IIT Roorkee students develop deep learning AI algorithms to digitally reconstruct damaged murals of historical importance

New Delhi: In a span of just 15 days, students participating in the recently concluded Tech4Heritage hackathon, developed AI & Machine Learning (ML) based solutions to aid in the restoration process of murals recovered from the Ajanta caves. The initiative was spearheaded by Rishihood University, Internity Foundation and Sapio Analytics, supported by the Ministry of Culture and LTI (Larsen & Toubro Infotech). It garnered participation from over 50+ teams from various top colleges, including the IITs and NITs.


Participating teams utilised a dataset of more than a thousand reference paintings to develop AI models built on General Adversarial Networks (GANs), enabling impressive restorative outcomes. This enabled participating teams to address an extremely complex real-world challenge with immense potential for scale. First place winners were a team called ‘Ancient AI’ from IIT Roorkee. Apart from cash prizes, winners also have the opportunity to work closely with the Sapio Analytics Heritage Restoration Team, handling projects across India and the United Kingdom.


Speaking on the initiative, Founding Chancellor, Rishihood University, Suresh Prabhu, said, “It brings me immense joy to see the ingenuity and hard work put in by the students to help preserve our ancient heritage. This just reaffirms the fact that the most innovative solutions will come from our talented youth. Many hearty congratulations to the winners and participants. I see an exciting future ahead for all of them.”


The restored digital murals have also been immortalised by depositing them in the Arctic Digital Archive (AWA) located close to the North Pole. This will ensure protection from natural disasters and secure accessibility for future generations for at least 1000 years. Chief Guest for the closing ceremony was the renowned filmmaker, art historian and photographer, Mr. Benoy K Behl, who stressed upon the need for highly accurate digital restoration, thereby preserving the integrity of original works susceptible to eventual degradation.


Co-Founder & CEO Rishihood University, Sahil Aggarwal, added that “The main reason for organizing Tech4Heritage was aid students to become more aware of how they can use their education to create meaningful social impact.”


Other notable speakers included, Lt. Col Suunil Narula addressing students on “Personal Mastery”, CTO & Director, Ashnik Technology, Mr. Sandeep Khuperkar, speaking on “Using AI and Open Source to Experience Indian Heritage”, and Cofounder of Data Reveals & the India Pride Project, Anuraag Saxena shedding light on “Heritage as a tool for Geo-Political Power.”