ISRO , Indian space & research organization has launched Bhuvan, a satellite mapping tool similar to Google Earth and Wikimapia on 12th August 2009. Bhuvan gives you an easy way to experience, explore and visualize IRS images over Indian region.

Bhuvan is a geoportal that providisrobhuvan_thumbes medium to high resolution satellite imagery of  virtually the entire India over the internet. You can “fly” around using mouse and keyboard on a simple desktop computer with virtual globe in front draped with IRS images over Indian region. Many other features are built in, including 3D terrain and information on many thematic data.

Bhuvan is a free web based image portal. Most Image visualization programs are very expensive and complex. Bhuvan provides a fast and friendly way to look at IRS satellite data and thematic information in geographic context, which is invaluable for management, planning and visualization.

“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,” said ISRO chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair.

Multi-resolution imagMulti Resolution Terraines from multi-sensor IRS satellites of India is seamlessly depicted through the Bhuvan web portal by enabling a common man to zoom into specific area of interest at high resolution. Bhuvan brings a whole lot  of uniqueness in understanding our own natural resources whilst presenting beautiful images and thematic vectors generated from varieties of geospatial information. Bhuvan will also attempt to bring out the importance of multi-temporal data and to highlight the changes taking place to our natural resources, which will serve as a general awareness on our changing planet.  There are lot more special value added services which will be enabled onto the web portal in due course of time and each one of those services are going to be unique to preserving and conserving our precious natural resources through public participation.  We are sure the common man will get rich benefits from these Indian geospatial data services in days to come.

Bhuvan can take closer pictures of the Indian Subcontinent as compared to the Google Earth. Bhuvan is capable of taking a zoom level of up to 10 meters, while Google Earth features a zoom level of up to 200 meters.

Unlike Google Earth, however the Bhuvan application will not be downloadable and will not allow users to host content in the near future. It is not yet ready for Mac OS and Linux. But, at the moment Bhuvan can run only on windows system and is optimised for IE 6. or higher with 1280×1024 resolution.

One will be able to see the following data using Bhuvan:

  • Satellite imagery (LISS III , LISS IV along with metadata and  Multi- temporal Data from OCM & AWiFS)
  • Value added information (NADAMS – National Agricultural Drought Monitoring System), Output of flood studies for certain areas
  • Thematic information  (Wastelands, Soils, watershed,water resources related maps)
  • Base layers ( administrative boundaries, transport layers, water bodies, etc)
  • Census information
  • Metadata

Advanced functionalities to be provided in future versions

  • Urban Design Tools (to build roads, junctions and traffic lights in an urban setting)
  • Contour map ( Displays a colorized terrain map and contour lines)
  • Terrain profile ( Displays the terrain elevation profile along a path)
  • Draw tools (Creates simples markers, free hand lines, urban designs)
  • Navigation map (to jump to and view locations in the 3D India)

It is mandatory to register to use Bhuvan. The basic version of Bhuvan is free. Once you register and you login, you will be asked to download the Bhuvan plug-in. Accept the installation of the plug-in and you are ready to use the full features of Bhuvan.



  1. What’s the point. A few days ago the newsprint spoke of a Indian Institute *.* project to send up a “student satellite”. Without much international ado, other country’s institues have been doing it for quite sometime and moving on. From African to South American.

    There’s no point in such things, as they become just junk in say five or twenty years, their altitude-control propellants exhausted, their batteries corroded, the dead satellites circling ever-so-near to Earth. After which, they are just hazards to manned and robotic space craft. Sometimes they collide making the debris untrackable. All this until the undead get finally sucked through Earthen atmosphere and burn up. Another person has given a name to this condition, but I don’t remember.

    So will this Bhuvan remove india from very top of the primary polluters chain. The BBC has woken up to a fact that natural aquifers in Northern India are generally finished. Because of the indian penchant for rice whose cultivation requires many times more water than say wheat. The resultant interview by BBC of indians on the roads of Delhi produced the typically defensive reactions, questioning the very notion that Rice could ever be decreased from indian meal plates, much less made scarce. The “Expert” from IIT Delhi ( another II *.* ) said that rice cultivation uses water at 35 percent efficiency and should be brought up to 55 percent. How do they come up with these kinds of numbers.

    I say old chap, while the BBC is at it, it should also question the Vegetarianism contribution to water levels degradation. All those forest and wild lands which would have remained so in a system where meat and milk are consumed, but now are destroyed for the purpose of planting bhaaji, paalak and such other foolish items. India has hardly become a empire builder in the last 60 years.

    Lastly, on the topic of india and Space. A reluctant look at ISRO website, shows the still-being-built GSLV Mark III Launcher rocket carrying to Geostationary Transfer Orbit ( 37500 kms upwards ), luggage of about 4 tonnes. ISRO is about 50 years old.

    Compare this with a recent entrant, SpaceX, the company owned by Elon Musk who wrote PayPal, sold it to eBay for 1.5 Billion US dollars, and money put into building SpaceX from scratch in 2002. This company now is testing the Falcon 9 rocket which can carry 4.5 tonne luggage to GTO.

    ISRO 50 years old, SpaceX 7 years. This is like me 8 years and alone, and the Great Indian IT industry ( GIT, heh heh ) whose statistics is about 35 years and 1 Crore techies, and no Operating System and no Microprocessor.

    There is of course the Dragon space transporter module from SpaceX, which can be configured to carry humans or all-luggage to the International Space Station. Dragon is still in development. NASA actually does not want to depend entirely on Russia’s Soyuz capsules, a very reliable system. Thus NASA’s contract to private companies which SpaceX won.

    And what about China. Already three up.

    For now, Salaam Waalaikum. And, Viva Socialism.

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