Varansi Amber to nilamber

Kashi Vishwanath Dham

Kashi Vishwanath Dham

Religious architecture
Façade | Interior | Landscape
Varansi, india
Umang shah ©HCPDPM
Vis a vis

Pillar of Light

Varanasi is also known as Kashi. The word Kashi itself means a “Pillar of Light”. Hence the concept of Light pillar using the Xenon search lights came into place in the main movement corridor that connects the temple and the holy river Ganga. In order to get the proper visibility from far and have a substantial volume a cluster of luminaires was proposed. Cluster arrangement is such that there is only minimum space required between the fixtures is kept for the maintenance and air circulation. A safe location in the North west corner of the temple in the main movement axis was chosen to have the pillar of light as a beacon by night. The structure housing the luminaires is designed such that it looks simple, integrates well with surrounding, separate the people and luminaires for the reason of safety and vandalism prevention by people and monkeys and is easily serviceable. Austerity of ascetic Shiva is reflecting every where in the campus including this structure. For energy conservation and ecological reasons the lights are turned at the change of hour for 15mins only and especially during the prayers and festivity times.

From the onset our vision was to provide a spiritual and calming atmosphere which befits the meditation and provide a remarkable concept to connect the holy river with the important temple. Lord Shiva (who is main deity at the temple) is also known as the Nilkanth, the one who has blue throat, as he held the poison, Visha, of the fiercest Kind Cobra and the river Ganga is always remembered by night with its oil Lamps floating in the river or flanked along the steps of the ghats. Hence, we used this religious and social association to build a concept of street lighting and façade lighting color changing From Amber to Nilamber. This gradual transition of color (from Amber to Blue) would act as a cue to the proximity to both ends. All the smaller shrines are lit with Amber color mark them as old special structure in the same flame type light. Thus, color in a way sets the master planning hierarchy.

Avatars: Incarnations of Lord Shiva

In between the main Vishwanath temple and the ghats there are various buildings who are adorned with the image projections of the various Avatars/ incarnations of Lord Shiva. Images are prepared by renowned Ganjifa (worship playing cards) painter who specially for this project was commissioned to prepare the artwork of Shiva’s 19 Avatars/ incarnations. As part of the redevelopment programme, the old temple, three ghats (stepped embarkments of Lalita, Jalasen and Manikarnika) its surrounding area were restored and more convenient new buildings supporting the temple and pilgrim were added on both sides of the corridor that leads to the river. The restored ghat walls are embedded with the fiber optics integrated in the custom stone niches. Niches are formed in the shape resembling to Jyot/flame. And it gently flickers like the flame in the river wind. These fiber optic lights were to be turned on during the late nights and at the time od prayer aarti. Other wise the walls are washed with inground uplighters to discreetly light the ghat walls. Both lights look remarkable from the river. There are stone pavilions, steps and promenade whose dome, carved stone brackets and overhangs are also discreetly lit to celebrate the architectural beauty of the riverbank.
Tourist and pilgrims do nauka vihar or boat rides to admire the city of ghats, Kashi. There are carefully placed custom poles on the ghat which acts as deep stambha/ pillars of light and provides general lighting to the steps.

Thus the devotee bathed in the river water walks through the corridor, admiring the avatars of the lord and the new facilities and restored old temples reaches the large court in front of the temple. The court facades are lit with the discreet wall grazers. In the time of the events and large gathering the floating like downlights light the centre of the plaza. Letting the ground clear of any obstructions. The lights are suspended with custom catenary structure and are very minimal in look. From here one can see the temple precinct wall in Nila or blue color. Once one crosses the gate one riches in the inner court with main temples. Arcade around the main temple are lit with chajja/ overhang integrated downlights and inground uplighters that washes the wash and highlights the beautiful stone arch. The temple dome and Shikhar cladded with the Gold are lit with masked gobo projectors to prevent any light pollution in the immediate neighbourhood.

Ascending the Holy Path: A Spiritual Journey from Ganga to Vishwanath

Thus, is the spiritual journey crafted between the Holy river Ganga and the sky tall Lord of the lords and world Vishwanath ; though the lighting design that uses amber lights of the diyas/ burning pyres of the ghats and the special blue of the sky tall Lord Vishwanath. It thus connects the two rasa/ tastes of calm and vibrant with an eventful journey of discovering, remembering and celebrating the rich culture of holy city of Varanasi.