Government of India has launched Sandhan, a search engine for tourism related queries in five Indian Languages including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu and Tamil.

According to the site, the search engine was developed by 120 researchers of 12 institutions over a period of 6 years and was led by Pushpak Bhattacharya under the supervision of Technology Development for Indian Languages at DEITY. Sandhan is a mission mode project of a consortium of academic and research institutions, and industry partners lead by IIT Bombay.

Features: The search engine lets users submit their query with the help of an in-script keyboard or allows users to submit query phonetically (transliteration). It offers an additional URL based semantic search facility for Tamil language. What’s interesting is that the search engine displays results in the same language as that of the query submitted, and the pages that it lists are also in the same language. The search engine also has an auto suggest feature where the search engine provides the user with suggestions upon entering the query. This feature was made widely popular by search engine giant, Google. On the search result page, Sandhan provides a summary of the search result page upon hovering on the result.

Our take: We tried the search engine by submitting various tourism related queries and we felt that the site did not return satisfactory results. For example, upon submitting a query on Darjeeling Hotels, the first ten results displayed by the search engine were blogs and Wikipedia entries and did not display relevant information what we required.

One thing that the search engine highlights is the absence of regional language content on travel portals. Apart from that, since the search engine only displays results for pages which are in the same language of the query, results from travel sites like Yatra.com, MakemyTrip.com gets excluded as the information on these sites is available only in English language. The search engine also highlights the need of a travel info portal like wikitravel.org in regional languages.

Another thing that might go against the search engine could be its URL. Currently the search engine resides at tdil-dc.in/sandhan, which is hard to remember. We hope that the search engine gets a domain that could be remembered easily, something like Sandhan.com.

Interestingly, Singapore based travel meta search engine Wego which had launched an India-specific portal, Wego India, offers an indic language interface 11 Indian languages including BengaliHindiGujaratiKannadaMalayalamMarathiOriyaPunjabi,Tamil and Telugu, and offers flight and hotel search.

Anupam Saxena also contributed to this post