‘IHSE 2020’: The beginning of a new paradigm in digital documentation and interpretation of India’s rich cultural heritage

The collaborative projects between researchers in the areas of technology and humanities under the Indian Digital Heritage (IDH) project has brought alive country’s first ever public showcase of digital preservation work that has been undertaken in India using cutting edge AR, VR, MR and AI technologies. At National Museum, Delhi, a month-long (Jan 15-Feb 15) exhibition, “INDIAN HERITAGE IN DIGITAL SPACE”  is showcasing 3D fabricated models of 5 Indian monuments (including Kashi Vishwanath, Taj Mahal, Sun Temple Konark) with interactive Virtual walk-throughs and Projection Mapping, and a room-scale 3D model of a Hampi Temple, with AR, VR and Holographic interactions.
Prahlad Singh Patel with DST secretary Ashutosh Sharma

The first-ever International Heritage Symposium and Exhibition (IHSE) incorporating a month-long exhibition at the National Museum, Janpath, New Delhi, has brought communities engaged in conservation, preservation and management of world heritage in physical and digital space from diverse disciplines such as science, technology, culture and social sciences on one platform and is a visual treat. The ‘IHSE 2020’ has been developed around the frequently articulated need for preserving India’s rich cultural heritage digitally, for the future generations. 

IDH initiative of Department of Science & Technology gave birth to some of the most advanced techniques and technologies in digital heritage preservation, and DST motivated setting up of technology start-ups to translate this research into commercial products, one of them being Vizara Technologies Pvt Ltd, which is one of the main forces behind the IHSE 2020. Vizara Technologies, a start- up is using AR, VR, MR and AI technologies etc.

Jointly sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and  Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST), and organized by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, the two-day symposium on Jan 15-16 witnessed an interdisciplinary dialogue between scientists, academia, historians, social scientists, practitioners, musicologists, policymakers, allowing for adoption of best practices and technology to preserve world and India’s heritage.

According to Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, IHSE 2020 is the culmination of efforts in the field of digital preservation from last 5 years.  “We all know that the future is all about convergence of technology in all aspects of our life and this event is a step towards discussing some of the key issues that challenge us in preserving our heritage.”

The ‘INDIAN HERITAGE IN DIGITAL SPACE’ exhibition was inaugurated by union tourism minister, Prahlad Singh Patel on Jan 15, who also addressed the two-day international symposium. The minister also released two edited books on Digital Heritage, namely: “Digital Hampi: preserving Indian Cultural Heritage and “Heritage Preservation: A Computational Approach” 

 Prahlad Singh Patel said,“ The vast cultural diversity of India is the main attraction for tourists and we all are working together very hard to preserve and strengthen the country’s rich cultural heritage and to promote tourism. This initiative of integrating technology into heritage will make it accessible to literally everyone in the society and is a great initiative indeed.”

 Four panel sessions on  Performing Arts: Preserving the tradition (Intangible), Conservation Technologies in Art, Design and Archaeology, Understanding Traditional Engineering Systems for Future (Tangible) and Harnessing the Digital for the Museum Experience were part of the symposium.  

Dr. Anupama Malik, Organising Chair for IHSE & Managing Director, Vizara Technologies Pvt Ltd said, “IHSE is a recognition of the need for a meeting of the best minds globally to discuss ways of preserving India’s rich heritage digitally. This event has created an eco-system where all stakeholders working in the Digital and Cultural heritage domain, have come together to identify open issues in Indian heritage management”