For hundreds of years the small village of Hampi housed gods and kings. It was the capital of rulers who presided over a magnificent empire. Its rugged landscape made it impenetrable to invading forces. The boulders that surround Hampi were used to build fortresses enclosing the city. Sculptors portrayed the beauty of their kings and gods in the hard granite.
Legend has it that the mythical monkey kingdom was centered around Hampi. It was also the birthplace of a Hindu deity endowed with immortality in battle. Many pivotal moments in the history of the Hindi gods took place here. Two holy rivers converge just before they reach the Hampi Valley. Most people these days no longer respect the holiness of the rivers, though. They no longer remove their shoes as a sign of reverence.
After hundreds of years of rule, Hampi had been transformed in to a vast network of temples. People now travel from all over the world to visit this amazing place and learn about its history.
The tourism industry is growing rapidly in Hampi. Before, tourists used to stay in caves because there were no guesthouses or hotels. Now this has changed completely and there are over twenty guesthouses where tourists can spend the night at comfortable prices. This has been good for the local economy because a lot of people depend completely on offering food, tours, and souvenirs to visitors as their only source of income. There are about one thousand families in this situation.
In 1999 the Hampi ruins were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means that no one can live within three miles of the monuments. This also means that thousands of locals face forced relocation from their homes, which are in and around the ruins.
Without proper systems for waste disposal, the locals are left to clean up after the tourists and sometimes this becomes a huge problem. The plan is to allow tourists to only be able to visit on guided tours, under strict supervision. This will protect the ruins and the surrounding area.
Large hotels that will be built in the area will diminish the overcrowding, but at the same time they will encroach on the wildlife that lives in the area.
One man is on a mission to protect the land and preserve the beauty of the place.