Vijaya Nagara – “City of Victory” was the capital city of the historic Vijaya Nagara Empire which extended over South India. The city’s ruins, surrounding the modern-day village of Hampi, are in Ballari district, Karnataka. Hampi’s history starts with popular folklore.
Two local chieftains, Hakka and Bukka, report to their guru an unusual sight they saw during a hunting expedition. A hare chased by their hound suddenly turns courageous and starts chasing the hound. Vidyaranya, the guru, tells them that the place is so special and asks them to establish their local capital at this place. Thus, the seed of an empire was sown. Over the next 200 plus years (1336 AD – 1565 AD) 4 dynasties ruled Vijaya Nagara.
Hampi is an ancient city of ruins, grand temples and bazaars at every turn, larger than life boulders, starkly contrasting greenery and the churning waters of the Tungabhadra River.
I, Atul, a research scholar in Tourism from Pondicherry University, a heritage lover, was looking for an opportunity in UNESCO-WHV and nailed it at Hampi.
The journey to Hampi, starting from Hospete station and returning to Hospete station, changed me a lot, within a 14 days’ time frame.
We came as volunteers and we returned with satisfaction and new friends.
I reached early in the morning and met our team leader Manjunath, an enthusiastic person, with the owner of Ganesh guest-house and a knowledgeable resource person, Gangadhar. We had a common friend, Dr.John M. Fritz, Archaeologist, USA (Documentation In charge of Vijayanagar Research Project) and last but not the least, the chef master, Shashidhar – we never had the same dish twice in this time span.
We were a small group – me, my wife and Mr. Jesus from Mexico, a fashion designer whom we met the other day.
On the first 2 days, we surveyed the work ground for monument cleaning and the primary school and made plans for our activities. Then the momentum raised and we moved on. The best part of the camp that I liked was the primary schools, 1 at Prakash Nagar, at the back stretch of Virupaksha temple in the first week and second, at Gangavathi. This is a one man school for the last 10 years – he is the teacher, mentor, everything to those kids and also a bird and environment lover.
Those kids brought out our childhood back within us – we were playing, dancing, singing, teaching whatever we could.
We made drawings related to social messages, community awareness and in cartoon form, for easy understanding.
The work camp brought more of satisfaction than learning.