Ever wanted your PC to turn into a time machine, able to take you centuries back and perhaps thousands of miles from your home? Thanks to a series of multimedia DVDs, developed by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (INGCA), following two-decade long research this is now possible. See the official site of the project.

INGCA has focussed on the Raja Raja Chola-built, 11th century Brhadisvara temple in Thanjavur for the first such DVD. The temple, built in 1010 AD, is a part of the UNESCO’s ‘Great Living Chola Temples’ World Heritage Site, has now been immortalised with the Tanjavur Brhadisvara Temple DVDs.

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh recently launched the DVD package and unveiled an accompanying exhibition at IGNCA. The exhibition displays selected paintings from the Chola period, architectural drawings and paper impressions of the inscription and is open to public till December 20.

The  Brhadisvara temple, built in 1010 AD (Image credit: INGCA)

The Brhadisvara temple, built in 1010 AD (Image credit: INGCA)

The interactive DVDs give you a tour of the temple right from the materials used to build it to the various artefacts housed within to the political, economic and social structure of 11th century Tanjavur. The multimedia documentation was conducted by the Cultural Informatics Laboratory (CIL), IGNCA’s multimedia research centre established with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) aid. The DVDs have been produced under a project titled “Strengthening National Facility for Interactive Multimedia Documentation of Cultural Resources.”

This magnificent monument had not been given due attention till now. We, however, have sought to bring the temple closer to masses by capturing its wonders and majesty using ultra-modern scientific tools to have its measured drawings with the help of computer and audio-visual techniques to present it in its totality,” says R Nagaswamy, the subject expert and project co-coordinator.

Nagaswamy explained the various aspects the team has to study, ranging from the temple’s floor plan to iconography to rituals and festivals. “For the first time, we have used scientific tools which have come into existence in modern times like measured drawings and audio-visual techniques. All these things are co-related for the first time to know the totality of the temple not just as a structure or a sculpture. The meaning of the structure on the whole has been co-related with the aid of multimedia technology and it is user-friendly,” he added.

There is a tremendous planning behind making of these DVDs and incorporating information on diverse aspects of the temple, including those on the contemporary social, political, economic and even judicial set,” Nagaswamy said.

The DVDs also depict the influence of the Pandyas, Nayaka and Maratha, who significantly contributed key additions to the temple after its establishment, without marring the original layout. Talking about the temple's documentation project, IGNCA (Multimedia) Director Pratapananda Jha says a total of 25 people worked on it. “We had divided the project into three major parts – content, domain expertise and technology. The domain expertise wise we had on our team people who could read Sanskrit for deciphering inscriptions, iconography experts and of course expert scholar like Kapila Vatsyayan and Dr R Nagaswamy who supervised the project,” said Jha.

With inputs from PTI