Hampi is the first site in India to have a concrete management plan and a well drafted Conservation Act to bring together architectural and natural conservation.
It is widely known that heritage can support rural development in general- not just for tourism alone. The attractiveness of rural areas for tourism and recreation can first be associated with the image of rurality. Here rurality is closely related to the traditional and romantic idea of the “good old days” pure and simple lifestyle, intact nature and perfect integration of man in his natural environment. Thus nostalgia of the origins, the need for recuperation of the lost link with nature and the basics of life in an increasingly complex, highly organized, anonymous, congested, stressful urban and inhumane surrounding constitutes the principal attention of rural area. Therefore, its importance to the development of specific rural areas may be critical.
Heritage tourism helps attract visitors, boost local pride and foster economic development in rural areas. Heritage assets make communities more attractive to visitors, residents and businesses which can keep people in the community. It also invests in foundations of authenticity which can create places where people experience a “sense of place”. In this context, an eight pronged strategy seems imperative for heritage based rural tourism:
1. Educate about the value of rural heritage
2. Conserve heritage assets
3. Encourage the use of historic structures through festivals, concerts, and other types of programs
4. Encourage local entrepreneurship and networking among them
5. Encourage agri-based rural tourism
6. Develop heritage tourism potential through local culture, customs, crafts, arts, festivals, geographical landscape, flora, fauna, agriculture, etc.
7. Brand and market regional identity
8. Advocate for public policies that support heritage-based rural development
Historic preservation is important in terms of a range of cultural, social and educational benefits. Preservation of the historic environment supports the social and cultural well-being of residents and contributes to civic pride.
The Kishkinda Trust is committed to and aspires, with each growing day, to help protect its rural heritage and revitalize rural communities, in the World Heritage Site of Hampi.
Under the Rural Tourism Scheme, initiated in the year 2004, TKT has continued to run successful programs integrating conservation with the lives of the people of Anegundi. Amongst its many achievements, some are:
- Traditional houses were refurbished and more guest houses and related business incubators were set-up in the village.
- Solar lights and signage were installed at key locations in the village which were identified by the Gram Panchayat.
- Solid Waste Management activities continue with door-to-door collection of garbage, segregation of waste and composting. The activity has provided a means of income to the people directly involved with the work, as they are able to keep the proceeds from the sale of the compost
- Northern Gate was renovated along with the sculpture garden
- 4 main streets in the village were beautified
- Riverside landscaping was also completed successfully
- The Hoova Café which was set up and is run by village folk providing yet another means of livelihood
- Computer classes were held for the children of the community. The response to them was very encouraging as the children realised that they were able to access the skills required in today’s modern world right in their very own village.
- Twenty five bicycles were made available on hire for tourists to use, to avoid noise and air pollution. Coracle rides have become increasingly popular among tourists and are no longer used solely as a means to cross the river. Adventure tourism has also begun in the village. Tents and kits for camping and adventure tourism have also been procured
- The Temple Tree Library was built in the center of the village, this houses the library founded by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, as well as the Village Public library.
- Awareness, Training and Capacity Building for SHGs and Banana Fiber Crafts were also undertaken
- The Santhe- weekly market was also rejuvenated
Under the Endogenous Tourism Project, which is a joint initiative of the Govt. of India and the United Nations Development Programme, TKT has focused on capacity building within the community in the area of tourism and its allied activities, ensuring sustainable livelihoods by yet more means of income generation.
To ensure the proper management and functioning of all the facilities developed via the Rural Tourism Scheme, support was provided towards capacity building by UNDP in areas such as Hospitality, House Keeping, Food & Beverages and Basic Engineering for repairs and maintenance. Women members of the community were introduced to book keeping and given training in basic accountancy. Some youths were enrolled in the Kannada University- Hampi for Guides Training and Tourism Hospitality Training.
Thus, TKT has successfully restored and conserved 6 traditional houses to inspire further conservation. Every house that TKT conserves and restores is used for activities such as guesthouses, crafts shop or offices. Many students and professionals from all over the world visit and work with the Trust to learn from and to offer their services to the village- traditional architecture, infrastructure, sanitation and planning for the future. Besides students of architecture, we also run a program involving local government school children, teaching them about typologies of architecture and through our Education through the Performing Arts program, messages of respecting and maintaining natural and man made heritage is imparted.
These traditional houses are restored completely or partially, in keeping with the traditional methods and architectural style. As they realize the significance of their property’s cultural value as balanced with economic returns, the owners shall be committed and equal stakeholders in the project, financially and ideologically.
In one of our recent projects, we have proposed that about 27 houses and 8 public spaces in Anegundi village shall be restored as business incubators. These ‘incubator’ houses shall be put to a variety of uses: project houses, administrative office, interpretation centre, guest houses for tourists, cafes, restaurants, bangle and mehndi shop, dhobi house, cyber cafe, crafts shops, saree & sarongs shop, child care center, spa and health resort, healthy foods bar and artist residency- to name a few.
The intent here is to create a living example of how conservation can promote other sub-sectors of the cultural industries such as traditional building arts and crafts, while serving as the ideal backdrop for promotion and display of the sectors such as performing and ritual arts, handicrafts, community living and heritage tourism.
Under its MOU with CEPT, Ahmedabad, TKT has had proactive programs that not only document but also take on the guiding, monitoring, repairs and rebuilding of traditional houses within Anegundi.