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History retold in sound, light
- ITDC and Odisha tourism propose shows at three sites

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 15: Kalinga war, the exploits of Emperor Kharavela and the story of fabled sculptor Bisu Maharana’s son Dharmapada may come alive in their historic backdrops with India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Odisha Tourism planning sound and light shows on such themes at Dhauli, Khandagiri-Udayagiri and Konark, monuments that draw lakhs of tourists every year, with an investment of Rs 20 crore.

The project, which will use state-of-the-art laser technology to highlight the stories set in history, is likely to be completed within a year by ITDC, which will invest Rs 15 crore. The tourism department of the state government will chip in with Rs 5 crore.

Experts from ITDC, which has a separate wing specialising in such programmes, visited the three historic sites last week.

While Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves are located within Bhubaneswar, the Dhauli hills with its famous peace pagoda and Asokan edicts is located on the outskirts of the state capital. The fabled Konark sun temple stands in all its majesty near the sea, about 20km from Puri.

With the Odisha government’s approval expected soon, ITDC and Odisha Tourism will together approach the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for the show at Khandagiri-Udayagiri and Konark as both these monuments are protected by it. For Dhauli, the permission of the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha, which constructed the international peace pagoda on the hills in 1972, will be sought.

State tourism director-cum-joint secretary M.R. Patnaik said the old notion that sound and light shows have an adverse physical impact on the monuments has changed. “The new laser technology has no ill effects on the sites. We have asked IIT Kharagpur to carry out a detailed technical survey and experts have told us that laser shows pose no danger to the monuments,” said Patnaik.

The 30-minute shows at these three famous tourist destinations will use English, Hindi and Odia for narration. ITDC will prepare the scripts and choose the background voices in consultation with the state tourism department.

Sources said while the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Javed Akhtar, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi might lend their voices for the English and Hindi scripts, the names for dubbing in Odia would be finalised soon. State tourism department will pick the names from the list provided by ITDC. Among others, themes like Kalinga War, Kharavela’s rule and the feat of Bisu Maharana’s son Dharmapada will be featured in the light and shows at these destinations.

The plan has evoked enthusiastic response from people. Shakti Prasanna Mohanty, a teacher at DAV Public School, Pokhariput, said children would learn from such programmes. “It is certain to enhance their knowledge and raise their interest level,” he said.

Tarakanta Parida, artist and founder of the city-based Odisha Modern Art Gallery, said: “Laser technology-assisted sound and light shows will increase tourist inflow to these monuments. The state tourism department should also include other sites such as Barabati Fort at Cuttack and the Buddhist stupa at Ratnagiri in its list for organising sound and light shows.”

ITDC’s light and sound division has already developed similar programmes at 40 historic monuments across the country. With 11 more in the pipeline, including the three in Odisha, this number is expected to go up to 51.

ASI, Bhubaneswar circle, superintending archaeologist Bhuvan Vikrama said: “The sound and light shows at Konark and Khandagiri-Udayagiri were being discussed for some time. Once we get them, we will forward the project details to our director-general’s office in Delhi for approval.’’

The in-charge of the Dhauli international peace pagoda K. Yoda said the state tourism department was yet to approach the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha about the show. “But it will be good for tourists with historical narratives and music,” he said.


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