Thanks to a series of multi-media DVDs, developed by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (INGCA), following a two-decade long research and use of ultra modern scientific tool and techniques, the imagination has turned into a virtual reality.

Developed by INGCA in a unique endeavour and use of information and communication tools, the DVDs have revived and rejuvenated the Raja Raja Chola-built, 11th century temple, also forming part of the Unesco World Heritage Site 'Great Living Chola Temples,' in its full glory and grandeur.

Having captured and encased the majestic temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the DVDs have sought to bring the treasure trove of India's rich cultural heritage not only closer to the present masses but has also succeeded in preserving it for the posterity.

The interactive DVDs capture the wonders of the temple in their totality. They have encased not merely the synergy among the architecture, sculptures, paintings, bronze images and the idols of the temple, but have gone to the extent of incorporating information on many other aspect of the period, including those on politics, economics and judicial system.

The multi-media documentation of this temple has been done by the cultural Informatics Laboratory (CIL), a multimedia Research Centre established in IGNCA with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) aid. The DVDs were made 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 explains the seven DVDs, made by INGCA, detail various aspects of the temple ranging from its 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," says Nagaswamy.
Besides, he says, having various mathematical calculations, used in building the temple, the DVDs titled "Tanjavur Brhadisvara Temple" also have intricate details like the influence of the Pandyas, Nayaka and Maratha, who significantly contributed key additions to the temple without marring the original lay out.
"One can click on whatever aspect one wants to know and view it. It will give you all the information of that particular period. This is user-friendly for students, scholars, teachers and educational institutions. And we have also published in a small booklet certain drawings which were never published," says Nagaswamy.
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," says Jha.
Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh recently launched the DVD and unveiled an accompanying exhibition at IGNCA.  The exhibition also displays selected paintings from the Chola period, architectural drawings and paper impressions of the inscription and is open to public from December 7 to 20.
The exhibition is also designed in a very interesting way at Mati Ghar on lines of the floor map of the main Brhadisvara temple starting first with the architectural explanation and at the core or the Garbhagriha giving the feel of the real temple. The exhibition ends with the presentation of the interactive DVD.


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