Over subsequent issues, LED World will throw light on several architectural or facade lighting projects undertaken by various organisations across the country, starting with the national capital.
India has a long and rich past. Its cultural magnificence attracts millions of tourists from across the world, which also contributes to the nation’s revenues. The country is 13th in the world and 7th in Asia-Pacific in terms of foreign tourist arrivals, and the government is working hard to push it further up on the list. India has always received flak due to the lack of maintenance of its historical structures. The situation improved slightly after certain important buildings got the title of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but still a lot more needs to be done.
In this regard, the government has come up with various schemes to rejuvenate these historical sites, and boost revenue through tourism. One such scheme is known as Adopt A Heritage, through which the government has involved corporate houses, public sector enterprises and individuals to ‘adopt’ a monument and take responsibility for its maintenance by becoming Monument Mitras.
The project focusses on providing basic amenities that include cleanliness, public conveniences, drinking water, ease of access for differently-abled and senior citizens, standardised signage, and of course, illumination; along with advanced amenities such as surveillance system, night viewing facilities and tourism facilitation center. It is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India, as well as respective state governments.
Let There Be Light!
Illumination is a key aspect of giving a facelift to old monuments. Architectural lighting is an important way of providing visibility to a building after the sun goes down, as well as making it attractive for tourists and local citizens. For this, beams of light are angled on domes, minarets and arches in such a way so as to showcase the intricate carving and well-defined structure of these heritage buildings. Earlier, lighting of such monuments was mostly limited to the light & sound shows, and they were mostly rendered without any lights after dark. Adopt a Heritage has paved the way for adding lights to these old buildings, and the results have already started coming. Government has planned to take up architectural illumination for 100 ‘Adarsh Smaraks’ in India.
Explaining the need for illumination of historical sites, Dr. Anoop Kumar Mittal, Chairman & Managing Director, NBCC (India) Ltd., said, “Indian monuments and heritage are some of the amazing feats of architectural and engineering capabilities. There is a need to restore and simultaneously enhance their aesthetic appeal. To this end, architectural lighting is an impactful technique to cast programmed light on components such as domes, ramparts, minarets, arches and balconies from different directions to highlight their architectural details.” NBCC has undertaken the restoration work of some major sites like Old Fort and Red Fort in New Delhi.
1) Humayun’s Tomb
Built by Mughal emperor Humayun’s wife Haji Begum in honour of her husband, India’s first garden-tomb has been enticing visitors from all over the world. Now, the monument shines through the night too as the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), in collaboration with Havells India Ltd., had completed the task of illuminating it. The white marble dome of the edifice is lit up for five hours after sunset using LED luminaries, and it creates a breathtaking moonlight effect on it.
Havells, as part of its CSR, has installed around 800 lights on various strategic locations around the tomb. Earlier in 1999, high energy consuming halogen lights were put up in its complex, which have now been replaced by LEDs. Anil Bhasin, Executive Vice President, Havells India Ltd., said, “With an aim to restore the cultural heritage of the country, we at Havells have helped in the restoration of Humayun’s Tomb and have done the illumination of the complex. The entire cost of the lighting fixtures has been borne by us.”
He further added, “Havells believes in the philosophy of spearheading the progress of the nation without ignoring the past. This includes restoration and beautification of India’s heritage sites. Going with the philosophy, the company has recently partnered with NBCC (India) Limited to beautify and transform the historic monuments with lighting effects.” Commenting on the project, Ratish Nanda, CEO, AKTC, “This project exemplified the cumulative rigour of creativity and craftsmanship by Havells India Ltd.”
2) Red Fort / Lal Quila
Built under the reign of Shah Jahan, the Red Fort was the residence of Mughal emperors for about 200 years till 1986. The monument is of great importance to all Indians as, from its podium, Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru raised the Indian national flag for the first time after independence. This practice continues even today. For such an important monument, visibility is a must, and here comes the role of lighting. Under the Adopt a Monument scheme, the task for its rejuvenation and maintenance has been taken up by Dalmia Bharat Ltd., and illumination is a significant part of this. The focus is also on installing digital interactive kiosks and digital LED screens, as well as building night trails, facilitating to attract night-time visitors and tap the building’s full tourism potential.
