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Temple story told on a grand scale

The magnificent Konark Sun Temple near Puri, India, dates back to 1255 and is a feat of traditional Kalinga-style architecture. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the stone-carved temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Surya and is a major destination for pilgrims and tourists from around the world. 

To educate visitors on the temple’s fantastic history and religious significance, the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) commissioned a 35-minute light and sound spectacular that would use the structure itself as the backdrop. Delhi-based Tricolor India, associated with The Projection Studio, one of the UK’s leading mapping companies, landed the prestigious project. 

“Konark Temple is an architectural marvel. It depicts human life and forms with very artistic engravings but thoroughly scientific approach,” explains Himanshu Sabharwal, Creative Director at Tricolor India. The temple, which is under renovation, is formed as a gigantic chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls and attracts some 4,000 visitors daily. “We were immensely proud to be given this opportunity to illuminate a structure of this significance and create a show about it.”

Eight projectors, 120 m away
Tricolor designated six 20K and two 10K Christie projectors to cover the giant façade of the temple. Playout and mapping was with Dataton’s WATCHOUT system. PR Lighting provided the illumination and beyerdynamic the trilingual wireless audio for headphones.

Tricolour chose WATCHOUT based on previous experience. "WATCHOUT has been my favourite ever since," says Himanshu Sabharwal. "I find it the most stable, easy-to-program edge-blending server with endless possibilities. With a complicated facade like Konark, we wanted to go with the trusted one."

The complicated facade was not the only challenge at the location – the monumental scale and the historical importance of the building also called for some smart solutions. The canvases chosen for projection were the 60 meter high temple front and the  20-meter high Dancing Hall. However, as the temple is a heritage site, Tricolor was not permitted to install the projectors in the compound but in the shopping area at the entrance, almost 120 meters away. The angular space also came with its own set of challenges in positioning and calibrating the projectors. To top it all, the projectors had to be housed in weatherproof enclosures where the humidity and temperature could be controlled remotely.

Traditional art in content
For the content, Tricolor decided to go back to the temple’s roots and an indigenous art form called Patta Chitra. This traditional painting on cloth scrolls originated in the area and is still practised by local artists. Himanshu Sabharwal tracked down artists to a neighboring village and gave them a crash course on how to create art for mapping the temple, then brought it all together in an engaging 35-minute narrative on a truly grand scale.

Six evenings a week, the temple now comes to life for tourists and pilgrims with the 250-strong seated audience able to enjoy the show via wireless headphones in English, Hindi or Odia. The popular spectacle was inaugurated in 2017 and has quickly become a must for visitors keen to experience the fantastic history of the location.

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