Cactus Garden at Panchkula
The Cactus Garden is located in the twin city of Panchkula, about 5 km from Chandigarh.
This well laid out garden has an astonishing collection of some very rare Cactii. Most of these have been gifted by Cactus lovers from all over the world.
Nek Chand Fantasy Rock Garden
Lonely Planet describes this place as having a "Lost World feel" and they're not wrong. To say this place is unique is an understatement and with all this in mind, its not surprising that it has become Chandigarh's main tourist attraction.
The creator of the rock garden, Nek Chand was a Road Inspector in the Engineering Department of the Chandigarh Capital Project. He roamed the Shivalik foothills and picked up stones resembling bird, animal, human and abstract forms. He brought them on his bicycle. The first seven years (1958-65) were spent collecting natural material, urban and industrial waste. Gradually his collection mounted to a staggering twenty thousand rock forms of amazing beauty. These were deposited around a hut which he had built for his work and contemplation. He built the Rock Garden from this improvised hut which was located by the side of a stream.
On 24th February, 1973, the Rock Garden was accidentally discovered by Dr.S.K.Sharma who headed an Anti-malaria party a vector reconnaissance duty in the forest which the garden is located. Soon thereafter, Dr. M.S Randhawa, (the first Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh), visited and placed the matter before the Chandigarh Landscape Advisory Committee, as its chairman, at a meeting held on 23rd June, 1973 suggesting that this garden of rocks, stone and scrap was the most unusual and it should be preserved in its present form, free from the interfearence of architects and town planners. The Rock Garden was thus inaugurated in 1976.
The garden features a series of canyons, waterfalls, archways, walls and figures of people and animals made out of concrete, boulders, pebbles and junk such as broken pottery and old bracelets. More pictures can be found in one of my travelogues.
Open: 1st April-30th Sept: 9am-7pm, 1st Oct-31st Mar: 9am-6pm. Open daily. Admission: Rs10.
Compared to the other cities of India, Chandigarh is a relatively new city found in the 1950’s. Chandigarh is not only the capital of Punjab, but also the capital of the neighboring state of Haryana.
A foreign born city planner and architect were hired to plan the layout of the city. The city has a great road system, with a separate lane for rickshaws and bicycles, which is long overdue in many of the Indian towns. The streets are clean and the city is great place to visit as well as do some shopping.