Offering a detailed virtual museum tour, the app TheRamayana.com, is a modern way to explore the epic
Amid these housebound times, how about having a virtual museum tour of The Ramayana? Founded by Bhuwan Arora, the app TheRamayana.com with its collection of comprehensive and illustrated guides gives multiple filters to select the stories.
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Twenty-five students across India have worked on this project, says Bhuwan, adding, “Instead of proceeding through a traditional narrative, the app gives users freedom to explore stories from unconventional and different narratives which can be further explored with tags and be engulfed in this universe of Ramayana.”
It all started with the re-telecast of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana on Doordarshan. Bhuwan, who shifted from Bengaluru to Faridabad to be with his family during the lockdown saw his father glued to television. He was amazed to see lakhs of queries on Google related to the epic. “I realised the epic’s huge demand and market especially in vernacular languages and wanted to create a product that is appealing and easy to consume even for those who cannot read,” he states adding they used Google Translate and manually rectified errors.
For all things AI
- Bengaluru-based Bhuwan Arora, an alumni of IIT Delhi and founder of The Mind Network, explains his ideology as ‘roots’ and wants to create mind-morphing AI (Artificial Intelligence) that can take decisions. He says, “I want to replicate human intelligence and see how the mind works by understanding its cognitive architecture and different fundamentals such as consciousness, logic and memory. I want to get to the roots of it.”
Brinda Singh, head of content research team, reached out to college students through social media. “Since the colleges were shut due to the lockdown, many students were looking for internships. I could see an opportunity and roped in talented freshers interested to work on this idea,” Bhuwan explains.
The team stuck to the Valmiki and Tulsidas Ramayana and guidelines were formulated; eight students researched the locations, the places mentioned in The Ramayana; different maps available online were searched and the team created their own Google Maps to show its historical significance and how the place looks now. “Hampi is Kishkinda, the kingdom of the Vanara King Sugriva, Dandakarnya Forest (Rama passed through it in search of Sita) is Chattisgarh. Ayodhya is the upper region of Uttar Pradesh in ancient India. We also had to map according to the seven Kandas and ensure no story is missed out,” informs Bhuwan.
The perspective poll to different stories was added to challenge the user’s viewpoint on the story. The short stories with only 70 to 80 words (two minutes) are crisp and informative. The audio was created by students with theatre experience in college plays. “We have added no emotions or interpretations to what has happened. It is up to the reader to interpret and take the story the way they want,” adds Bhuwan.
The app was launched on July 20 after a month of its beta launch; it has crossed 850 downloads across iOS and Android till August 21. Says Bhuwan, “Our focus was to create a deep learning model which understands human values and keep it unbiased.”
TheRamayana.com is available for Android. The iOS version costs ₹299 while the Android version is free with in-app purchases.