Melbourne, Oct 15 : Roaming around in Beijing's Forbidden City would not require people to take a flight to the Communist nation, for now a virtual three dimensional recreation of the vast palace allows people to tour the grand place without leaving their living room.
In fact, the new virtual palace designed by IBM, also allows the visitors to dress up as an imperial eunuch and meet a courtesan.
Online tourists can also watch the Qing dynasty emperor feast at dinner, train fighting crickets and feed them with blood-fattened mosquitoes, or practice archery with the help of a courtesan.
The virtual palace, dubbed "Beyond Space and Time." was unveiled on October 10.
"When you enter the Forbidden City you choose one of nine historical costumes, which is to give a sense of history but also keep a sense of decorum," The Daily Telegraph quoted John Tolva, program manager at IBM who led the project, as saying.
He added: "You can't run and you can't fly," a restriction that aims to prevent other virtual visitors, whom you can see and interact with, being distracted.
"One of the costumes you can chose is a eunuch," said IBM Vice President Paula W. Baker.
"There are eunuchs, for instance in the 'approving imperial memorials' scenes," added Tolva.
And if someone is too inquisitive about other intimate aspects of the emperor's life, they can get an up close look at the women chosen to serve him.
"There is a painting being done of the emperor and the courtesans are there, orbiting about tending to him while the painter does his job. And for all the activities where you actually do something there is an attendant who is styled as a courtesan," said Tolva.
According to the museum, the program (www.beyondspaceandtime.com), will earn new fans for a cultural landmark, which survived China's tumultuous 20th century in remarkably good form.
It took the developers three years and 3 million dollars to finally come up with the program.