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Youths destroying Hampi ruins, video found to be real

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A recent viral video that showing vandalism found to be real.
  • The video showed a few men vandalising the site by pushing the pillars one by one.
  • The report has been submitted to the deputy commissioner of Ballari, seeking further action

 

An official report says it was an ‘act of miscreants’, but doesn’t mention if the incident occurred recently or a year ago, as ASI claims.

The recent viral video that showed vandalism at the ancient ruins of Hampi has been found to be real. An inquiry report accessed by ThePrint confirms that according to the assistant commissioner of Hospet taluka, Lokesh P.N., it was indeed an act of “miscreants”.

 

The report has been submitted to the deputy commissioner of Ballari, seeking further action, including a thorough investigation and increased vigilance at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

However, the report does not mention whether the incident occurred recently or a year ago, as claimed by officials of the Archaeological Survey of India, who said they had found cobwebs and termites on the pillars, indicating the passage of time.

The ruins at Hampi date back to the prosperous Vijayanagara empire, founded in the 14th century AD, considered to be one of the most powerful and prosperous empires in southern India.

What the video showed

Soon after the video went viral, police and district administration officials landed at the spot where the pillars near the ancient Vishnu temple, located behind the elephant stables, was found lying on the ground. The video showed a few men vandalising the site by pushing the pillars one by one.

Since then, the Hampi police have already launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

“We conducted a joint inspection (with ASI officials) and we found that the pillars which have been ‘re-fixed’ at the Vishnu temple in Hampi had been toppled by some miscreants,” Lokesh wrote in his report.

The team of archaeologists, police officials and district officials have also made some recommendations after the incident. They have sent a detailed report to the ASI headquarters in Delhi, asking it to restore these pillars to their original condition.

They have also advised the ASI to immediately increase the number of CCTV cameras around the monument and tighten security by adding more men near the heritage site.

 

ASI’s take

Hampi was recently named the second must-see heritage site in the world by The New York Times, and the video has caused damage to the ASI’s image.

Speaking to ThePrint, deputy superintending archaeologist for Hampi, Kalimuthu, said the pillars were put up as part of the restoration work conducted by the ASI between 2010-11.

“When ASI began work on restoring the Hampi temple area, it was almost a debris. We have somehow managed to put up the pillars and restored the look of the temple as it would have been during the Vijayanagara empire,” he said.

“We believe these pillars have been felled long ago, and as soon as we got to know about the incident through the video that was being circulated, we filed a police complaint. We are conducting an investigation on the matter.”