Survey Of India


Survey of India Dehradun

Survey of India-The Oldest Scientific Department of the Indian Government.

The Indian central agency that has been entrusted with the job of survey and mapping is Survey of India that was set up in 1767. The agency is a brain child of the British rulers, aka “East India Company”, who wanted a complete mapping of its territories within India. In fact this is one of the oldest scientific departments under government of India. It was on the basis of the efforts of two stalwarts surveyors of the British East India Company that at first base for such an agency was laid down.

Their pioneering efforts made it possible for the British to do a detailed survey of territories under their rule. Bit by painstaking bit, these stalwarts created a detailed and complete understanding of the then Indian terrain. These two stalwarts of whose efforts bore fruit and ended in creation of the Survey of India were Mr.Lambdon and Sir George Everest. With limited resources in comparison to today’s tool they created a complete mapping of the Indian territory covering all corners under their rule and provided a great resource for later generations.

Survey of India is the premier survey organisation entrusted for mapping the entire geological topography of India. Mapping provides a country with vital data on various things such as resources, progress and future prospects for any country. It is the hard work of Survey of India that ensures they have  comprehensive knowledge of resources at their disposal in any given part of Indian territory and how they can best use it for progress and development for today and a brighter tomorrow as well. Since those early days under the two stalwarts present Survey of India has been a much advanced body that has at its disposal a full arsenal of modern and technical devices that enables a higher degree of accuracy.

Today Survey of India has a task to publish maps and one can find unrestricted category maps easily from many geo data Centres set up around the country. One can also buy restricted category maps as well, however it requires written permission. Another rule in place is that only a citizen of India can purchase a topographic map and that it shall never been exported beyond the shores of the nation.

Survey of Indian started with only 5 directorates under it in 1950 primarily for survey needs pertaining to the North West and the north east, and since then it has swollen to 22 directorates and is situated in various part of India and covers the country’s total mapping needs. Using latest technological resources it now meets needs of defence forces, planner and scientists in geo scientific studies as well as land & resources management effectively. Various agencies of the Indian government now use the various information’s and data variables derived by Survey of India. They have the stellar job of effectively maintaining state boundaries and ensuring development in under developed areas.

There are three digital centers that effectively take care of the nations need for digital topographic data. These were setup in late 80’s as it was required to create a digital data database for use by various ministries that were entrusted with planning and development. For better effectiveness various wings of Survey of India have been strengthened such as directorates of geodetic research branch, R&D Directorate and Survey training institutes for the betterment of the community.

Dehradun, in Utarakhand was chosen as the head quarters of this luminary division of government of India. Their office is situated at Hathibarakala estate and presently the director is Dr.Swarna Subba Rao. Survey of India stands by their motto which reflects that they know every part or inch of this exquisite nation because it is their task to map every map judiciously. This vision of Survey Of India is to take a position of leadership to enable the users with effective, reliable and quality Geospatial data for ensuring Indians security concerns, national development issues etc. as part of its Mission-Survey of India has dedicated its activities to advancement of collecting and applying geo spatial knowledge to promote exchange of information amongst data producers. It is done with an aim of providing best high resolution data at affordable cost and in a real time environment.

Some of their present deliverables are primarily as follows:

  • Geodetic controls and geodetic & geophysical surveys
  • Topographical surveys, mapping and survey within India.
  • Mapping, production of geographical maps & aeronautical charts
  • Surveys are aimed at myriad developmental projects
  • Survey of city & guide Maps
  • Survey and creation of maps for special needs.


For an organization that had its beginning in 1767, there is a tremendous progress that survey of India has done over a few decades in existence. This is a prime example of how one of India’s premier agencies took roots from a humble beginning in the days of the British Raj and today a leader in its field. Survey of India is greatly responsible for the higher levels of development taking place in the country today.