The process will not be this futuristic. (Photo: Idaho National Laboratory/CC BY 2.0)

Mumbai’s aggressive growth is set to erase a man-made 5th century cave to make way for the new Navi Mumbai International Airport. But as DNA India is reporting, the ancient cavern may yet live on in digital form.

The cave, located near Waghivali Pada village, was carved out of one giant piece of rock, with six pillars supporting the ceiling. The local villagers believe that the cave was once a temple to the local deity Keru Mata, and have seen it as a holy site for decades. But researchers haven’t found any evidence to support this, and, according to an academic survey, the cave would have more likely been used for storage by passing merchants.

No matter the original use, the Archaeological Survey of India found no significant heritage value to it and approved its demolition. The cave will be collapsed and flattened to make way for the airport, but before that happens, a pair of anthropologists are trying to preserve it in pictures.

Using a technique called photogrammetry, the pair hope to extensively document the cave with photographs so that it could one day be recreated digitally from their source images. Hopefully, in other words, maybe someday we’ll be able to revisit the doomed cave in a holodeck of the future.