BHUVAN – India’s Google Earth :)


On the eve of India’s 62nd INDEPENDENCE DAY, ISRO has dedicated to the people of the nation a new tool called ‘BHUVAN’ which means earth in Sanskrit. So what exactly is Bhuvan?? Bhuvan is India’s very own 3D mapping tool and it is one product truly made in India. It uses maps taken from Indian satellite and focuses on Indian sub-continent barring all sensitive locations such as military and nuclear installations.

It is believed that the ISRO’s latest earth mapping tool has more features than Google Earth. The new mapping service Bhuvan is a Sanskrit word of earth. It will allow users to have a closer look at any part of the subcontinent. Bhuvan will provide the pictures of objects as small as a car on the road to build three-dimensional map of the world via ISRO’s seven remote sensing satellites. The degree of resolution showcased is based on points of interest and popularity, but most of the Indian terrain is covered upto at least six meters of resolution with the least spatial resolution being 55 meters.

Imagine if you could count the lions in Gir or fishermen find concentration of fish in the sea, just by dragging a mouse on a computer screen. Yes you could do that with the help of this tool which is the addition to the numerous scientific innovations by SAC and is a satellite mapping tool, just like Google Earth or Wikimapia, but allows you to zoom far closer than the aerial view from a chopper. If Google Earth shows details upto 200 metres distance and Wikimapia upto 50 metres, Bhuvan will show images upto 10 metres, which means you can easily see details upto a three floor high building and also add information.

Announcing the launch of Bhuvan on Tuesday 12th August, an excited ISRO chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair said, “Bhuvan will use the data recorded by the Indian satellites only. The prototype of Bhuvan will be ready by the end of November and ISRO is hoping to officially launch the service by March next”. He also added that unlike the other two webmaps, Bhuvan will focus only on the Indian sub-continent.

“With Bhuvan we will be able to produce very local information which will be specific to only to our own country. This information available from this mapping system will be useful in addressing very local problems like floods, famines, infrastructure development, education and much more,” Nair said.

“The information on Bhuvan will be layer wise and the options of viewing filtered information will be available. Inputs from a lot of local players, like farmers, fishermen and likes who know the local area in and out, will also being integrated in Bhuvan. This is for the primary reason to make it of more use to the general public,” he said.

How does BHUVAN compare with GOOGLE EARTH??

Google Earth ……………………………………….Bhuvan

Zoom levels up to 200 mt                          Zoom levels up to 10 mt

Single layer information                             Multi-layer information

Images upgraded every 4 years             Images upgraded every year

No alternate viewing options                  Options of viewing on different dates

Uses international satellites                     Uses Indian satellites

Early setbacks

Within hours of its launch the Website crashed owing to heavy traffic which disappointed many enthusiastic people who were looking to try out this new tool.. Some were lucky enough to download the toolbar but many had to wait for 2 days before they could locate their homes or other hangouts on Bhuvan.

The Bhuvan toolbar can be downloaded from


Requirements for Windows

  • Operating System: Windows XP/Vista
  • CPU: Pentium 4 2.4GHz+ or AMD 2400xp+
  • System Memory (RAM): 512MB
  • Hard Disk: 2GB free space
  • Network Speed: 768 Kbits/sec
  • Graphics Card: 3D-capable with 32MB of VRAM
  • Screen: 1280×1024, “32-bit True Color”

Problems I faced with Bhuvan

  • The site is unresponsive most of the time (Hopefully this will be sorted out as days go by).
  • Its quite buggy as it gives out many runtime errors.
  • Right now Bhuvan can run only on windows system and is optimized for IE 6. Or higher. Please note that Firefox cannot be used.
  • In the current version, you will not be able to add your own data, however u can bookmark places.

The question to be asked is whether ISRO’s revolutionary earth mapping tool ‘Bhuvan’ can compete with Google Earth??? I guess it will be difficult in the immediate future but if the tool can be improved taking the suggestions of its users I am quite sure that it will give the Google Earth team a tough competition.


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