Page H1 . 13 April 2005                     
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    PRESS RELEASE — Armchair Travel Company

    Meet Me at the Taj Mahal

    Web Surfers can now take a FREE online, Virtual Tour of the exquisite Taj Mahal monument in India from the comfort of their own armchairs.

    London, UK - April 13, 2005 - Technological advances by the Armchair Travel Company have now made it possible for tourists, teachers, historians and students to take an interactive, "virtual tour" around the Most Beautiful Building in the World, as if they were there. They will be able to see and hear everything about the site, its gardens and history by simply connecting to:

    Explore the Taj Mahal, which has been just been opened as a completely free-entry website to the general public by the Armchair Travel Company Ltd., is the third in a series of 'World Heritage Explorer series' web sites. The London-based company has employed a technique it has developed over ten years called Virtual Travel ®, based on proprietary photographic techniques, Macromedia Flash, and the Java PTviewer Panoramic Display Engine. The site displays 360° panoramic views, movies, narration and music to create a photo-real, interactive tour. The site also includes a full set of Microsoft Word files, including pictures, for use by schools, teachers and students.

    Upon entering the grounds of the Taj Mahal, 'virtual visitors' can look around by panning left and right on the small pano. Having spotted something of interest they can use QuickTime VR or Java to open a window with a much higher quality panorama, and then zoom in and pan around for closer looks. An easy-to-follow map also ensures that, unlike the real tourist, they can jump around the gardens and monument at the click of a button. There are even exclusive 360° panoramic views taken from the roof and in the crypt of the monument - these areas are off-limits to tourists at the site itself. All of the panoramas have descriptive narration, music and MS Word files.

    William Beckett from Armchair Travel said: "If a user wanted to see and hear everything on the website, it would take over two hours to view it all, thus making this the most comprehensive guided tour of an historic site yet produced on the world-wide web. This site should make this monument available to a wide range of virtual visitors who would otherwise never be able to see its splendour. Armchair Travel's "World Heritage Explorer" programmes will help alleviate the burden for access to internationally important sites, such the Taj Mahal, while producing income for preservation through donations. Many of the most famous monuments are threatened with closure to prevent the damage caused by admitting yet more tourists."

    Four hundred years of the monument's history are brought to life, with the key figures in the story of the Taj Mahal being presented in 25 specially produced movies (suitable for both broadband and dialup connection). These include video essays on the main features of the monument, such as its dome, the crypt cenotaphs, Islamic inscriptions and art, etc., and especially those features not visible to most tourists. The website is now available in English, French, Hindi and Japanese.

    William Donelson from Armchair Travel said: "As the uptake of internet in the home increases, people will increasingly look to the world wide web for entertainment as well as information, and travel seems likely to prove one of the most popular subjects. Armchair Travel are at the forefront of this new technology."

    The site is also accessible through the company's website - - as are examples of the programmes "Explore Parliament and the Royal Palace of Westminster", "Explore St. Paul’s Cathedral" and "Explore Warship Exeter - NavyFacts". The Company has also released a free virtual tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and eventually the ruins at Petra in Jordan, and other World Heritage sites.

    Further details are available from:
    William Beckett
    (44) 207-386-5454
    Armchair Travel Co. Ltd.
    21 Queens Gate Place
    London SW7 5NY, UK



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