The Dalmia Group has already completed the façade lighting and structure illumination, while the rest of the building will be illuminated within next two years. The fort was lit up for the first time all along its front fortification wall on this year’s Independence Day. The task of lighting was undertaken by NBCC in partnership with ASI, in which 2,500 LED lights were installed at 1.3 km length of parapets. The project cost came at Rs. 3-crore and it took about two months to complete.
Mittal said, “NBCC has successfully executed this at Lal Qila (Red Fort) on the Independence Day this year. NBCC’s restoration work of archaeological sites will not just showcase how such pieces of Indian history can be revived but also throw new light, quite literally, on the country’s cultural heritage.”
3) Old Fort/Purana Quila
Purana Quila is one of the oldest forts in India built under the reigns of Humayun and Sher Shah Suri. Excavations carried out by ASI here in 1954-55 and again in 1969-1973 have unearthed Painted Grey Ware dating to 1000 BC. Now, the historic fort has been given a facelift by collaborative works of NBCC and ASI. The entire fort complex has been lit up by energy efficient LED lights, covering even the lake area, where illuminated fountains have been installed to leave visitors spell-bounded.
“At Purana Quila too, with the endeavour to refurbish the magnificent edifice, NBCC has ‘adopted’ the fort. In collaboration with Archaeological Survey of India, NBCC worked out a comprehensive plan to restore the Old Fort, transforming the acropolis into a quintessential reception for tourists from across the globe,” said Bhasin.
“Old Fort is one of the most famous historic sites of Delhi, hence, it is a very prestigious project for Havells. The illumination of old fort is a big achievement for us and lights up the spirits of Havells lighting. The company used its extensive range of Colorscape RGB architectural lights to create the same captivating effect and enhance the beauty of the old fort. The illumination went beyond the usual façade lighting and the RGB architectural lights helped create the monochrome light, included various lighting patterns, accents, and colours that beautifully enhanced and highlighted different aspects of the fort inside and outside,” he concluded.
The developmental works at Purana Qila are estimated at a cost of Rs. 30 crores, of which NBCC has contributed about half as part of their CSR initiative and the rest has been given by ASI.
4) Rashtrapati Bhawan / The President’s House
One of the most significant modern landmarks of the National Capital and the seat of the highest executive of the country, Rashtrapati Bhawan needs no introduction. Owing to its status, though it is very well maintained, yet it lacked on the aspect of lighting. To counter this, a total of 628 LED light fittings have been installed on the building to highlight the grandeur of its architecture. Lenses of narrow and wide range are being used to illuminate the facade of the building, highlighting some specific features like Jaipur column, dome of the main building, fountains and loggia columns.
The task of illuminating the magnificent colonial building was undertaken by Signify (formerly known as Philips Lighting). Sumit Joshi, Chief Executive Officer, Signify India, commented, “We at Signify take a lot of pride in illuminating the historic and landmark monuments in the country with our dynamic LED façade lighting systems. They help to accentuate the beauty and aesthetics of the monument and bring out the glory of traditional Indian architecture. Apart from the Rashtrapati Bhawan, some other monuments we have illuminated recently include India Gate, North and South Block buildings of the Central Secretariat, and most recently the famed Ayodhya Ghat in Uttar Pradesh.”
The entire network of new dynamic lighting using RGB LED technology with 40 kms of unified power and data cabling has central computerised control with automated selection of colour combinations, with selection of timing, dimming and switching on and off facility, individual and combined control of light fittings etc. through Ethernet based controller.
5) India Gate
The India Gate, located on Rajpath, is a war memorial to 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War. The memorial attracts thousands of tourists on a daily basis, and is regarded as one of the most important historical structures of the capital. The memorial now looks even more magnificent at night as dynamic facade lighting with 16 million colour combinations has been installed here.
The task of installing LED lights at India Gate was taken up by Signify. Joshi said, “The company’s ‘Philips Color Kinetics’ lighting system comprising a pallet of 16 million colors was used for this mammoth task. Philips Color Kinetics utilises the latest advancements in LED technology to create themes and customised light recipes that can be used for important national festivals and celebrations.
Additionally, the system also has dimming features that enable the buildings to reduce their lighting based electrical consumption during non-peak hours. The various light points can be used to create stunning lighting effects and are controlled by Philips Color Kinetics Light System Manager gen5, our most advanced light management system, which can store multiple preset scenes, creating unique light shows with varied effects like ripple, cross-fade, particle and burst.”
