New Delhi: State-run India Tourism Development Corp. Ltd(ITDC) is creating at least 10 new “sound and light shows” to run in various historical sites across India by 2010, when New Delhi will host the Commonwealth Games.
Such scripted shows include elements of lights, sound and narratives that help recreate the history of that particular site and are often used to attract visitors to such sites. In 2010, around 10 million foreign visitors and around 725 million domestic tourists are expected to travel within India.
The country’s oldest “sound and light” show is held at the Red Fort in the Capital and began some 30 years ago. It has the voices of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehruand Subhas Chandra Boseand its permanent script has been approved by Parliament. Each show lasts about 55 minutes and is available in multiple languages.
“Most sound and light shows have a budget of between Rs1.5-2 crore and are funded by the government of India. Around 10-12 new sound and light shows are in the pipeline and will be ready in the next 10-15 months, in time for the Commonwealth Games,” said N.K.A. Ballal, vice-president at Ashok Creatives, the division of ITDC that offers consulting from concept to commissioning for sound and light projects.
The proposed shows include one for the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat, where Mahatma Gandhi started the Dandi march in 1930, and one on the Kumbhalgarh fort and wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan. “It is not easy to create a sound and light show. Local sentiments play a very big part in the way the story, script and site shapes up. Approvals have to be taken from historians. Local folk stories are added to the script to dramatise what could otherwise be a boring experience,” says Ballal.
In addition to the costs of creating a show, maintenance is a more complex issue, says Ballal. Each show has an annual maintenance fee of about Rs10 lakh.
“Mostly the state government maintains it after we hand the site over to them, or they get a private firm,” says Ballal.
Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan, for instance, is maintained by Hindustan Zinc Ltd. The Kumbhalgarh Fort show will be managed by Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. “Sound and light” shows in India include those at the Red Fort, in Chittorgarh Fort (Rajasthan), in Cellular jail (Port Blair), at the Golconda Fort (Hyderabad), in the Somnath temple (Gujarat), in Amer Fort (Jaipur) and at Kurukshetra.