Why slouch, when digital excursions allow you to journey from sofa

Ayandrali Dutta

Sneha Sharma, a Delhi-based marketing manager, had been looking forward to a vacation but with increasing Covid-19 cases and lockdown norms, she couldn’t afford to step out. “Thanks to virtual travel, I could visit many of my favourite places in the city when practically moving out was not possible. It was an amazing 360º view experience. I could never take out time to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan but the virtual tour made it possible.”

From Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, Akshardham, Lotus Temple, Rail museum in India to Machu Picchu and Acropolis abroad, multimedia 3D technology has brought each of these places to the comfort of our homes. While this travel is not physical, there’s charm in virtually exploring the monuments of the world. With lockdown all around and nothing much to do, these virtual tours are a great way to spend some quality time at home. Many museums, national parks, and other attractions are offering these free virtual tours to quench your thirst for travel.

Since the onset of the pandemic, virtual tours have taken a whole new meaning. Unlike physical tours, these tours let the user experience a landmark location with the help of images, videos or other multimedia. All that is needed for a realistic first-hand experience is a good WiFi connection.

The interesting aspect about the 360º photo tour is that most of these monuments are mapped on Google Streetview, which provides almost a realistic feel to what the monument would normally look like, complete with crowds. The Delhi and Mumbai virtual tours take one through the famous city landmarks and you almost feel as if walking through the crowds.

Sangamitra Chowdhary, an IT profession from Virginia, took respite in virtual tours to enjoy some of the places she always wanted to visit. “After taking care of home and office, I would feel trapped inside the four walls with nothing much to do, all the more since I was not able to pack my bag and travel. It was while talking to a friend that she suggested me to go in for virtual tours. As I googled for these, I got many options and immediately booked a ‘visit’ to the Louvre and Eiffel tower. That multimedia world was almost like a real vacation without costing me anything,” adds Chowdhary.

With the Guggenheim Virtual Tour, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Virtual Tour, Disney World Virtual Tour, the Legoland Hotel Virtual Tour, Eiffel Tower Virtual Tour and more topping the list, there’s no dearth of options. Also with Google Arts & Culture having teamed up with more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world, the whole experience of virtual tour has simply come in the luxury of your living room.

The excitement just doesn’t end here. Google & NASA’s Access Mars gives a chance to take a trip that’s out of this world — to Mars. NASA has partnered with Google for this 3D replica tour of the Martian surface.

Though nothing can replace the charm of travelling physically, but till the time the world doesn’t get safe of virus and opens for travel, these virtual tours come in handy. And the incentive is that most of these tours are free of cost. With technology reducing the distance each day, let’s not bother about booking an air ticket, getting a visa or even about the expenditure. Let’s travel from our couch.

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