Archaeology department plans to provide immersive online experience

In a bid to provide an immersive online experience of monuments in the State and bring home their architectural splendour, the Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums is planning a virtual tour with 360 degree views of temples and other heritage monuments.

It will be akin to Google’s Street View project, but will be limited to monuments under the State Archaeology Department’s control. Work on a pilot project is under way at Melkote in Mandya district.

C.G. Bethsurmath, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, told The Hindu that people by now were familiar with the virtual tour of the Mysore palace, which was launched a couple of years ago. Hence, a virtual tour of important monuments that come under the department was being planned to help people appreciate the monuments and their architectural splendour better. This would not only enhance tourism potential, but also serve the cause of conservation as a virtual tour makes it possible to get a more immersive experience of the monuments, he said.

Once work on the pilot project at Melkote is completed it will be submitted to the higher authorities for final approval before being hosted on the department’s official website or the temple’s website. The monuments at Srirangapatna are next in line and the department plans to take it up soon.

The monuments at Melkote are being photographed and so far over 2,000 high-resolution photographs have been taken. The monuments being photographed for the project include the Raya Gopura, Akka Tangi Kola, Kalyani, Bhuvaneshwari Mantapa and the Narasimhaswamy temple atop the hillock.

Sanjay Ahuja of Software Guru, who is working on the project, said that apart from over 2,000 high-resolution digital images, they had enhanced the depth to give stereoscopic 3D images, while photos taken in sequence would be stitched using a software to give a panoramic view. But the icing on the cake is the use of a remote-controlled battery-operated drone fixed with a miniature camera to get aerial shots of the monuments.

There are plans to have audio commentary in both Kannada and English. The virtual tour is in keeping with the latest in technology being adapted to bring home the ethereal beauty of the monuments. The Mysore palace virtual tour — though not a product of the department — registered a high traffic, enhancing its popularity.

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