Revived by AI, Ajanta cave painting’s ‘future-leap’ on Svalbard Isle


By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, April 17 |
When India was grappling with the Covid-19 crest in mid-2020, an ancient treasure of Maharashtra was quietly catapulted into the ‘future world history’, but the epochal event went virtually unnoticed in the country.

Maharashtra’s famed Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, became the first-ever UNESCO World Heritage Site to ‘virtually enter’ the Arctic World Archives (AWA) on Norway’s Svalbard Island, in November 2020.

The iconic “Renunciation of King Mahajanaka” – an early ‘avatar’ of Lord Buddha – in Cave No 1, clicked by renowned photographer Benoy K. Behl, became the trend-setter art-work to enter AWA, in a specially-designed digital film format using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a reference to the Svalbard Isle distinction in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ (Nov 2020) but it largely skipped public attention.

The AWA honour was possible by the efforts of two companies – Sapio Analytics, Mumbai and Ajantahc, London, IITs, several Indian universities, besides the pictures clicked by Behl using a new ‘zero-light technology’.

“There are roughly 650 sq mts (or, 10,00,000 sq. in.) of paintings in 30 caves, with four caves considered ground-breaking in terms of their artistic value at Ajanta,” Sapio Analytics’s CEO Ashwin Srivastava told IANS.

Ajantahc’s Director B.V. Choolun said that of these barely 10 sq mts (or, 16,000 sq. in.) have so far been restored using AI-aided digital methods.

Srivastava said that continuous efforts are on to improve the process further to make it not only perfect but speedier, as Ajanta Caves, ‘rediscovered’ 202 years ago in April 1819 by a British officer John Smith race against time for survival.

Various teams toiled to prepare stunning ultra-modern ‘digital images’ of the ancient but incredible colour paintings bejeweling the walls and ceilings of the Ajanta Caves from around 2 BC, or over 2200 years ago.

Since many of the murals have been damaged in varying degrees, the companies have deployed a digital restoration process using AI developed by scientists from various Indian universities, including IIT Roorkee.

Choolun said that the digital restoration does not alter the original artworks, but actually enhances the effect when working on the damaged paintings.

“We select a mutilated area of the mural through image processing-based identification using YOLO Machine Learning Model, restored it by altering the pixels of the damaged elements through mathematical inference of the neighbouring undamaged portions,” Srivastava explained.

High-end pixel-level scanning of documented pictures of the original artwork are deployed for the digitization process using deep learning algorithms.

Srivastava added that the deep knowledge was derived from painstaking manual digital restorations done by art historians like Behl, and with the AI technique, the team has been able to extract and create an ‘academic catalogue of jewelries’ used thousands of years ago!

Experts have termed the outcome of this unique combination of manual digital restoration and AI-trained rejuvenation as “excellent”, with continuous ongoing efforts to perfect the technique for even better results, said Choolun.

The challenges, he said, involves diametrically opposite dimensions like ‘heritage versus digitization’, ‘history versus artificial intelligence’, belonging to the era of yore vis-à-vis the future.

“Yet, AI is helping digitally preserve these 2,200-year-old Ajanta Cave paintings and now they could last for many lifetimes, safe from all kinds of disasters, for the benefit of future generations,” Choolun said with a tinge of pride.

The two companies have also joined hands to digitize, restore and preserve for eternity ancient Indian heritage, besides promoting contemporary Indian artists to the global audience, thus positioning itself as the ‘custodian of Indian culture’.

The “Renunciation of King Mahajanaka” – displaying the emotions of the benign King about to renounce worldly pleasures and allowing us to reflect on our worldliness – is safe in the bosom of the AWA, located deep inside a remote, icy Arctic mountain, 970 kms from the North Pole, and declared a demilitarized zone by 42 countries.

It is considered an ideal, secure setting where nothing – natural or human disasters nor Time itself – can touch these artefacts in their digitized format, and maybe millennia later, future generations would marvel at them with wide-eyes…!

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at

Source: IANS

Next Story

How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil : 5 Ways to Getting Nourished, Shiny Strands

How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil : 5 Ways to Getting Nourished, Shiny Strands

There are very few hair care ingredients that are as amazing and trusted as coconut oil. For centuries, coconut oil has been used as a hero ingredient and grandmothers of Indian households swear by it. The buttery, thick oil has managed to make quite an impression among the international fashionistas worried about the health of their hair as well.

