Culture and Heritage

A new approach to preserve and promote Indian culture, Art, and heritage

A new and exciting collaboration between Ashwin Srivastav CEO of Sapio Analytics and Vedan Choolun, Chairman UITV Chairman-Ajantahc will finally reveal the full splendour of Indian art and culture to the wider world, and thereby lend a new perspective on these treasures which would have been considered virtually impossible until recent times.

Mumbai’s Advisory Company, Sapio Analytics, has developed a range of digital preservation techniques, often utilising cutting edge artificial intelligence, to protect, preserve and digitally restore Indian artworks, many of which date back thousands of years. Their brief includes highlighting and promoting the work of individuals in this specialist field, such as film-maker, photographer and art historian Benoy Behl, whose ground-breaking restoration work on the world-famous Ajanta cave paintings has allowed contemporary audiences to view these ancient images in their full glory.

Mr. Vedan Choolun and Mr. Ashwin Srivastav
Mr. Vedan Choolun and Mr. Ashwin Srivastav

Vedan Choolun and Ashwin Srivastav are dedicated in offering these unique cultural heritages to the global community.

UITV-Ajanta are full partners in this endeavour and have undertaken to assemble a task force which includes a number of famous artists and heritage and cultural photographers, including Mr.Benoy Behl.

This project will create a digital tableau of vibrant and fully restored Indian art and culture – art works of the highest quality. Based in Mayfair, London and Bengaluru, India, UITV-Ajanta are ideally placed to publicise this unique cultural collection, a virtual museum which can be accessed by an audience of 1.4 billion people both living inside India and beyond its borders.

It is now 29 years since Behl’s initial work on the Ajanta cave murals was first presented to the world via the pages of the renowned National Geographic magazine. His long, light-soaking photography exposure technique helped to bring out the full beauty of the ancient paintings at Ajanta and works sited in other previously inaccessible cave and temple locations. And with the passing of time, this dedicated explorer of the past has also exploited other technologies to enhance our understanding of such rare art forms.

This inspired 65-year-old has now succeeded in healing the ravages of time itself, as well as the damaging effects of earlier ‘restoration’ attempts, to reveal what those who first witnessed such murals would have seen shortly after those highly skilled ancient painters had finished their work. Using a non-destructive digital brush, Mr. Benoy Behl and his team worked on the Ajanta murals for five long years. Supported by artificial intelligence technologies, those digital tools have recreated missing sections, restored faded colours, and reversed the deterioration caused by centuries of dust, grime, and decay to restore the works as they were composed by the original artists.

Inspired by the artwork itself, Mr. Benoy Behl and his team have worked persistently and sympathetically at their task. Their reward has been to witness the gradual emergence of exquisite nuances once locked deep within these unique works: subtle shadings which serve to emphasise a roundness of form; fluttering scarves and curved strings of pearls which create the illusion of movement within a fixed medium; and characterful faces – such as that of the ‘Dark Princess’ with her carefully styled hair, eyes of a reddish-brown, and sparkling jeweled crown surrounded by the most beautiful floral displays.

The fruits of this early flowering of Indian art and culture can be observed throughout the whole of Asia. Not only do China and Japan have vast quantities of Buddhist paintings, but Cambodia, Laos and Thailand also house many renowned Buddhist temple sites. So UITV-Ajanta’s mission is to promote and exhibit a virtual gallery showcasing thousands of years of cultural artworks from all these countries – both to help the world learn more about this cultural legacy, and also to preserve it as a lasting contribution to humanity’s own great heritage.

To further such aims, copies of all new digital images and historical paintings gathered via the Sapio Analytics/ UITV-Ajanta initiative will also be stored in the Arctic World Archive. This cultural safe-storage vault, which also contains digital copies of relics such as the Bhagwad Gita itself, is located on a remote island within the Svarlbard archipelago, some 500 miles north of Norway. Supported by the Indian and Norwegian governments, as well as UNESCO and other world heritage organisations, this precious stronghold is designed to preserve the world’s rarest cultural treasures for at least a millennium.