Survey of India

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The Survey of India (Hindi: भारतीय सर्वेक्षण विभाग ) is India's central engineering agency in charge of mapping and surveying. Set up in 1767[1] to help consolidate the territories of the British East India Company, it is one of the oldest Engineering Departments of the Government of India. The Survey of India's distinguished history includes the handling of the mammoth Great Trigonometrical Survey under William Lambton and George Everest and the discovery of Mt. Everest.[2] Its members are from Survey of India Service cadre of Civil Services of India.


Old logo of the Survey of India

Survey of India publishes maps and the unrestricted category maps can be obtained at very reasonable prices from its several Geo-spatial data centers. Restricted category maps require due approval from government authorities. Many other rules govern the sale and use of Survey of India maps. Only an Indian citizen may purchase topographic maps and these may not be exported from India for any reason.[citation needed]


The history of the Survey of India dates back to the 18th Century.

A) First Survey in India Baramahal : the present Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and North Arcot were called as baramahal. Col. Alexander Read Superintendent of Salem and Baramahal ordered for Socio Economic Survey of Salem and Dharmapuri District was started by January,1793 under the Head of W.Mather and completed by the year 1796. [Reference : Baramahal records Vol.I P.220] In Letter Dated 04.10.1797 the British Government appreciated Col. Alexander Read.

B) The Great Trigonometry Survey

The Great Trigonometry Survey was started by British surveyor Col. William Lambton on the 10th of April 1802. It was started from St.Thomas Mount, Chennai to foothills of Himalayas. It took 57 days to measure the 12-km base line. 36 inch huge ½ ton weight Theodolite was used to measure. This 5-decade project was completed under Survey General Lt George Everest in the year 1852. Surveyor Radhanath Sikdar measured Mount Everest in 1852, with a height of 29,002 feet. Modern measurements indicate the height is 29,037 feet. This is regarded as the beginning of systematic topographical mapping in India and the founding of one of the oldest survey and mapping agencies in the world.


The Survey of India, headquartered at Dehra Dun, has 18 civil engineering divisions ranging from the prediction of tides to aerial survey. It has 23 Geo-spatial Data Centers spread across India, each catering to the respective administrative area.Surveyors are the back bone of Survey of India. Appointments to Group 'A' Civil Engineering posts in the Junior Time Scale in Survey of India are made on the basis of competitive Indian Engineering Services Examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. The important Civil Engineering posts and Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering posts in Survey of India Service, divided between SIS (Civil) and SIS (EC & TE), are as below:

  1. Draftsman
  2. Plane Tabler
  3. Survey Assistant
  4. Surveyor
  5. Officer Surveyor
  6. Deputy Superintending Surveyor
  7. Superintending Surveyor
  8. Superintending Surveyor (Non-Functional Second Grade)/Deputy Director
  9. Director/Deputy Surveyor General
  10. Additional Surveyor General
  11. Surveyor General


Survey of India will take a leadership role in providing user focused, cost effective, reliable and quality geospatial data, information and intelligence for meeting the needs of national security, sustainable national development, and new information markets.


Survey of India dedicates itself to the advancement of theory, practice, collection and applications of geospatial data, and promotes an active exchange of information, ideas, and technological innovations amongst the data producers and users who will get access to such data of highest possible resolution at an affordable cost in the near real-time environment.

Activities/ Charter of Duties[edit]

The Survey of India acts as adviser to the Government of India on all survey matters, viz Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Mapping and Map Reproduction. However, the main duties and responsibilities of the Survey of India are enumerated below:

  • All Geodetic Control (Horizontal and Vertical) and Geodetic and Geophysical surveys.
  • All Topographical Control, Surveys and Mapping within India.
  • Mapping and Production of Geographical Maps and Aeronautical Charts.
  • Surveys for Developmental Projects.
  • Survey of Forests, Cantonments, large scale city surveys, guide maps, cadastral surveys etc.
  • Survey and Mapping of special maps.
  • Spellings of Geographical names.
  • Demarcation of the External Boundaries of the Republic of India, their depiction on maps published in the country and also advice on the demarcation of inter-state boundaries.
  • Training of officers and staff required for the Department, trainees from Central Government Departments and States and trainees from Foreign Countries as are sponsored by the *Government of India.
  • Research and Development in Cartography, Printing, Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Topographical Surveys and Indigenisation.
  • Prediction of tides at 44 ports including 14 foreign ports and publication of Tide Tables one year in advance to support navigational activities.
  • Scrutiny and Certification of external boundaries of India and Coastline on maps published by the other agencies including private publishers.

See also[edit]



  • Reginald Henry Phillimore, Historical Records of the Survey of India, 5 vols. Dehra Dun, Survey of India (1945–1968)

External links[edit]