On crossing Bengaluru’s city limits, you immediately notice the change in scenery. Wider roads, less vehicular smog, and abundant greenery. If you happen to travel down the picturesque Tumkur Road, down to Chitradurga and then onwards to Hospet, you will notice the beautiful flora, a complete change from your daily urban environment.
Just 13 km from Hospet, Hampi is not a new phenomenon for well-versed travellers. Due to the proximity of the area from Bengaluru, it is a popular weekend getaway. According to estimates, every year, more than 2 lakh visitors descend upon Hampi!
Karnataka’s famous tourist destination has amassed name and fame for a reason. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was the epicentre of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire, in the 14th century. Browse through chronicles and journals left behind by Persian and European travellers, to find mention of Hampi, described as a prosperous, wealthy and grand city.
It is perhaps befitting, that the Central Government, is considering Hampi as one of the 10 tourist destinations pan-India, to be developed as an ‘Iconic Tourism Site.’
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made the announcement while presenting the Union Budget, on February 1, 2018. According to him, the government proposes to develop ten prominent tourist sites as Iconic Tourism destinations through holistic infrastructure and skill development. In addition, tourist amenities will be upgraded at 100 Adarsh Monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
As part of the initiative, some steps that the scheme will implement are as follows:
Make monuments visitor friendly.
Upgrade existing washrooms, drinking water facilities, signs, cafeterias and wi-fi facilities, or install them if required.
Provide interpretation and audio-video centres.
Streamline wastewater and garbage disposal and rainwater harvesting systems.
Make the monument accessible to differently-abled citizens.
Improve existing/provide new, suitable parking facilities.
Hampi could use an infrastructure overhaul. It has about 57 significant monuments, and most of them come under its core zone, which encompasses four villages spread across 41.8 sq. km. A casual glance through any travel portal or backpacker’s forum, reveals several instances of complaints by those visiting the heritage site.
Sometimes, the facilities are inadequate, and sometimes people are just too lazy. An official, in the Indian Express, recalls how some tourists use the space behind the monuments to attend to nature’s calls.
While the Government is taking steps to boost the infrastructure at Hampi, as travellers, we too, are endowed with a responsibility that we must not overlook because any tourist destination, which receives visitors beyond its capacity, will start deteriorating.
A few simple directives that we, as visitors, can follow are:
Don’t carry too many plastics, when visiting a tourist heritage site. Try using paper bags; they are biodegradable.
Do not scribble/draw on the walls of ruins. If your children are doing it, stop them immediately.
Do not relieve yourself near/behind monuments. Make an effort and find a washroom.
Do not litter, and throw rubbish, clean up after yourself.
Do not try and mess with wildlife.
Do not swim in any water-body, without consulting local authorities whether it is safe and permitted to do so.
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The gorgeous temple ruins of Hampi, are surely a treat for the eyes and the soul. The soft, evening sunlight, bathing the hilly terrain, and those gigantic granite boulders, are sure to set your spirit free. With better amenities, the area will become an even better getaway, and it essential that we behave responsibly in an iconic heritage location!