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Hampi homes and business to be demolished

After a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court, Virupapura Gaddi which is known by climbers and locals as Hampi Island, is having all its accommodation and restaurants demolished. The ruling is a huge blow to the people and communities that have made the area their home, a place to set up their businesses and a vibrant, welcoming destination for tourists. Climbers have travelled to Hampi for decades to climb on the stunning granite boulders and it looks like this chapter in the area's history is coming to an end.

The temples seen from the island  © Nick Brown - UKC
The temples seen from the island
© Nick Brown - UKC

In 2011, the court of Karnataka ruled that the guesthouses and restaurants were to be demolished on Hampi Island. Several business owners grouped together and launched appeals which eventually reached the Indian Supreme Court. On 11th February, the residents were given the final ruling and were told their homes and businesses were to be demolished within a month. Information is hard to come by for residents and government officials who are serving eviction notices appear to be the only source of information. Six days later and almost all have been told to move out.

Charmian Griffin, a climber who stayed in Hampi until some of the final eviction notices were given on Sunday told UKC: 'They were marching through town literally banging drums and taking camera phone pictures of all of the business signs.

'Goan Corner who were amongst the last people holding out against the evictions got a call that seemed serious telling them demolitions are taking place tomorrow.

'I didn't stick around to see what happened next as it felt really sad and chaotic and I didn't want to be underfoot.'

Photo: Charmian Griffin  © Charmian Griffin
Photo: Charmian Griffin

Photo: Charmian Griffin  © Charmian Griffin
Photo: Charmian Griffin

The demolition has been a cloud over the local's heads for many years now. In 1986, Hampi became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and many of the guesthouses and businesses we deemed a danger to the site as a result. In 2012, across the river where the temples are, locals' homes and businesses were bulldozed practically overnight. Families that had lived in the area for generations were forced to find new homes and a once lively and vibrant bazaar went eerily quiet.

Here is a link to a Guardian report in 2012. It's a photo essay focusing on the evictions at the time.

Hampi  © Nick Brown - UKC
The temple side of Hampi where homes were demolished in 2011. Across the river is the island under threat.

The constant legislation has left locals confused. Many have paid for business licenses in the area since 2000 and were told these fees were a legal requirement to erect homes and restaurants on the island.

There is speculation that wealthy hotel owners have put pressure on local and state governments to demolish everything on the island to make room for a luxury hotel. Whatever the future of the site, it's clear that there is a systematic problem and need to reform the legal system in India.

Thousands of climbers visit Hampi each year to enjoy the superb granite bouldering, historical monuments, welcoming communities and great food. It's unlikely that any form of tourism will survive now and the only lasting effects will have been to take away people's homes and livelihood. Hopefully, they will have some success and create a new hub for climbers, albeit in a different area - there's certainly enough rock...


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19 Feb

Ofc its sad for the people whole livelihoods and homes that have been wrecked. But from a tourism perspective of both climbers and non climbers it won't be the end. There is granite boulders strewn over a huge area and plenty of other places to stay not too far off realistically.

19 Feb

Really sad news - there's such a huge community out there and they've worked so hard to establish the climbing festival.

19 Feb

Not a reason at all to stop you from going to Hampi; Hospet is a very short (very cheap) bus journey away if you want nice hotels, there are many other places to stay and so many different sectors in Hampi and the surrounding towns.

19 Feb

This happened the day after we left , utterly shocking, hampi island is such an amazing place with endless bouldering possibilities. The rumor of a resort style hotel being built on the land was circulating and would leave a trail of destruction if it is to go ahead so we will have to wait and see. As others have said the scope for climbing is endless so hopefully new areas can be opened up and developed to keep the place going.

19 Feb

Did they actually own the land and have building permission? It's shocking if they did and are being bulldozed with no compensation, but given the ongoing farce of the Sarah Groves murder case I'm not surprised.

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