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TOWARDS CONSERVATION: Children may no longer be allowed at this heritage structure in Aihole as the Government has initiated the process of rehabilitating those living in its vicinity.
TOWARDS CONSERVATION: Children may no longer be allowed at this heritage structure in Aihole as the Government has initiated the process of rehabilitating those living in its vicinity.

Staff Correspondent

Many who depend on tourism for their livelihood are against it

  • Aihole has potential to be included asworld heritage site
  • Human dwellings around monuments posing a problem

    AIHOLE (BAGALKOT DISTrict): It should have been a festive mood in the this heritage village of Aihole in the wake of the Chalukya Utsava.

    But the villagers do not appear to be happy since they have to move out of their dwellings where they lived for decades sooner or later. Aihole, the early capital of the Chalukyas, has a unique place in the history of India's temple architecture. Many architectural experiments were carried out under the patronage of Chalukyas.

    There are 120 monumental structures, mostly temples of Vaishnavites and Shaivites, here. There are also Jain and Buddhist temples, besides four rock-cut temples.

    Potential

    Aihole has the potential to be included as a UNSECO world heritage site along with Pattadakal, the last temple complex developed by the Chalukyas that has already acquired the status.

    But the fact that around 50 monumental buildings are surrounded by human habitation remains a problem.

    These structures include a group of temples including the Gunti, Virupaksha, Yoginarayana, Triambakeshwara, Huchchappaiah Math, Maddhyakeshwara and Mallikarjuna temples. Not long ago, people lived in most of these structures. Of late, they built their own houses nearby.

    Attempts made by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is maintaining the site, to relocate the people have proved futile for years owing to resistance and also want of a viable rehabilitation package. Of late, the Government has shown interest in the issue, and identified land one km away from the heritage site. Initially, the plan was to shift only 118 families whose dwellings are close to the monuments.

    But the idea was shelved as the villagers wanted tall of them to be relocated at one place.

    "We are ready to shift although we may lose our identity. The rehabilitation must be on the lines of one executed in Upper Krishna Project," said Parushram Godi. Some people, especially those who thrive on tourism in the area, are apprehensive that the relocation may divest them of their means of livelihood.

    "Commercial stalls should be allotted to us on priority, and steps taken to assure us income," said Veersangappa Handi.

    He runs a small hotel in front of main heritage complex.

    Revenue Minister Jagdish Shettar has shown keen interest in the issue.

    Initial survey

    According to sources, the initial survey has estimated that the relocation process will need at least Rs. 25 crore. Much would depend on how much the Government would earmark for it in the coming budget, an official told The Hindu.

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