CHANDIGARH: People from all walks of life and prominent persons today poured in at the Rock Garden here to pay their last respects to Nek Chand, the man behind the iconic creation who breathed his last here yesterday.
The mortal remains of Chand were kept at the Rock Garden today for the public to pay their last respects. His funeral procession will pass through the city later today 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 here. He was later shifted to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), where he passed away in the early hours yesterday. He was 90.
Chand is survived by his wife Kamla, son Anuj and daughter Neelam.
Earlier today, his body was taken to the Rock Garden from his house at Sector 27 here 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 yesterday.
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.
Said 57-year-old Payni Muthu, 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 iconic 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.