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.
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.'
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.
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...