On Thursday, Google and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, announced that people around the world will be able to take virtual tours of Indian cultural sites like the Ellora Caves, and explore over 1,400 cultural objects from India at the Google Cultural Institute site.
With support from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Google has added 76 new sites - increasing the number of ASI sites being covered to over 100, including sites like Safdarjung Tomb and Purana Quila.
Aside from the heritage sites, exhibits at institutions like the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage have also been photographed as a part of this project, and will be available online soon, along with the already-mapped institutions such as the National Gallery of Modern Art.
"With the release of this set of panoramic images, we aim to create a dynamic, immersive online experience by which people within India and around the world can appreciate more of India's diverse cultural heritage," said Union Minister of Culture Shripad Naik.
"Google is deeply committed to helping preserve and showcase cultural heritage across the world, and it has been our privilege to work with the ASI and these partners to bring such diverse aspects of India's culture online," said Rajan Anandan, Vice President and Managing Director, Google India.
Earlier this year, in February, Google had launched 360-degree views of 100 Indian Heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal and the Qutub Minar. This imagery was captured using the Street View Trekker, introduced in 2012, which is a Street View camera platform with 15 cameras on board that capture a 360-degree view of the area around. It is mounted on a wearable backpack and the whole unit weighs around 20 kilograms. The operator walks through pedestrian routes, and the entire rig is designed to reach places that can be accessed by foot.
Google had brought their World Wonders project to India in October last year, after their Street View mapping was halted in 2011, owing to security concerns. More recently, Google Maps was also in the news because its crowdsourced mapping initiative - Mapathon - has come under the CBI scanner for possible security violations.