugurated in 1976, is now spread over an area of nearly 40 acres. More than 2.5 lakh people from India and abroad visit it every year. The annual revenue generated from ticket sales at Rock Garden is around Rs. 1.8 crore.

Chand’s unique art has also been showcased in museums abroad.

Mr. Solanki paid floral tributes to Chand and expressed his condolences to the bereaved family members.

Terming Chand a “revolutionary creator”, Solanki wrote a message in the visitor’s book at the Rock Garden, saying, “His creation has left a huge impact in the history of Chandigarh and would always be remembered by all. I express my deepest condolences on the demise of such a great craftsman and human being.”

Solanki added in his message that Chandigarh is known for its Rock Garden and the Rock Garden is known for Nek Chand.

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Printable version | Aug 23, 2017 1:43:28 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/chandigarh-bids-adieu-to-rock-garden-creator-nek-chand/article7312799.ece