Centre to develop Hampi as iconic tourism site

The stone chariot in Hampi

BENGALURU: Karnataka’s pride, the Hampi monuments, will be one among 10 tourist destinations across India to be developed as ‘Iconic Tourism Site’ by the Union government.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Union Budget on February 1, had proposed to develop 10 prominent tourist sites across the country into iconic tourism destinations through a holistic approach, involving infrastructure and skill development, development of technology, attracting private investment, branding and marketing.

On Tuesday, the selected tourist locations were announced. The Hampi group of monuments from Ballari was one of them. Under this, the Centre will take up 100 Adarsh Smaraks such as toilet blocks, signages, drinking water facilities, pathways and ramps (for the differently abled), seating benches, dustbins, improved parking facilities, ticket counters and better queue management, landscaping and many more.

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The Hampi monuments are located in Hosapete taluk of Ballari district. There are 57 major monuments, most of them falling in the core zone of Hampi, which includes four villages spread across 41.8 sqkm.

The architectural splendour of the monuments resulted in Hampi being declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  These come under the Central Archaeology Department and are maintained by them.

Annually, more than two lakh people, many of them foreigners, visit the destination every year. Some of the monuments have ticket systems, but there are no toilets.“Many visitors use the space behind the monuments to attend to nature’s calls, which is a sad state,’’ an official said.Now, with Hampi chosen for development as an iconic tourism site, the place is set to be spruced up.  This initiative also includes use of technology in interpretation and dissemination of information.