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Kumistavi (Tshaltubskaya) Show Cave in Georgia

The history of Kumistavi Cave

Kumistavi Cave is situated 5 km to the North West of Tshaltubo city (Georgia). The cave was discovered and explored by Georgian speleologists at the beginning of 1980s. It is a part of a big cave system which is united by the same underground river. Nowadays approximately 30 km of the rivers have been explored, which is presumably half the length of the whole cave system. Jumber and Amiran Jamrishvilli conducted pioneer research.
In 1985 it was decided to equip part of the cave be as a show object. By 1989 the first show route was laid on, it was a little longer than one kilometer. Stairs and paths were built, a 150 meter tunnel was broken through at the entrance and above ground construction of buildings began. The cave was equipped with the modern lighting and there were even small groups of tourists invited.
In 1990 the cave show project had to be closed due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the lack of money.

In 2007, seventeen years after the project had been closed, the Georgian authorities once again began working on the equipment at the show cave not far from Tshaltubo. In March 2007 the show caves managers from France and ISCA и ANECAT members, Andre David, Alain Frances and Guilhem de Gruly were invited. The goals of the visit were to evaluate the condition of the cave as a show object, to define the amount of work to be done to fulfill the project and to exchange experience on new technologies and the use of materials in caves. French specialists made a complex report and enumerated the recommendations of the show object equipment. Even at that time the French specialists insistently recommended to use the low voltage LED lighting and fiberglass constructions in the cave. Then there was a 1.5 year break…

The beginning of the project

In December 2008 the representatives of the Georgian officials working on the Tshaltubo show cave equipment project contacted us. They had a very specific question. They wanted to know an approximate budget and the recommendations of the specific technical means to fulfill the project. We received quite complete information about the planned show route with the detailed descriptions of the chambers and the requests of the potential ordering customer about the lighting and music equipment of the cave. Many French specialists’ requests from the specifications were taken into consideration. Moreover, more than once there was mentioned the necessity to use power saving and ecologically compatible equipment. Nevertheless, the preliminary project work was done `blind`, because we didn’t know the object. We could only rely on the description and the plans sent to us.
In 2009 there were two more trips to Georgia, which allowed us to make a complex evaluation of the cave, and to define the optimal amount of the necessary equipment, both lighting and music. We also discussed the stages of the project work together with the ordering customer.
In January 2010 we drew the contract with ATU Corporation, which is carrying out the work on the project.

A.Chrapko interview to the Georgian television and radio company IMEDI.

May 2010. Current Project status

The work on above-ground structures and communications is almost complete. Over the last year the buildings were finished, which had been begun in 1989. The power supply line was laid to the cave, and roads from Tshaltubo to the exit and entrance of the cave were built. The paths and stairs in the tunnels of the cave were built too.

In February 2010 the Cave Lighting project was at the stage of drafting the power supply system, lighting, light music accompaniment and monitoring. According to the customer’s specifications there are 15 tourists show sectors. Each of them will have a thematic presentation during an excursion and will have to be equipped with special dynamic lighting. The zones between the sectors will have to be lit with static lighting. In 5 sectors, in addition to dynamic lighting, there will be integrated asynchronic music accompaniment. There will be a tremendous musical light show in the large chamber at the river bed. The DMX 512 controlled luminaires with mixed colors will be used in this show. All these components, including lighting fixtures of different kinds, MP3 players, control lighting and music are all part of the light and music system, which was designed by the specialists of the project.
Monitoring elements will be also integrated into the system. They will control the level of water in the cave sectors subject to flooding, collect information about water temperature, air temperature, air humidity, etc. This data will be transferred via a joint interface to the operator’s room.
Due to the large size and length of the cave there will be a common 380V power supply. It will provide power to 7 switch boxes. 220V power will be provided from these boxes to 20 transformers which will then feed power to 15 sectors of the cave. 24VAC low voltage will be provided to the zones between the sectors. So, the whole cave illumination will be low voltage only with the decentralized power supply and interface.
Lighting, music and light shows will be performed by button controllers and radio pilots. The main color of the cave is cold white. It emphasizes the characteristics of the cave. In some places red and warm white color will be used.

What is presently going on at the cave:

Alexander Chrapko, Cave Lighting Project manager.