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Google, ASI usher in ‘digital tourism’ in India

Google, ASI usher in ‘digital tourism’ in India
After bringing iconic global landmarks like France's Eiffel Tower, America's Grand Canyon and Japan's Mt Fuji, among others, alive on the Internet through its immersive 'visual walkthroughs', Google has now commenced work on putting 100 major Indian monuments and sites in that league.

Once completed, architectural icons like the Taj Mahal, Humayun's Tomb, and heritage wonders such as Khujuraho, and Ajanta and Ellora Caves, among others, will 'visually explode' on the Internet in a '360-degree panoramic imagery'.

'We wanted enhanced and an active experience for our (virtual) visitors and not just mere passive viewing of the sites. And, that's why we want to partner with agencies like the ASI, UNESCO, World Monuments Fund to source authoritative content - current and archival to enrich user's experience,' Google Cultural Institute Director Amit Sood told PTI.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the Ministry of Culture has prepared a 'tentative list' of the 100 monuments and Google would keep on executing them, 'as and when the names get cleared.'

At the launch, a preliminary walkthrough of Qutub Minar was shown, and a Google employee also gave a demo of the 'Street View Trekker' by walking on the manicured lawns, with the gadget strapped to his back.

Google India said it saw the opportunity as a happy marriage between '5,000 years of Indian history and 20 years of internet history' and an opportunity for 'digital preservation' of collective heritage.

Vice-President and Managing Director of Google India, Rajan Anandan, said, 'We see this as an opportunity to make these monuments accessible to people in the far-flung areas of the country at the click of a button and to digitally preserve the heritage for posterity.

'With this, rural India can see and experience heritage online despite time and distance constraints. Information is transforming our future and with this we seek to bring more Indians on the Internet.' Sood added that 'we were excited to partner with ASI' which has 'cultural and archival wealth' at their disposal.

Google India and Ministry of Culture had earlier partnered on the creation of virtual walkthroughs for the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and the National Museum in the Capital.
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