Amid funding woes, Hampi’s heritage hangs in balance

The paucity of funds and irregular release of money have left conservation and restoration projects, initiated a decade ago, incomplete.
Last Updated : 18 June 2024, 22:56 IST

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Hampi: The 57 centrally protected monument sites in Hampi urgently need at least Rs 25 crore to prevent further deterioration of the structures. However, over the past five years, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Hampi Circle has received only Rs 1.63 crore a year on average from the Union government for core conservation works.

The paucity of funds and irregular release of money have left conservation and restoration projects, initiated a decade ago, incomplete. 

Locals blame the ASI for the collapse of a portion of Salu Mantapa near the Virupaksha temple. The renovation work was initiated in 2019, but officials could complete only a portion of it. Officials claim they were supposed to take up the work this year. Similarly, the renovation work at the Krishna temple that started in 2014 remains unfinished due to lack of funds.

The famous Vijaya-Vittala temple complex, Krishna temple, Achyutaraya temple and Bazaar area also require funds. ASI sources told DH that they have not taken up restoration work as there is uncertainty over fund release. "Our internal study says we need at least Rs 25 crore to restore the gopuras of temples, mantapas and other ASI-protected monuments. As funds are a constraint, the ASI has taken up only maintenance and minor repairs to prevent further degradation of the monuments,” said a senior officer.

Funding shortages affect not only ASI-protected monuments in Hampi but also those conserved by the State’s Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage (DAMH). The 236 sq km world heritage area has 57 groups of monuments (75 structures) under ASI's care along with some under DAMH and over a thousand non-notified monuments.

Hampi is Karnataka’s second most-visited tourist destination after Mysuru. Documents show that the world-famous monuments of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire generate an average revenue of Rs 4.21 crore from ticket sales. Despite this, over the past six years, the Centre has provided the Hampi ASI an average of only Rs 1.63 crore for core conservation and another Rs 3.75 crore for maintenance.

"Despite its historical, mythological and tourism value, Hampi is not receiving the desired attention and funds for conservation or restoration,” said Krishna Devaraya, a descendent of the Vijayanagara dynasty.

Conservation experts attribute Hampi's problems to a lack of a long-term vision, staff shortage and the failure to prioritise work.

A conservation architect, who didn't wish to be named, questions the commitment to restoration. "It's not just about funds... there’s a lack of will to restore monuments. Rs 25 crore is not a big sum, but do our ASI and DAMH possess the technical expertise to take up restoration works," he asks.

Nikhil Das, ASI Hampi Circle Superintending Archaeologist, acknowledges the shortage of funds and staff for conservation efforts. "All ASI-protected monuments in Hampi are structurally sound. But some require restoration and the ASI has devised plans to take up these works in a phased manner," he says.

Das says the ASI has initiated 15 new renovation works this year at an estimated cost of Rs 4.52 crore in addition to 14 ongoing works.

DAMH Commissioner Devaraj A says that while the state government has increased funding for monument conservation over the past five years, the large number of monuments to be protected across the state limits the allocation of sufficient funds for Hampi.

While there have been regular reports of monuments collapsing and being defaced by miscreants, officials claim that there are no monuments in Hampi that require immediate restoration.

Unfinished works  Funding delays plague decade-old conservation efforts Hampi's 57 protected sites need Rs 25 cr, but ASI got only Rs 1.63 crore annually for 5 years Locals blame ASI for collapse of a portion of Salu Mantapa near Virupaksha temple ASI says it has initiated 15 renovation works this year at Rs 4.52 cr

Published 18 June 2024, 22:56 IST

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