A total of 130 RGB narrow and wide beam energy-efficient LED fittings with computerised control will lead to 75 percent energy saving compared to conventional light fittings. The life of these fittings is about one lakh burning hours
6) Qutub Minar
Dating back to the 12th century AD, the world’s second tallest brick minaret was built during the reign of three sultans of the Delhi Sultanate. The tower became even more attractive for tourists after ASI decided to replace façade lights with architectural lights, roping in NBCC for the implementation.
This is being done using LED lights that are known for being long lasting, low maintenance and environment-friendly. Apart from the main Minar, some other important structures in the complex such as Alai Darwaza, Alai Minar, and Quwwatul Islam mosque are also being illuminated using façade lights.
In The Pipeline
Apart from the above mentioned monuments, there are some more that have been adopted by corporate houses but are yet to be revamped and rejuvenated. The monuments are separated into three categories – Green, Blue and Orange – depending on tourist footfall and visibility. Some of them include Jantar Mantar (SBI Foundation), Safdarjung Tomb (Travel Corporation of India Ltd), Agrasen ki Baoli (Special Holidays Travel and Rotary Club of Delhi), among others.
When the Adopt a Heritage Scheme was launched, archaeologists reacted to the project with both enthusiasm and trepidation. While some thought that it would provide a relief to over-stressed ASI by taking away the pressure of maintaining too many monuments at one time, others said that the government should exercise some caution while letting private players adopt government-controlled monuments. The controversy became more pronounced when the Dalmia Group took over the adoption of Red Fort.
However, the government believed that since ASI is both short of resources and time, it would be better to allow private companies to take up the maintenance of these buildings. Moreover, the guidelines made it clear that the legal status of a monument will not change after adoption, and the company will not collect any revenues from the public unless cleared by the government. These guidelines brought in a sense of relief to all stakeholders as well as the public.
Apart from the legal tangles, there are some other challenges that companies involved in this project faced. Bhasin cites one such issue when the company started the lighting work in Old Fort. He said, “While restoring the old structures, we normally get the flexibility of placing the products as per our requirements or do slight changes in the structure. Since Old Fort is a heritage site being managed by ASI, it was almost impossible for us to make any changes or affect the structure in any manner. This was the biggest struggle we had to go through. Overall project designing has been successful and we adapted to the existing possibilities of placing the light fixtures. The result has been great, which can be seen by everyone.”
Havells Colorscape Team highlighted the fact that illumination of the dome of Humayun’s Tomb was a challenge because lighting had to be designed in a way to prevent any shadow on its surface. “No space can exist without shadow. Light and shadow are revered forms, and thus, based on this brief we took the challenge to incorporate the basic vision into the scheme of things,” the Team commented.
It is well known that the LEDs are much more efficient than other forms of lighting in terms of performance and effects on environment. Earlier, halogen bulbs were used to illuminate historical buildings but with the advent of LEDs and their superiority over the former made authorities reconsider the lighting source.
According to Joshi, “As compared to Halogen bulbs, LED lighting is five times more energy-efficient and does not produce heat when lit. Since LEDs don’t emit infrared radiation, they can be installed in heat-sensitive areas, near people and materials, and in small spaces where collected heat might be dangerous. Owing to the high amount of heat generated, Halogen bulbs also consume a lot of electricity to produce light. However, LEDs use only a fraction of the power, which in the meantime is better for the environment as they reduce the carbon footprint. Furthermore, because LEDs do not emit harmful UV rays that can degrade materials or fade paints and dyes, they are ideal for use in retail stores, museums, and art galleries.”
Bhasin added, “LEDs come with many benefits. However, the biggest advantage of LEDs would be the energy saving it does. LEDs enable around 50-60% energy saving as compared to the conventional lighting technologies.”
Future is Brighter!
Considering the fact that India is bestowed with so many architectural marvels dating back to as far as 2000 BC, it is critical that these jewels of Indian history are restored to their original glory. Though time cannot be rewind, yet there is a lot that we can do. The way government and private players are coming together to revive and maintain these buildings, it is evident that tourism potential will grow by leaps and bounds. The step towards illumination of these buildings will boost the tourist inflow even further as the monuments that were out of reach for visitors after dark will now welcome them at all times.