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Friday, December 5, 2014

Karthigai Deepam at Thiruvannamalai ~ blimps for aerial surveillance

Sengottai ( Red Fort) starring Arjun, Meena and Rambha, released in 1996  was another patriotic film of Arjun.   The songs of Vidyasagar were a hit.   


Indian Premier League had players under the hammer providing them bigger market values. The mega sharks of marketing ensured that IPL was played on Television and reach out to larger audience than to the gallery with host of innovations.  Other than every space on the stadium, people found money in virtual space too.   I had posted about the ‘sky marketing’ – those inflated balloons called ‘blimps.  For IPL 2010, MRF was the official blimp sponspor putting up  MRF Blimp on display during matches at Mumbai, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Bangalore and Cuttack. The blimp was 19m long, dia of seven metre, containing up to 400 cubic metre of pure helium when filled. Once in the air at 300m height, the blimp  that could withstand wind velocity of up to 40 knots during a storm, was attracting all those around the sporting arena.   Technically, the term blimp would refer only free-flying aircraft but commercially they are used to tethered or moored balloons also.

Tiruvannamalai , the temple town is famous for Annamalaiyar temple, Karthigai deepam and the Girivalam of devotees on Pournami day.   Thiruvannamalai possessing one of the tallest gopurams, dedicated to Lord Siva worshipped as Arunachaleeswarar is referred to as Agni lingam. His consort is depicted as Unnamulai Amman.  The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, and is a Paadal Petra Sthalam.  Manikkavasagar composed the Tiruvempaavai here.  The temple complex covers 10 hectares, and is one of the largest in India. The eastern Gopuram has 11 stories and measures a height of 66 metres (217 ft). On Thirukarthigai day [5th Dec 2014 this year], deepam is lit on the hill near the temple – thousands of devotees throng the temple to witness this glorious event and circumambulate the mountain, a distance of around 15 kms.
Pic credit : Dinamalar 2006

The Hindu reports that a novel technology developed by scientists of the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Anna University, has been deployed as part of security arrangements for the Karthigai Deepam festival in Tiruvannamalai.  The technology, christened Yatra, is unique for precision cameras that can zoom down 40 times. Two giant balloons fitted with high-definition surveillance cameras are up in the air at an altitude of 300 feet covering a radius of 1.5 km each. The Tamil Nadu police have roped in the technology for crowd management and other security purposes. The festival attracts a large number of people every year.

According to K. Senthil Kumar, Department of Aerospace Engineering, MIT, the tethered blimp is an unmanned aerial vehicle with camera fitted on a Gimbal. Christened ‘Yatra,’ the technology was developed by a team of researchers that designed ‘Dhaksha’, the UAV that was extensively used by the police for surveillance on many occasions. “The uniqueness of ‘Yatra’ is not only in its endurance and manoeuvrability but the precision of cameras that can zoom down 40 times and lock a visual by the click of a button in the control room. The vibration-resistant cameras can produce clear still and moving visuals despite the wind velocity and movement of the balloon. The balloon can be in the air for one month,” Dr. Senthil Kumar said. This technology, the first of its kind, could be deployed for surveillance during VVIP visits, he added.

In the film Sengottai, in the climax, terrorists plan to eliminate the Prime Minister during his address to the Nation.  Sekhar (Arjun) escapes the custody of henchmen, reaches the spot and finds the sniper – saving the Prime Minister – the sniper would be positioned in a giant balloon hovering around the podium from which the dignitary would be delivering address to the Nation. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Dec 2014.


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