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IGNCA Takes Initiative in 

Conservation of Heritage Site Hampi



The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagara.  Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces, which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries.  Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.



Hampi is the second largest heritage site in the world.  Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, commited as it is to the preservation and propagation of all forms and manifestations of Art and Culture in India, has taken a major initiative in the conservation and documentation of Hampi.

Using the latest technology in collaboration with the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), IGNCA has taken up digital mapping of the site, as a first step to a magnificent project to save this World Heritage Site from further depravations by Nature and man.  Conceived as part of the scheme is a multi-media documentation.  The site of Hampi has been excavated in parts by the Archaeological Survey of India.  The IGNCA's Hampi project has marked a 40 sq.km area for thorough search through satellite survey, using the GIS (Geographic Information System).  With the help of the GIS images, it will be possible to map the area over ground and also find out what lies underneath the ground, up to six metres without digging!

IGNCA has published an annotated bibliography of the research work already done on Hampi.  Several scholars have done research on Hampi in isolation.  This bibliography, running into several hundred pages gives a near-complete status of research and has scope for further updating.

In order to execute the mammoth task of documenting this huge site (ruins spread over an area of 100 sq.km) scientifically, a workshop was held in the Kannada University campus in Hampi on September6-7, 2002 on the theme "Multimedia Documentation of Hampi World Heritage Site."  It was attended by subject scholars, scientists working in the field of GIS, artistes, archaeologists, art historians and multi-media experts.  Together, they chalked out a time-hound programme for obtaining results.  The first task of preparing the bibliography is already accomplished.  Some of the agencies involved in this project are the Archaeological Survey of India, the State Archaeology Department, the State Archives, The Kannada University, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore University and Karnataka University, Dharwar.

Hampi was once the glorious capital of mighty Vijayanagara empire (1336-1565) that spread from the Deccan Plateau to the tip of the Peninsula.  The empire was founded by two local princes, Harihara and Bukka.  Its successive rulers were great patrons of art, architecture and culture, as the vast ruins of Hampi would indicate.  The rocky terrain is dotted with hills and hillocks and the mighty Tungabhadra river flows through this landscape.  The temperature ranges between 230C and 420C. 

Hampi, about 350 km from Bangalore, attracted international attention when UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.  Till then, it remained largely unknown, nondescript town in Bellary district in Karnataka.  According to Indian historians, the archaeological findings in the 25 square km area have thrown light on the rich cultural linkages of the powerful kingdom of south India.  Some of the porcelain artifacts excavated from the site clearly indicate that Chinese pottery was used in almost every household and it was imported from China in bulk.  Says Dr. K.P. Poonacha, Director (Monuments), Archaeological Survey of India, "The  excavation project bu had to be stopped midway and was resumed only in the nineties.  That's when historians discovered the amazing foresight of the Vijayanagara rulers."

The scientific temperament of the Chalukya and Hoysala kings who ruled Hampi is evident from their meticulous town planning.  Great attention was paid to the civic and sanitary systems.  Excavations have also brought to light the existence of a network of wide, tree-lined roads.  The officers' quarters had stables attached to them and areas were clearly marked out for congregation of people as also markets and public parks- all pointing to an advanced state of civilization.

Documentation of Hampi has been on for several decades.  The documentation available so far is in the form of books, plates of photographs, high quality phote slides which are being presented in workshops and conferences by scholars and scientists, films, video documentation etc.  IGNCA has undertaken the task of preparing an integrated documentation of the site.  This format would include all forms of presentations viz., the visual, audio, video and multimedia enhancements like hot-spots of areas, inclusion of walkthroughs, annotated texts with multiple languages, hyper linking of texts and images.

At the workshop, Prof. Perrie Sylvian Fillozat, Professor of Indology, University of Paris, France released the annotated bibliography of the works on Hampi.  This is available in both print as well as electronic form (CD-ROM).  The need to post the bibliography on the internet was highlighted by the participants.

The discussions included presentations and talks by various scholars, in their respective fields.  Prof. P. Filliozat and Dr. (Smt) Vasundhara Filliozat presented their research work on the site of Hampi.  As a curtain raiser to the Multimedia Documentation, a set of around 60 maps and architectural drawings based on the research of Prof. P. Filliozat for the past two decades were vector-digitized through CIL/IGNCA.  All maps were transformed into high-precision Autocad-readable images.  The professor spoke on the architectural beauty of Hampi, illustrating his talk with the digital images.  A sample image of the famous Vithala Temple's stone chariot is on the cover.  The historic background of some of the temples, were focused by Dr. (Smt.) Vasundhara Filliozat.

The Scientists from ISRO discussed the process of converting the digital-map into conventional large sized photograph.  The digital form of the satellite-images will serve as the main source in the Geographic information systems, which are being worked out by various organizations.

The recording of Vijayotstava, an on-site dance drama was presented by renowned Bharatanatyam exponent and scholar, Dr. Pratibha Prahalad.  IGNCA's Cultural Informatics Lab (CIL) has already produced an interactive CD-ROM on a similar project, on the Muktesvara temple.  Given the experience of CIL, it was decided that it would support the multimedia documentation being carried out by the Kannada University's Computer Division.

Shri Dhanendra Kumar, Secretary, Culture

Mr. Dhanendra Kumar, IAS, has taken over as Secretary, Culture.  Prior to this position, Mr. Kumar held the post of Chairman and Managing Director in Rural Electrification Corporation in the Ministry of Power from May to October 2002.  He had served as Additional Secretary, Dept. of Telecommunication and Secretary, Telecom Commission from September 1988 to May 2002.  He has held several senior positions in Haryana (his home cadre) and in the Central Government.  He has also received the National Citizenship Award from Mother Teresa, in 1966, for his outstanding contribution to the development of Industrial parks.


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