Going back with the future
A few organisations are using digital means to help children revisit our heritage
India’s rich cultural heritage is an amalgamation of artistic treasures, age-old traditions, vibrant dances, and varied cultures. Together, these give rise to a legacy that goes back thousands of years. However, with COVID-19, we have experienced an immense distance, both physical and intellectual, to sites of cultural importance. While this might not be a cause for concern for most of us, there is a possibility that the next generation might feel disconnected with their history over time. On the last day of World Heritage Week, we assess the many alternative measures available for children to explore their heritage.
Advent of digital walks
From touring sites of historical importance to traversing gardens and forests, most Delhiites are smitten with the idea of walks. City walks have the potential to help one experience a space while simultaneously gaining information about the site’s history and cultural value. Keeping this in mind, various organisations across Delhi-NCR have started organising walks for children so as to familiarise them with the heritage value of various sites as well as monuments.
Since the pandemic, a number of walks are being conducted digitally. Talking about the scope of these digital walks in helping children build a connection with history, Swapna Liddle, a historian from Delhi, explains, “Digital technologies can enable an online form of the heritage walk, suitable for the virtual classroom. This is an illustrated talk by an expert, who can incorporate photographs and videos of a site along with other resources such as archival images to make its history and heritage come alive remotely.”
AR to the rescue
Internationally, governments are increasingly adopting virtual mediums such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to promote tourism. While AR offers an enhanced experience of the real world, VR extends a complete immersion in the virtual space. Both these technologies can support traditional tours and create extensive exploration methods of heritage sites for children.
In India, platforms like Augtraveler use AR to help tourists explore cultural heritage. For children, they combine this technology with multidisciplinary activity books to build an interactive insight of heritage sites. “When kids go to visit a heritage site these days, it is more like an Instagram opportunity because of the lack of authentic interpretation of the site. It is important to evolve heritage sites as knowledge dissemination zones. For the same, we have co-created these books; these can be utilised with the application,” shares Pankaj Manchanda, founder of Augtraveler.