The Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) has a worldwide network of mandirs (temples), with the crown jewel being the Swaminaryan Akshardham, created by over 11,000 artisans and volunteers.
The temple recently added loudspeakers from Renkus-Heinz to support the water and light performance.
The fountains at Akshardham, known as “Sahaj-Anand” (“Subtle Bliss” or “Eternal Bliss”), are one of the temple’s main attractions.
Built upon the design of the region’s grand traditional step-wells, it measures 300 x 300 feet, with 2,870 steps and 108 small shrines.
The arena surrounding the fountains seats around 3500 guests, who are treated nightly to a beautifully orchestrated multimedia performance that takes visitors on an informative and inspiring journey using an ancient scriptural story to highlight the moral values inspired by Hindu.
The show features an interplay of water, fire, lasers and lights, video projection, narration, and music, including a surround sound system employing a range of Renkus-Heinz loudspeakers.
Created by BAPS’ own design team, the system’s audio is comprised of 20 VARIA VAX101-15 and VAX101-22 modular point source line arrays, along with 20 STX-LA/9W line array loudspeakers. Low frequency reinforcement is handled by 20 CFX15S and 12 DRS18-2B subwoofers.
As BAPS’ Vipul Vaghela explains, the arena’s configuration is anything but typical, and sound system design presented a number of unique challenges. “The arena is a step well, and the seating rakes downward from the back row, with the fountain located in the center and below ground level,” says Vaghela. “Sound sources are located both at the fountain, and at the projection wall, and both of these primary sound sources must be in sync.”
Reflected sound was another issue to contend with. “The show requires a rather elaborate surround sound experience, and the stone walls of many of the adjacent buildings created a major challenge in keeping reflected sound to a minimum,” Vaghela observes.
This confluence of technical issues was instrumental in BAPS engineering team’s decision to go with Renkus-Heinz technology.
“We have worked with Renkus-Heinz on similar projects in the past, with excellent results, and we were confident that their technology was ideally suited for this type of a challenge” says Vaghela. “Their VARIA technology enabled us to design a system that would provide very precise coverage to only the audience areas, while minimizing the sound to areas that would generate problematic reflections.”
Vaghela also gives high marks to the support provided by the Renkus-Heinz engineering team. “It was in the design phase where Renkus-Heinz really came through, providing us with support not only in designing the system, but in tuning and commissioning as well. It was truly a pleasure working with them.”
Since opening in November 2014, the Fountains at Akshardham have educated and entertained guests from all over the world, delivering sights and sounds that create a uniquely moving experience.