Vandana Shukla, Tribune News Service
Anandpur Sahib, November 23. As it awaits to be inaugurated on Friday, the Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex today provided a spectacular and breathtaking preview.
The Boston-based designer of the complex, architect and urban planner Moshe Safdie, who is known for creating the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, has already arrived for the inauguration and so has Bobby Bedi, the filmmaker who has contributed audiovisuals. The first phase of the complex has taken 13 years and approximately Rs 360 crore to complete.
The classy complex, which is expected to draw international attention, has come up in rugged surroundings but water bodies of extraordinary beauty, which reflect the surrounding hillocks, lend the complex an astonishing degree of serenity. Said to be the largest contemporary heritage complex ever conceived in India, it provides a delightful audio-visual experience unlike anything one has seen in Indian museums.
The Boat Building of the complex houses the largest hand-painted mural in the world, which uses a staggering 24,000 metres of fibre optics to illuminate it to depict Diwali.
The complex deals with the evolution of the Sikh religion, from the birth of Guru Nanak to the establishment of the Granth Sahib as the last Guru. Only 15 out of the 25 galleries planned, however, will be thrown open to the public. The 15 galleries cover 650,000 square feet.
The Boat Building, named because of its shape, provides an awesome panaromic vision of daily life in Punjab. With the help of sound, music and other visual manipulations, the entire cycle of a year is recreated within a span of just eight minutes. The vibrant colours then give way to a subdued, star studded night with a tower of light at the centre, which symbolises the emergence of ‘Ek Onkar’, illuminated, pure and eternal. From here begins the journey of the evolution of the Panth with the birth of Guru Nanak Dev.
For the remaining galleries, visitors can opt for audio commentary in Punjabi, Hindi or English, rendered by Divya Dutta, Surjeet Pattar and Kabeer Bedi respectively. The first five galleries depict the spiritual aspects of the Panth by making use of research material, stories and technology.
Amar Behl has made use of Phulkari, miniature art, puppets from Andhra Pradesh, durris from Mirzapur and embroideries and applique work from Chamba while Bobby Bedi has created the animation films on the birth of Guru Nanak Dev, the siege of Anandpur Sahib and the Harmandir Sahib.
In the ‘Five Crescent Building’, the tone and tenor of the colours and sound becomes more militant and depict the struggle and sacrifices made by the last five Gurus to establish the Panth. The second phase of the complex, for which work is still going on, is expected to show the growth of Khalsa over the last 300 years, culminating in the partition of the country.