Bazaar Street, opposite Sri Virupaksha temple at Hampi, which used to be bustling with myriad activities, wears a deserted look now.
“It was like having a ‘punardarshan' of Hampi immediately after it fell into ruins 500 years ago. Bazaar Street is a picture of desolation,” B.S. Anand Singh, Vijayanagar MLA, bemoaned.
The entire stretch of Bazaar Street has become lifeless after encroachments at the “saalu mantaps” on either side of the street were cleared. People, who were residing in the mantaps, besides running some commercial activities, including restaurants, lodges, cyber cafes, have been evicted.
As a result, tourists visiting the temple find it difficult to even buy drinking water on Bazaar Street. The only place where they can buy water and other eatables is the parking lot at the entrance to Bazaar Street.
Following directions from the Karnataka High Court to clear encroachments around the ancient monuments, people residing in the ancient “saalu mantaps” who earlier were reluctant to vacate started shifting on their own to nearby Kaddirampur village and Kamalapur town. The demolished structure on Bazaar Street and also on the path leading to the river would force one to recollect how Hampi was in ruins five centuries ago. The Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority, as per the directions of the Karnataka High Court, has identified land near Kaddirampur village to rehabilitate the 328 evacuees. The Nirmiti Kendra has been entrusted with the task of preparing the layout and developing civic amenities.
In addition, the authority had planned to provide user-friendly kiosks to vendors of puja and other items at the existing parking lot.
Meanwhile, Mr. Anand Singh, on Tuesday, held discussions with officials concerned, including D.R. Ashok, Commissioner, Kempe Gowda, Conservation Assistant, ASI, and S. Basavaraj, Hospet Tahsildar, over the allotment of land for commercial activities.
“It is significant that the authority has initiated steps to rehabilitate the evacuees and help the vendors to carry out their business. But similar steps are necessary to help the people to restart their commercial activities,” he said.
Mr. Anand Singh told The Hindu that he was in favour of allotting a suitable place adjacent to the land identified for rehabilitation, to the people to restart their commercial activities. Mr. Ashok and Mr. Kempe Gowda said that they and the MLA had visited a couple of places and they would send a proposal to the ASI to finalise land for the purpose.