Forget about licking the rainbow trunk of some rare tropical frog and wandering goggle-eyed around the Amazon. Don’t waste your time picking magic mushrooms from the turds of Finnish reindeers so you can spend days rolling around in the warm crunch of Laplandian snow.
The world’s ultimate psychedelic adventure is a day out at Nek Chand Fantasy Rock Garden in Punjab’s capital, Chandigarh. And you can leave the hallucinogenics at home, because all you need is a few spare hours and maybe enough money for an ice-cream.
A 25 acre labyrinth of recycled waste sculptures, Nek Chand Fantasy Rock Garden is part art installation, part playground, and a whole lot of fun. And the story of how it came about is just as magical as the place itself.
Back in the mid-seventies, a Pakistani road inspector, Nek Chand Saini, was overseeing the construction of new roads for the post-partition city of Chandigarh. As villages were demolished to make way for the roads, Nek was amazed at the amount of interesting waste that was being generated. He began to gather the materials and stockpile them in his jungle home where he turned them into sculptures. Nek carried on creating figures from recycled goodies for 15 years before his works were eventually discovered and his secret was out.
The result is a playfully twisted parallel universe where a thousand lucid dreams are recreated from pottery, plugs, bangles, porcelain and other salvaged materials. Inspired by Gaudi and Chandigarh’s city-planner and architect Swiss-born Le Corbusier, it is a modernist masterpiece.
The final section that takes you to the exit is spectacular. Figures made from various visually-intriguing materials line-up in huge numbers on porcelain slopes. Deformed clay creatures; rainbow-coloured tribeswomen; monkeys, donkeys, elephants, goats all staring down at you, judging.
You can read more about the gardens and Nek Chand here