After hanging fire for several years, the proposed light and sound show at the historic Khandagiri and Udayagiri Jain heritage sites here has finally seen light of the day. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has given its consent and Centre sanctioning Rs 5 crore last month. The Sun Temple at Konark and Dhauli hills would also be having the same facilities to woo tourists.
The Centre-run India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) would execute the light and sound systems at the three places. "The ASI, custodian of the Khandagiri and Udayagiri hills, has given its approval, subject to the plan and design of the project. The Union tourism ministry sanctioned Rs 5 crore each for the three destinations. Of the sanctioned Rs 15 crore, the Centre has already released Rs 3 crore," tourism minister Maheswar Mohanty told.
"We will soon start the process of jotting down scripts, highlighting the legends and other historic significance of the destinations for recording. Each light and sound show would be played for at least 30 minutes," Mohanty said.
The minister said the proposed project would be commissioned on a priority basis to draw more tourists after cyclone Phailin caused severe damage to the tourism sector of the state.
Though an attempt was made by tourism department about six years back to introduce light and sound systems at Khandagiri and Udayagiri hills, the project could not take off because of ASI's objections. ASI was then apprehensive about possible defacement of the monuments' engineering due to the show, which necessitated fitting sound boxes and equipment to the walls of the age-old heritage structure.
While Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan's voice was recorded for narration of the historical importance of the hills, a Kolkata-based firm was then engaged to carry out the installment work. However, the project was scrapped at the last moment because of ASI's opposition.
"This time, the latest technology would be used to ensure that no damage is caused to the age-old structure. Experts of IIT-Kharagpur recently conducted a survey and found that the upgraded light show would not harm the monuments," tourism director Manoranjan Pattnaik said.
Sources said the ITDC has estimated an expenditure of Rs 6.5 crore for each light and sound project whereas the Centre sanctioned Rs 5 crore.
This grant is expected to help promote Udayagiri and Khandagiri among the Jains, historians and interested people and expected to draw more visitors.