The rich history of the 2,000-year-old Ajanta caves near Aurangabad will soon get a hi-tech touch, thanks to IIT Bombay. Its ambitious multi-disciplinary project includes restoration of the architecture and sculptures of the UNESCO world heritage site, reconstruction of its paintings, and its development as a hot spot for tourists with the help of locals.
The Industrial Design Centre (IDC), one of IIT-B's most dynamic departments, is spearheading the project along with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Data collection and research work began a month ago.
There are around 30 rock-cut caves in Ajanta dating from the 2nd century BC to around 480 AD. Touted as the finest surviving examples of Indian art and painting, the caves will also exhibit classical texts on aesthetics and art like the Vishnudharmottara Purana, estimated to have been compiled around the 7th century AD.
Prof BK Chakravarthy, IDC head and coordinator of the project, told dna, "The project demands the involvement of the Earth sciences, geo-informatics and civil engineering which can look into the geographical structure of the caves. Chemical engineers will be needed to minimise the deterioration of colours, and digital technology will be required for archiving and reconstruction of the paintings, sculptures and architecture."
The IDC team will also create a knowledge database on the caves for tourists, students and professionals.
The phase-wise project will also incorporate the local communities and the arts and crafts tradition of the region. To woo tourists, a palki has been designed to ferry them to the caves.
The seed fund for the project has been provided by the ministry of human resource development. However, the total cost of the project is yet to be finalised. "While the Centre will fund a major chunk, we will rope in a few corporate partners to share the cost," said Prof Chakravarthy.
The team hopes to wrap up the project in 3 years. Ultimately, they aim to bring all Buddhist, Jain and Hindu caves across the state, like Bhaja, Kondane, Pitalkhora, Nashik, Ellora and Elephanta, under one ambit.
IDC wants to tech up Mumbai too
The IDC is also working on a Mumbai Transformation project, aimed at making life easier for its residents. This includes modification of bus shelters with water fountains and stink-free bio-toilets, cycle lanes, barrier-free footpaths, a public information system, etc. It wants to help the BMC bring transparency and ease in citizen services.