Hampi Krishna temple: Still no sign of restoration

Hampi Krishna temple: 20 years and counting, still no sign of restoration

The restoration of Krishna Temple in Hampi started and ended with fixing of steel scaffolding to the temple arch and walls 20 years back.(Right) Krishna temple was built by Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya to commemorate his victory over Odisha king Gaja

It’s been 20 years since the restoration of Krishna Temple complex was taken up, the renovation works are far from over.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had taken up the restoration of Krishna Temple in 2000. This followed after the temple complex was placed on the World Heritage in Danger list in 1999 because of poor maintenance and infringement from nearby development.

The ASI had roped in the artisans from Tamil Nadu to repair and restore the main arch and its gopura and the group of monuments inside the temple precinct. The restoration started and ended with fixing steel scaffolding to the temple arch and walls.

“Seeing the scaffolding, visitors do not even venture near Krishna temple complex, believing that work is under progress. A trip to Hampi is incomplete without visiting the Krishna temple complex. The tourists to the City of Ruins are missing an important slice of Vijayanagara history,” laments Gopal, a government-approved guide.

The Krishna Temple complex was built over a period of four years (1513-1517) to commemorate Krishnadevaraya’s victory over Odisha king Gajapati. While returning home, Krishnadevaraya brought a beautiful idol of Balakrishna and installed the idol in the temple.

The temple complex, built in Dravidian style of architecture, has yajna mantap, mahamantap, warehouse, sabha mantap and saalu mantaps to house the travellers/visitors. Beautiful stone carving, stucco detailing and towering shikhars define the monument.

One can see the remnants of the once-majestic Bazaar in front of Krishna temple. Such was the wealth of Hampi in its heyday (15th and 16th centuries) that gold, pearls and diamonds were openly sold at Krishna Bazaar also known as Somawarapete (after the weekly shandy on Mondays).  

Krishna Temple complex, like many shrines and monuments in the erstwhile capital of Vijayanagara Empire, was ruined and plundered by the confederation of the Deccan Sultanates after the Battle of Talikote in 1565. 

A few hundred years later, the remnants of the temple complex and the idol of Balakrishna were found during the excavation carried out by the ASI. The idol is currently housed at a museum run by the Archaeological department of Tamil Nadu in Chennai. But the temple complex is languishing for want of government patronage, says guide Gopal.

DH’s attempts to elicit response from P Kalimuthu, Deputy Superintendent, ASI-Hampi, on the inordinate delay in restoration of Krishna temple complex did not materialise as there was no response.