Nek Chand Saini’s Rock Garden
Nek Chand Saini (1924 – 2015) worked as a road inspector for the Indian government. In the 1950s he began gathering rocks and discarded materials that he assembled into sculptures using concrete. For over a decade he continued this work in secrecy, creating many sculptures on a government-owned forest reserve. When his work was discovered, the government decided not to destroy the structures, and instead gave Chand a salary and assigned him a team of workers, enabling him to devote his full attention to his work. The Rock Garden now consists of several thousand sculptures and spans over twenty-five acres.
In 1996 the site was vandalized when the government ceased to fund its maintenance. Unwilling to witness further destruction on the sculptures, the Nek Chand Foundation was formed to preserve the work. Today, the Rock Garden is the second most visited site in India, next to the Taj Mahal.
Isaiah and his family visited the Rock Garden and met Nek Chand Saini in 2001. Several years later, the Zagars invited Chand to stay in their home and visit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Chand was so amazed by the work that he named PMG “Sheesh Mahal,” meaning “Palace of Mirrors.”
You can see Chand’s name in the mosaic in both the middle gallery and sculpture garden.
Button & Top Photo Credit: Britannica