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This article is about the software. For the Indian film character, see Lagaan.
"Bhoo" redirects here. For the Indian village, see Bhoo, India.
Developer(s) ISRO
Initial release August 12, 2009
Stable release Beta / August 12, 2014; 6 months ago (2014-08-12)
Operating system cross platform
Available in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu
Type Geographic information system, Virtual globe
Licence Freeware

Bhuvan, (lit: Earth), is a software application which allows users to explore a 2D/3D representation of the surface of the Earth. The browser is specifically tailored to view India, offering the highest resolution in this region and providing content in four local languages.[1][2] A beta version[3] was launched on 12 August 2009.[4]

Apart from visualization Bhuvan provides timely disaster support services (domestic and international),[5][6] free satellite data and a products download facility,[7][8] and rich thematic datasets.[9] Bhuvan is using a crowdsourcing approach to enrich its maps and collect point of interest data.[10] It also acts as a platform for hosting government data (example - Karnataka Forest Department datasets).[11][12]


[ISRO] launched the beta version of its web-based GIS tool, Bhuvan, on August 12, 2009. Bhuvan offers detailed imagery of Indian locations compared to other Virtual Globe Software, with spatial resolutions ranging up to 1 metre.[13] At present 177 cities High resoultion datasets are available,[14] while the other part of the country is covered by 2.5m resolution imagery. Locations will be viewable from different perspectives, and the software will also provide functionality for the measurement of distances and other geoprocessing capabilities. The Bhuvan portal is designed to run on slow Internet connections. The images available do not include any military installations in India, due to security concerns.[15]

The National Remote Sensing Agency played an important role in the development of this product. ISRO has used data provided by satellites including Resourcesat-1, Cartosat-1 and Cartosat-2 to get the best possible imagery of India.

Bhuvan-2D is developed using open-source software Geospatial solutions (UMN Mapserver, Geoserver, OpenLayers).2D images are available on all mobile browsers, including Apple's iOS.[16] All other Bhuvan applications and services are developed by taking Bhuvan-2D as a base. Bhuvan also provides faiclity to view satellite imagery in 3-Dimensional format. Earlier Bhuvan-3D was based on a product of Skyline Software Systems. On the 5th Anniversary of Bhuvan on 12 August 2014 Bhuvan has released an Open-source tool (Cesium : webGL Javascript Library) based Virtual Globe.[17] This 3D tool is platform independent and Plug-in free. Bhuvan also provides an android based application for field data collection.[18][19]


Bhuvan allows users to view 2D and 3D images, along with information on soil, wasteland and water resources on the Indian subcontinent. Users can superimpose administrative boundaries of their choice, from a selection of boundaries available, on images as required. Bhuvan also allows visualization of AWS (Automatic Weather Station) data in the graphic view, as well as in tabular form. Users can "fly" from one location to another, and also navigate using the 3D view pop-up menu (with fly-in, fly out, jump in, jump around and view point controls). The software features Heads-Up Display (HUD) navigation controls (tilt slider, opacity control, compass ring and zoom slider). There is also a drawing function, which allows users to draw certain objects in both 2D (text labels, polylines, polygons, rectangles, 2D arrows, circles and ellipses) and 3D (placing of expressive 3D models, 3D polygons and boxes). Users can create snapshots (copies the 3D view to a floating window and allows to save to an external file) to record images and use measurement tools (horizontal distance, aerial distance, vertical distance, measure area) to record distances. Shadow analysis also allows a user to view terrain as it would appear at a specified time of day, by setting the sun position appropriately for the given time, thus creating accurate shadows and lighting.

ISRO plans to allow the end-user to participate in the development of features for the product in the future.

Some of the functionality planned for future versions includes:

  • Online shapefile creation
  • Urban Design Tools (to build roads, junctions and traffic lights in an urban setting)
  • Contour maps (displays a colourized terrain, maps and contour lines)
  • Terrain profile (displays the terrain elevation profile along a path)
  • Draw tools (creates simple markers, free hand lines and urban designs)
  • Navigation map (to jump to and view locations in 3D)

Plugin download[edit]

Bhuvan-3D released in 2009 requires Plugin and best viewed on IE 8 in windows machine. However, on its 5th anniversary(12 Aug 2014), Bhuvan has rolled our platform & plug-in independent Bhuvan 3D.[20]

Technical requirements[edit]

Bhuvan 2D is compatible with all browsers and operating systems and does not require any plug-in installation. Bhuvan 2D is based on the open source application Geo-spatial solutions. Bhuvan 2D can also be accessed through mobile phones also without any plugin installation.

The previous version of Bhuvan 3D can run only on the Windows operating system and is optimized for Internet Explorer 6 and higher, with Protected Mode turned off. Bhuvan uses a plugin which is around 11 MB in size, and has to be installed prior to access. The plugin is only supported on Internet Explorer for Microsoft Windows. Google Chrome, Firefox and other platforms were not supported.

The latest version of Bhuvan 3D[21] requires only a webGL enabled browser[22] and is platform independent.


Since the launch of Bhuvan, users have experienced various difficulties. One problem is that the Bhuvan site has, at various times, been either inaccessible or very slow (due to less band width and servers). Users are required to register before they can use the product, and downloads of plug-ins up to 11 MB in size are needed for the application to work. Furthermore, the plugin only works on Windows, and only Internet Explorer is supported. However now Bhuvan is improving and does not require Login to visualize the maps.[23] Users need to register only when they wish to download satellite data (up to 25m resolution LISS-III data) and products (like NDVI, OHC datasets, Cartosat Digital Elevation Model etc.) To overcome the Plugin restrictions and platform-dependency for 3D -visualization, Bhuvan has come with a WebGL based open-source virtual globe. It only requires WebGL enabled browsers.[24]

It renders layers unevenly and sometimes images are completely blocked. Bhuvan promises images from a perceived altitude of 10 metres, but technical analysts[who?] dispute the results. If many locations of same name exist, Bhuvan is supposed to give multiple results so that users can choose the intended location, but Bhuvan sometimes fails to return multiple results.

Since the initial, buggy beta release, a more stable version has been released, with which users have reported fewer problems. A discussion forum has also been started for users experiencing difficulties.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Welcome to Bhuvan | ISRO's Geoportal | Gateway to Indian Earth Observation". 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  2. ^ "India to launch Bhuvan in March 2009". Silicon India. 2008-11-23. Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  3. ^ "Bhuvan, Indian Earth Observation Visualisation". ISRO. 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  4. ^ "Bhuvan: India’s answer to Google Earth". Jai Bihar. 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2009-08-12. [dead link]
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  15. ^ "ISRO's Bhuvan stands up to Google Earth". 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
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  25. ^ "Bhuvan Discussion Forum • Index page". Retrieved 2013-05-20. 

External links[edit]