The archaeological Site : Hampi 2

 Elisabeth Cam

The archaeological site in Hampi is an ambiguous area because it is difficult to define, as this vast area includes a large variety in terms of economic activities (e.g. sugarcane, banana plantation, coconut plantation, tourism), a landscape with two main facets (the first one includes pockets of greenery, and lush vegetation, the second one comprises of the arid landscape of boulders), different styles and periods of monuments that we can find and discover in this area. Actually, these numerous structures represent only 20% of the excavated site.

A natural landscape
A developed area for tourism (not authentic)

The main objective is to restore one of the most famous Empires of the 14th century, and develop tourism for today, respectful of this archaeological environment.
The main difficulty being a town planner, is the realization of ecotourism without hindering or slowing down of excavations. In many cases tourism is synonymous to danger for preservation and conservation of the site.
The main difficulty is to institute tourism today in a fragile archaeological landscape, to reply to different demands which seem contradictory.
The objective is realization of an old area which is alive.

Presently, the site is divided into several pockets of monuments scattered in the vast area of Hampi. That is why a lack of connectivity between elements, that seem isolated, can be noticed. These links have been broken or are nonexistent.
It is vital to re-establish connectivity between different elements and to restore the unity of the original Vijayanagara Empire.

The problem is the fact that if we want to create, develop or restore connectivity, it is important that all proposals and action plans respect the evidence and authenticity, and that they don’t have any negative impact on the authenticity of the site.

The best solution for the site is to restore ancient pathways and use them for the movement of tourists to maintain authenticity. But excavations need time (problem in terms of priorities, costing, and difficulty to intervene, property...) and the demand for tourism is immediate. The supply must be quick and appropriate.
That is why for the tourist movement many connections were created and developed quickly, that were not necessarily authentic. Many areas are not developed fairly. The tourism planning was not appropriate.

If we don’t immediately restore ancient pathways to use them for tourism, we need to develop new connections, extremely thoughtfully, which can be taken off or moved easily to facilitate excavations.

If we want to welcome tourism we need to create facilities, develop some areas respectful of the environment. But only that is not enough as we also need to inform tourists on several other aspects such as history, function, architecture etc., to improve their knowledge of the site and to sensitize people. But presently a lot of information is missing.

Now it is important not to commit the same errors in understanding, for example, the site in terms of organization, history, functions of different spaces and groups of monuments.
That is why inscriptions on stones are important because they can give some information on the kind of landscape and their functions that originally existed.
Or another pertinent example is the discovery of ancient gateways which indicate the original axes and ancient network of pathways.
It is also important to reactivate ancient water channels, to plant native vegetation, to restore destroyed elements and to preserve elements in good condition.

The site will be more attractive for visitors if it is developed and excavated.
The knowledge of the site will be improved.