Could virtual travel be a solution for our wanderlust during coronavirus pandemic?
With the travel ban being imposed all around the world, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many art and heritage sites in India have resorted to virtual tours. From using 360 degree panoramic views to holding online sessions, it helps viewers enjoy beautiful locations digitally and experience the joy of travelling from comfort of the house.
Purav Shah, founder of QuaQua, a virtual travel company says, “Virtual travelling is a very responsible way to connect with the world. It’s not possible to travel each and every place in our lifetime, so we show such places in 360 degrees in virtual reality to people.” He adds, “The basic idea of it is that people get to consume visual content of a destination before visiting it.”
Travelling should be about fulfilling desires. Shah adds, “Even though we all have travel constraints, we can explore the world. Our content is very real. For example, many people would love to visit Venice but have preference over day and night. So, through virtual travelling from our website, they have a choice to travel there any time of the day, sitting at their homes.” The recent ban on travel has led to a surge on the company’s platform.
Dekho Apna Desh
Given the current crisis, India’s Ministry of Tourism recently launched an initiative that allows people to explore the depth and expanse of the culture and heritage of Incredible India, virtually. Named “Dekho Apna Desh” or “See Your Country”, it is a series of webinars that hosts sessions on different cities of India to highlight their tourist attractions, history and culture.
Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry Of Tourism, Government of India, says, “The idea came to us because we saw how people have been using technology a lot these days. So we thought about curating and showcasing the beautiful destinations of India that people can travel to from home. India is so diverse that there would be so many places Indians have not travelled to. We are trying to build a narrative around the various experiences of India and make the country accessible to everyone.”
For the love of art
While some of the finest museums globally have always had some virtual tours online, most of the museums and art galleries in India have also taken the route. Some of them which are a click away are National Museum, New Delhi, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad and Victoria Memorial, Kolkata among others. From online exhibitions showcasing some rare sculptures, manuscripts and inscriptions to detailed descriptions, it has it all.
Tour operator Aditya Goswami says, “Even though virtual travelling is a good alternative but the experience is not as fulfilling as being physically present. However, it’s a good way to provide information to the people in the current situation.”
Famous landmarks on your fingertips
India has a wealth of heritage sites and iconic historical monuments. Some of them are offering 3D experiences of a virtual walk-through. In Delhi tourist hotspots like India Gate, Mughal Gardens, Red Fort, Akshardham Temple, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar among others, are just a click away, available at their websites. Even the state of Rajasthan, a popular tourist attraction with domestic and international travellers has curated virtual experiences around its monuments, cities, wildlife and culture, available for free on their government’s website. The interactive digital pathways of Taj Mahal include routes around the mausoleum, reflecting pool, the gardens and ornate red sandstone mosque.
Exploring the city of dreams – Mumbai is also easy now, thanks to virtual tours. From the famous The Gateway Of India displaying the grandeur of Indo-Saracenic architecture and Chhatrapati Maharaj Shivaji Terminus with its remarkable stone dome, turrets and pointed arches to an exquisitely sculpted structure of Flora Fountain among others, the city offers a treat to the eyes virtually.
Tour guide Ashish Chandoskar says, “Mumbai indeed is beautiful and this is true from the aerial views of the city’s monuments shown online. Earlier, it used to be so crowded but now you can easily sit at home and browse the famous places here. The camera clarity is also perfect it makes you feel you are standing there.”
And if that’s not enough, Bambiayya VR, a virtual reality drive-in taxi takes you on a digital tour of Mumbai where iconic places of the city from the Iranian café to the chawls – have been depicted through illustrations.
Unwind and connect to nature
Hopping into the virtual bandwagon are some wildlife parks as well. Gawk at cuddly pandas from Wolong Valley in China, or enjoy watching the orcas gracefully playing, online. In India, Vandalur zoo, Chennai is doing online streaming of animals for free on their website.
A space quest
If you are tired of travelling in the land (virtually), why not explore the space? No kidding, NASA is offering multiple virtual tours and activities through their website. Take this chance to explore NASA’s various space centres on earth, the famous Hubble Control Centre and NASA’s flying observatory called SOFIA.
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