Heavy rains in Karnataka’s Ballari district over the last few days have damaged one of the structures at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hampi. According to police officials, a portion of the 16-pillar salu mantapa, located near the Virupaksha Temple, collapsed on Sunday.
An official at the Hampi Police Station said, “Due to the recent rains, eight out of the 16 pillars of the structure have fallen. There was continuous rain for 2-3 hours, which led to the loosening of the soil beneath the structure. There are no barriers or supporting structures. Even before the rains, the pillars had started leaning.”
He added, “We will be informing the Archaeological Survey of India. No restoration work has begun as of now.”
Over the past couple of days, there were conflicting reports about whether the structure had collapsed or not.
According to data from the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, the area (Hosapete taluk) received an average of 47 mm rainfall over the last three days.
This is not the first time that this structure has been under threat due to weather conditions. In 2015 and 2013, too, there was similar damage due to rains and loosening of soil under the structure.
This development comes after many such world heritage sites were underwater for days in August due to rains and subsequent flooding in north Karnataka.
The ancient town of Hampi, the seat of power of the erstwhile Vijayanagar empire, is a tourist hotspot. It was the only place in India and the second choice in the New York Times’ list of ‘52 Places to Go in 2019’.
The ruins and remains of the glorious 14th century kingdom were recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 while in February 2018, it was chosen by the union government as one of the 10 tourist destinations across India to be developed as an ‘Iconic Tourism Site’.
The place is best known for several Hindu temples constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture. However, Hampi’s most famous icon is the stone chariot in the Vittala Temple. Over six lakh tourists, including foreigners, flock to the heritage site annually.