Well, this is interesting: Google India has partnered Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to create 360-degree street view imagery of 100 prominent heritage sites to Google Maps, reports The Hindu Business Line. These heritage sites include Taj Mahal, Khajuraho, Qutab Minar and Ajanta & Ellora caves.

As per the partnership, Google will be taking panoramic 360 degree imagery of the sites approved by ASI and will be uploading the imagery to Google Earth, Google Maps and its World Wonders project. At the time of writing this article, Google offers street view imagery for Qutub Minar, with other monuments in the works. A Telegraph report says that Google India plans to upload imagery of 24 heritage sites in the first phase and cover all the 100 sites in the next six months.

Qutub Minar Street View

The report also mentions that ASI will be providing additional high resolution imagery of these monuments to Google and will be providing text for 3D images and the architectural floor plans of the monuments for Google’s World Wonder project.

This development leads to a really interesting situation wherein the central government is opposed towards allowing Google Street View in India while a government organization ASI has partnered Google to create awareness about various heritage sites in the country and thereby increase the footfalls at these sites through a similar service.

Google Maps v/s Indian Govt Timeline

May 2011: Google had extended its Street View project to India, by starting to collect 360-degree street level imagery in Bangalore. The company had told Medianama that it had taken a formal approval from the Bangalore Police traffic department for Google Street View and will be working with local authorities as Street View expands to other cities.

June 2011: Google was forced to stop collecting street level imagery in Bangalore after it received a letter from the Commissioner of Police. Assistant Commissioner of the Bangalore Police T Sunil had later said that Google had failed to get clearances from the Central Government, and Ministry of Defence. The company is yet to receive a clearance.

May 2012: Google launches a pilot of its Business Photos initiative, through which it took 360-degree pictures of business interiors with their permission and enabled businesses to upload it to Google places to offer an interactive virtual tour to its potential customers. Google noted these photos will also appear across various Google properties like Google Searches and Google Maps.

February 2013: Google officially launched Business Photos and mentioned the program has been launched in eight Indian cities beginning with Hyderabad and it plans to extend the program to 20 cities across the country this year. Some of the businesses that used Google Business Photos include Satya Paul (Hyderabad), Maayin (Hyderabad), Hard Rock Cafe (Pune), The Palace and others.

April 2013: Survey of India, the official survey and mapping organization in India, had filed a complaint against Google with the Delhi Police for hosting its Mapathon contest, which encouraged Indians to add information to India maps. R.P.N.Singh, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs was non-committal on why exactly the complaint was filed, except that the Mapathon was without permission. (Read: Why India’s Maps policy is regressive and bureaucratic)

July 2013: Google withheld the results of its Mapathon 2013 contest, since the company said that Survey Of India wanted to review the data added during the Mapathon for any sensitive information but the company is yet to hear from the organization.

August 2013: Survey Of India had asked the home ministry to take action against Google on its complaint. There seems to be no updates on this complaint since then.

September 2013: Google partnered Sula’s Vineyard Resort to add 360-degree street level imagery of the resort on Google Maps, thereby introducing Street View imagery for private properties.