Chand worked on his Rock Garden in secret for almost 20 years, until 1975, when the city government sent a team to clear the forest, intent on clearing it for more construction. They discovered the growing oasis in their way, and luckily, a number of Chand’s supporters banded together to save the Rock Garden. By 1976, the city agreed to preserve it—and even gave Chand a salary and staff to continue its growth. It opened to the public the same year; the artist happily showed visitors around his arcadia as they began to come in droves.
Chand and his crew continued to expand the garden until the artist’s death in 2015, at the age of 90. Today, it is preserved by the Nek Chand Foundation, and stands as a testament to one man’s vision of utopia. Chand didn’t share Le Corbusier’s desire to create the perfect city by felling everything that came before it. Instead, he built a monument to the natural world—and to the gods he believed created it—from the recycled discards of “progress.”