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Google to bring India's top heritage sites online

Technology giant Google Thursday tied up with the government and the Archaeological Survey of India to bring online the country's major heritage sites like the Taj Mahal, Khajuraho and the Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Vice president and managing director of Google India Rajan Anandan said the initial target is to cover the country's 100 most important heritage sites.

According to the plan, Google will create 360-degree online imagery that will be available on Google Maps and also on the World Wonders site.

Google signed a memorandum of understanding with the ministry of culture and the Archaeological Survey of India.

Anandan said the initiative would make more of India's heritage accessible to people around the world, and help to preserve the country's unique history for generations to come.

"In a country like India, where we have the world's second largest population and 5,000 years of history and rich cultural diversity, technology can help us share the Indian experience with the rest of the world and with each other more effectively than ever before," Anandan said.

However, Google did not disclose the required investments and timeframe for making the planned sites available online.

Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch launched the project at an event organised here.

Speaking at the event, Katoch said the aim of the collaboration was to generate interest and consciousness among the Indian population in general and the youth in particular towards safeguarding the national cultural heritage of India.

The minister expressed the hope that under this project the experience of visiting heritage sites across a vibrant nation would be more accessible and enjoyable and also bring it to the notice of billions of people connected globally via internet.

There are 3,678 monuments declared as "protected" by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), of which 20 are World Heritage sites.

Recently six forts of Rajasthan were declared as World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) under serial nomination as "Hill forts of Rajasthan."

"We have always embraced technology and we believe that the new panoramic imagery of 100 Indian monuments will not only allow people to interact with our country's culture in new ways but also digitally preserve India's heritage for future generation," said ASI director general Pravin Srivastava.