Case Study: Kevadia City, India

Hurrairah bin Sohail speaks with Rhino Engineers and Modern Stage Service about a lighting installation that aims to fundamentally enhance and prolong the visitor attraction experience for monuments in India.

The Statue of Unity, a 182m tall statue of Indian statesman and independence activist Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, located in the state of Gujrat, India, has the honour of being the tallest statue in the world. But the statue was not meant to truly be a standalone monument, it was part of larger push from the Indian government to promote tourism and to bring to light the history of the country which included the development of the nearby Kevadia city.

Kevadia city is intended to serve as a unique visitor attraction and Narendra Naidu, principal consultant at Rhino Engineers, provides further details: “There is a government initiative to develop new destinations for visitors and the dream of the Prime Minister is to maximise the potential of these tourist attractions. All parties felt that the Kevadia city was an excellent opportunity to explore how we can take visitor attractions in India to the next level. It is a beautiful location surrounded by dense forests, it is located on the border of two states and there are already nearly 30 visitor attractions nearby which include the Statue of Unity and the Sardar Sarovar Dam. These also include multiple activities like zip-liner, children nutrition park, mountain cycling, jungle safari, cactus garden, butterfly garden, Ekta nursery, dino trail, river rafting, boating and arogya van. All the required elements to make it a successful tourist attraction were already present.”

Kartik Wadhwa, director of Modern Stage Service, details: “The Statue of Unity was of course a huge project undertaken by the Indian government, but as a second phase there was a new project to build a ‘tourism city’ around the statue. This included theme parks, attractions, a hotel and government buildings and much more. A lot of people come to visit the Statue of Unity, but none of them stay. So, the main idea was ‘night tourism’. The government wanted to provide the visitors with a secondary attraction which they could visit once they had already been to the Statue of Unity and this led them to develop the entire city around the Statue of Unity.”

Naidu adds: “India has over 3,000 monuments and visitor attractions but a lot of these monuments are dead during the night-time. There is a great missed opportunity there and there is an opportunity to prolong and enhance the experience of the visitor. The first step is lighting, if these monuments can be lit up then visitors have their first reason to stay. After that you can try and develop new ideas to make sure that the visitors remain engaged and entertained. What we are trying to do at Kevadia city is a totally new treatment for visitor attractions in India.”

Rhino Engineers was engaged as the consultant to bring Kevadia city to life. Naidu talks about the initial conversations around the conceptualisation of the project: “The Chief Minister of Gujrat put forward Blackpool, UK where they have creative lighting and projection to enhance the visitor experience as a possible source of inspiration. Dr. Rajiv Kumar Gupta, additional chief secretary, Forests and Environment and managing director of SSNNL highlighted Las Vegas as an example of how lighting can be used to create a great experience. I was called in and these ideas and inspirations were communicated to me and they said they wanted something that was state of the art. With these starting points work commenced, and I began the process of conceptualising something for Kevadia city.”

Modern Stage Service was selected as the integrator for the project. Wadhwa says: “We were engaged to primarily deliver the lighting for the whole city that surrounds the Statue of Unity. This was primarily a façade lighting project for us but of course, there were some additional components for the project such as in-lit animals and palm trees which we also provided.”

Regarding the lighting products used Wadhwa says: “We used our own brand of lighting, Modern Stage Service is also a lighting manufacturer. We used a range of different lighting products such as wall washers for the buildings, flood light and spotlights and neon-flex RGB strips. But the main thing is that all the lighting and all the LEDs are programmable from a central location, you can actually change the colour of the entire city with ease if you wanted to. And that is what is being done, the lighting for the buildings and the hotels and the city is programmed to be a different colour every day.”

Working on the project was not easy and Naidu details: “There were a number of challenges for this project. When work started it was already monsoon season and that meant monsoon showers. All our lighting required the installation of electrical equipment and you can imagine that all these works are complicated when it rains. Because of the bad weather there was also a concern with regards to timing and delivering the project on schedule. Lastly, this was a project with a number of stakeholders such as the agency, government department and local municipality. We had to make sure all of them were brought on for strategic decisions which required a fair bit of coordination.”

Wadhwa adds: “When we got to the site with our 40-person team, there were no hotels, no apartments and really not many places to rent because the location was not very developed. Of course, now after the government investment it is a much more developed city but at that time the infrastructure was not present. Now we have food courts, hotels and a lot of visitors coming up. But at the start of the project this was not the case. So, we had to contend with the less than ideal situation and all the associated problems that come with it.”

Modern Stage Service also faced its fair share of challenges that are part and parcel of the integrator’s job on any project. Wadhwa says: “The civil works were going on even when our installation started. Everyone had 80 days to get the project done so everyone was working hard to make the deadline. But it was a challenge for us because sometimes when we had to put lights in a location the other contractors wanted to maybe break down a wall. So, we had to keep reworking everything within the short span of time we had. The other challenge was that the Statue of Unity was open to visitors, so we had a lot of tourists coming and stopping by. So, if we had to put some wiring down that was cutting across the road it was a logistical problem because we had to make sure that the roads could be shut and that it would not negatively impact the flow of the tourists.”

Despite the challenges, the AV professionals were able to complete the project on schedule. Naidu concludes: “The vision of the government with regards to the Kevadia city project was grand, from Blackpool to Las Vegas serving as inspiration. As the consultant for the project, I will be honest I felt some trepidation trying to create something that matched those locations. But after sharing my initial designs, I was relieved that the client was behind my ideas and concepts. Of course, the identity of our project is so different, and I think our installation takes into account local culture and traditions. We matched the requirements of the brief given to us and what we have created delivers a wow-factor while staying true to the original push of the government.”

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