“Hampi in the Karnataka state of India is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites”
Hampi, the domain of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire, amidst boulder strewn landscape is charismatic even in its ruined state and attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every year, says Rohan Rao.
How to Reach Hampi:
The Shila-Shilp (Stone Carvings) of the granite it bears are scattered everywhere in the vast expanse of Hampi, reminding of the richness and exquisite lineage of Vijaynagara Empire. It is very rightly said, “If dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi”
The fragrance of Hampi’s richness was carried by the winds far beyond the shores of India and it was a very much coveted seat then. Now lying in ruins, the Vijaynagara dynasty of the 14th Century, seated at Hampi, spreads over 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, these granites have an epic engraved in their bodies and silently narrate the story of grandeur splendor and fabulous wealth. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways, crumbling plinths, dilapidated walls with the weeds and shrubs widening their cracks, the arches and the architectural grandeur of Hampi tell a tale of men infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction. Every rock, every path and every monument at Hampi speak the same language; a language of glory and beauty.
Dotted around the hills and valleys are 500 plus monuments. Among them are beautiful temples, basement of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, treasury buildings. Hampi is a backpackers’ paradise, the same way the pilgrims’ delight.
In March 2002, the Government of India has announced that Hampi would be developed as an international destination centre. The State Govt. will constitute a Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authorityfor integrated development and conservation of Hampi.
Renowned historian and Kannada literary scholar M Chidananda Murthy had earlier this year demanded the Karnataka Government to take steps to confer special status to World Heritage centre Hampi on the lines of Vatican City. Dr Murthy, who had done extensive study on the Hampi ruins, alleged that the seat of power of the then Vijaynagara Empire, destroyed by a confederation of Muslim kings, still stood unprotected.
Karnataka state government has released Rs 20 crore for infrastructure development at the heritage site of Hampi. The tourism ministry has already taken steps like launching tongas for visitors to go around Hampi. Soon, battery-run vehicles will be introduced to minimise pollution. Earlier Hampi was listed under UNESCO’s endangered, but the removal of the name of world heritage site Hampi from the list of endangered monuments last year is recognition for the Hampi Development Authority which took up several works to develop it as the historic spot as per the guidelines of UNESCO. The Vijaynagara Festival organized by the Government of Karnataka in December recreates the grandeur of the bygone era.
An entire day, which the tourism packages offer to witness and experience the grandeur of Hampi, is very very limited. Imaginations, they say run wild, but even a lifetime is sometimes too short to imagine the richness that Hampi harboured in the Golden era. Still some of the significant monuments and major tourism attractions that can be witnessed give an insight of the glorious past.
Source – old archives of portal india-travel.co.in