The 21st century race to map India

atlas close up dark dirty
Photo by Aaditya Arora on

I have borrowed the title from an article published recently on Livemint. It’s not often that one comes across an article on maps in a mainstream publication, so I thought it warranted an article.

I have enjoyed ‘reading’ maps since my childhood days. Geography was one of my favourite subjects in school. I have not really thought about what is it that grabs my attention when it comes to maps. Is it the thrill of locating places on Earth, tracing the convoluted lines that demarcate nations or gaining perspective about the topography of our planet? I don’t know, but the pleasure I get by poring over a map has not diminished, though these days it’s mostly digital maps that I peruse.

One of the positives of this digital age is that maps have become so accessible these days? Almost everyone with a smartphone, I believe, will be accessing maps in some form – be it for their ride sharing service, food delivery, or just for locating the nearest restaurant. I wonder, though, if this increased exposure to maps would lead to greater interest in cartography. I recollect reading a book some time ago about the great exercise of mapping India undertaken in the 19th Century. I believe the book was John Keay’s ‘The Great Arc’ and it detailed the tremendous effort put in to create a more accurate map of the vast subcontinent.

Interestingly, I was looking for a word that describes someone who loves maps, but such a word does not seem to exist. If any of you know such a word, please do drop a comment!

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