Nek Chand, photo by John Maizels, Raw Creation
Nek Chand was born in 1924 in the village of Berian Kala, Tehsil Shakargarh, in what is now Pakistan, and relocated to India in 1947 with his family. He eventually moved to Chandigarh, the first planned, modern "Utopian" city in India. Chand worked as a roads inspector by day, and at night he began to construct his own little kingdom in a cleared patch of jungle. He used rocks, stones, clay, and other recycled materials and debris to create figurines and landscapes to place them in. Having created figurines since childhood, Chand believed that each figurine contained the spirit of a human being, god or goddess. For years, Chand worked secretly on constructing his kingdom, yet the location he chose was in a forested area that was kept by the city as a land conservatory. In 1975, a work crew stumbled upon Chand's 12-acre paradise, and although his work on the city-owned land had been illegal, the government decided to give him a state salary and 50 workers so that he could devote himself to the Rock Garden full-time. Nek Chand's Rock Garden is now the world's largest visionary environment, with several thousand sculptures spanning more than 25-acres, and is one of the largest tourist attractions in India with over 5,000 visitors a day (second only to the Taj Mahal).
To learn more about Nek Chand, visit: http://www.nekchand.com/