Friday, September 2, 2011

Resurrection of the Forgotton Empire

When Robert Sewell published his treatise A Forgotton Empire in 1900, little did he realise that Hampi would  be considered as a world Heritage site in 1986 ( first reprint of his edition was published ).  The revival of the heritage destination has been slow and calibrated under Hampi Heritage area management authority act 2002 ( 16/4/2003 ).  The biggest boost for the conservation efforts came from the Supreme court banning mining in this area.  We notice the rejuvenation of the terrain and return of greenary around the hillocks at Hospet.   I hope the ban on mines continue to maintain the ecology in the region and exports are banned and whatever mines are operated only for domestic consumption by NMDC only.  Who knows that we may end up discovering another diamond mine in future ?

On december 11th 2010 around 26 battery operated vehicles have been introduced to visit Vijaya Vittala temple.  The unique feature of this facility is that young girls are trained to drive the battery operated vehicle ferrying 14 persons at a cost of  Rs 20 per pax for a return journey of 4 Kms.  We were pleasantly surprised by this move, aimed at empowering women obviously.  The reasoning given to general public that this world heritage should be protected from vehicular pollution, vibration and over crowding.  Maybe a co-ordination is required to generate huge employment for the populace without crass commercialisation.  India has never so far benefited from employment generation facility through tourism.  This would be ideal pitch for the authorities concerned to extend touring of circuits vide battery operated vehicles.

Why i debunk the theory of  vehicular movements causing danger to the heritage monuments obviously with  safe distance maintained,  is primarily because the destruction unleashed by nature is much greater.  The natural earth movement, heavy rainfall, ageing of granites and intense sunshine causes its own destruction to the monuments.  The unregulated crowd management would be an issue in future, if it is not taken into consideration by the concerned.

The fury of the tungabhadra river harnessed by the construction of  TB dam at hospet to an extent has helped in preservation of the Hampi monuments by default.  This dam was inaugurated by Smt Indira Gandhi on 9th January 1967.

Another big step the government had initiated demolition drive of  shopping centres, guest houses, residence and eateries around Virupaksha temple. The construction of a new cable bridge across the Tungabhadra river was halted by the intervention of  UNESCO, who had conferred the world heritage status to Hampi.   The work started by Veerapa Moily govt in 1997 was almost completed when Junko Tanaguchi visited Hampi in 1999 and strongly recommended for removal of world heritage tag if the bridge is completed. Ironically the bridge collapsed on Jan 22nd 2009, wherein 8 workers lost their life.   It would have marred the beauty of  heritage site permanently.  Instead a strong navigation on Tungabhadra river through ferries and launches would be ideal means of transportation from Anegudi to Hampi.  It would boost further employment.

Yet another big move contemplated by the hampi heritage authority is to undertake sound and light show, it would mean that the general public would be able to visit Hampi heritage structures during night too during summer vacations, otherwise the temperature is unbearable to visit during day time.  We enquired with the organiser staff, who happens to be related kannada film actress Jayanti.  They mentioned that work will be completed before Jan 2012.

A slow and steady reconstruction of the fortress is the biggest feature of revamp of  Hampi, even though the entire 40 square Kms of the empire which lay in ruins after the battle of  Talikota in 1565.  This  place would have been converted to Islamic domain but for the strong resistance by the local populace.  The invaders migrated with wealth beyond imagination leaving behind destruction.  Some of the photographs are displayed in the Kamalapur musuem prior to salvage operations speaks volume on reconstruction effort too.

The key to complete transformation of  Hampi into a world class tourist destination would be ensuring a world class road network, which is complete upto Chitradurga on NH 4, but NH 13 is in a shoddy state of affairs with railway crossings being a death trap virtually.  A comprehensive network of  ferrying tourist on share taxi system would further boost employment.  The KSTDC conducts local site seeing from Hospet @ Rs 250 per pax which is discontined due to lack of tourists most of the times.  It virtually kills tourist interest, instead KSTDC can organise pool of  taxis at Rs 300 per pax on share taxi.  It would boost tourism employment opportunity and infrastructure at Hospet.

Overall i am sure with opening up of  Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal along with Bijapur circuits would add value to the tourist hub of  Hampi.   It would be ideal if the hampi authority would be able to recreate the ancient times with Palace of  Krishnadevaraya resurrected, with water channels rejuvenated and diamond market revived with cutting and polishing centres and ethnic showrooms selling jewellery.  The lingering taste of  food savoured from the basin of  Tungabhadra and photo shoot opportunity of  ancient diamond trading centre will always be luring me to visit Hampi.  Each time i end discovering something refreshing about this heritage site.


Anu said...

very true, Umesh! it is such a place that we will learn something new every time! as to the electric vehicles, it is certainly a good idea- one, because it gives work to women, and two, because it will certainly help control the crowd! and if the bridge had been completed, the coracles would have faded into oblivion by now!

Deguide said...

Anu, I agree with your observation that coracles would become obsolete and we would have shed crocodile tears Lol

Team G Square said...

Wonderful . Hampi is one only place .

varsha said...

very informative posts -lovely pics! thanks !!

Shadows Galore said...

One of my last major destinations left in South India.. I will be Hampi in January 2012, armed with the photocopies of your blog. Beautiful Insight! Going through your blog posts and following you from now on :)


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Basically i am down to earth, take friendship to its logical end. It is my endeavour to create a wealth of co-operative ventures. Basically being a marketing man i have the acumen to spot winners. I am privileged to travel the length and breadth of the country, courtsey my father, who was with Indianoil, my employers such as Nutrine, Kurl-on, Hindustan Pencils, Prestige, Crystal, Bell Ceramics, Pentel, Sezal, Commander. Currently i am involved in Tourism, Booking Air Tickets, Agent for Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited and Taj Group of Hotels and a numerous hotels across India. Depending on the needs of a traveller i would recommend the destination and accommodation best suited to their budget. Humour takes me on. Let us have a win win situation for all. I love travelling for sake of adventure, photography and discovering the heritage. Life is a journey and let us enjoy our drive. Come share your travel experience on indiabackpacker.