Coconut oil brings to you an impressive resume of natural beauty advantages for both the scalp and hair.

If you haven’t yet discovered the wonderful benefits of coating your strands in coconut oil, you are probably wondering why this oil is considered a hair care mainstay. Keep reading to know how exactly coconut oil can nourish your hair and the best ways to apply it for brilliant results.

What is coconut hair oil good for?

How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil
How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil

Here, take a look at some of the reasons that make coconut oil reign supreme in the department of hair care.

  • The oil is super moisturizing for your hair strands. The low molecular weight of coconut oil allows it to easily penetrate the shaft of your hair and get absorbed quickly, much better than other oils.
  • The oil has a high moisture content naturally, and therefore, it is effective in conditioning and moisturizing the strands. The oil doesn’t just sit on top of it.
  • The oil will also help your hair to retain protein because it contains a specific type of fatty acid, known as lauric acid. Nick Stenson, a celebrity hairstylist and Matrix’s artistic director, says that strands hold to proteins better when they are coated in coconut hair oil.

If you need more reasons – coconut hair oil is affordable and found ubiquitously, and does not contain any chemicals.

How to apply coconut hair oil for maximum benefits?

The application of coconut oil to hair entirely depends on how you wish to use it. For instance, a deep conditioning hair mask needs a different application than a split end treatment or detangler.

You’ll find below 5 ways to apply coconut oil.

  1. As a treatment of the scalp

Are you interested in a tension-relieving, relaxing scalp massage? Sounds interesting, right? You can relieve your tensed scalp after a tough day of work by wetting the pads of your fingers with coconut oil. Apply the oil gently onto your scalp and massage it gently for a few minutes. This will help the coconut oil to moisturize your scalp and promote healthy hair growth. A relaxing scalp massage using coconut oil is going to make your hair follicles happy and this will result in speedier and also healthier hair growth.

The reason why scalp massages promote hair growth is because they encourage blood circulation. This helps in delivering your hair follicles all the essential nutrients and also oxygen.

  1. As a hair mask

Coconut oil for hair is known to work wonders when it comes to deep conditioning hair treatments. You can create a DIY at-home hair mask by melting a few tablespoons of the oil over low heat and then transferring the oil to a bowl. Section your hair to properly massage warm coconut oil into the roots of your hair and saturating your strands throughout the tips. After that, use a wide-toothed comb to run through your entire hair so that your hair detangles gently. Then, cover your hair with a warm towel or shower cap, and relax for ten to thirty minutes. You can use your regular or mild shampoo to wash out the oil. Make sure to rinse properly.

Remember not to sleep while you are relaxing. You need to wash out the oil to prevent any build-up.

  1. To define your curls more prominently

Coconut oil is a worthy styler and it can help you look your best. Even if you don’t have the right outfit for the day, your hair is surely going to make heads turn!

A lot of people are partial to wash-and-go or an air-dry. If you are one of them, you can slide the oil through the strands of your hair after taking a shower. The oil will help to define the pattern of your curl while also reducing frizz and moisturizing your hair.

If you want your curls to keep their spring, you can make use of coconut oil in between washes. Your curls will be replenished and have a beautiful shine.

  1. To prevent your hair from tangling or to detangle 

A physical barrier is required for all hair types before detangling the strands, especially for those who have more breakage-prone, drier hair. Coconut oil is a brilliant detangling hair care product that you can use to prevent your hair from breaking. You can apply warm oil or you can use a spray bottle to spritz oil on your hair before detangling.

  1. To treat split ends 

Honestly, you cannot mend split ends forever. There just isn’t a way. You can snip them from time to time, but you cannot say goodbye to them forever. Another way to manage your split end problem is by applying coconut hair oil products. The oil will help to seal the cuticle and make your hair look shinier, healthier, and also less brittle. You might even notice density to your strands, especially if you have been noticing that your hair is tapered toward the bottom and looking thin.

The takeaway

Do you think that your hair can benefit from the use of fatty-rich coconut hair oil? You can give it a try in any one of the 5 ways above. And if anybody was wondering, the oil can also be used straight up on your strands.

However, if you are allergic to coconut in general, you might want to stay away from using this oil. In such cases, applying the oil may result in causing irritation.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here