By SHAMA PAWAR SHAPIRO
Republished from UNESCO Power of Creativity Magazine Vol 1 with permission from and the courtesy of UNESCO New Delhi.
Other articles published in this series –
- Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – A Magnificent Living Heritage
- Amber Fort – A Conglomeration of Ancient Legacies
- Complete Itinerary For Train Travel To World Heritage Sites In India
Linking heritage to livelihood is not always an easy task, as efforts to conserve traditional settings impose certain certain constraints on the local population. No road widening, no possibility of new constructions; the obligation to maintain traditional facades of houses and to use specific traditional materials for construction… It’s no wonder heritage is often perceived by the local population as hampering development rather than being a source of their empowerment. The Kishkinda Trust remedies such a view by bringing locals into heritage based small-scale businesses. Among the Trust’s many programmes is the adaptive re-use of traditional houses as tourism facilities.
Ms. Shama Pawar Shapiro, the Founder Trustee of The Kishkinda Trust, recounts her experience.
Anegundi, the cradle city of Hampi, is located to the north of the Tungabhadra River. The village has a distinct character, with humble, whitewashed flat-roofed houses with inner labyrinths that contrast with the four main roads that form a simple square.
With its many ancient temples, Anegundi falls within the core zone of the Hampi World Heritage Site, declared by UNESCO in 1986, thus requiring the local population to maintain its traditional buildings and appearance. However, for the villagers of Anegundi to be truly involved in conserving their historical surroundings, they needed to be self-sufficient.
The Kishkinda Trust (TKT) was born out of this simple insight: that for any heritage conservation to take place in Anegundi, it must first and foremost benefit the people of Anegundi economically, culturally and socially. Raising community awareness and participation in heritage conservation for development are conducted from the community training centre established with UNESCO support in 2001.
With further support from the Ministry of Tourism and UNDP, TKT initiated the Rural Tourism Project in 2004, aiming to link tourism with the preservation of the physical and cultural characteristics of Anegundi village. By converting several old houses into tourism facilities, the project has provided expanding employment opportunities to the local people, enhancing their lives.
Among our activities, the rangoli, or clean street competition, was one which made a huge impact on the improvement of the village atmosphere. Rangoli is a simple and traditional method of keeping the entry of the house pleasant and pure, with the floor swept with cow dung and decorated with rice or stone powder patterns. The competitions greatly encouraged the women villagers to be part of the heritage conservation endeavour.
The simple yet versatile spaces of the old houses really spur the imagination of The Kishkinda Trust’s members to develop various uses for the structures. The buildings have been converted into attractive guest houses, craft shops, libraries and restaurants. Seeing the growing interest among the community is exciting. No fewer than 90 house owners have approached us so far to restore their houses as tourism facilities.
There is no dearth of inspiration for TKT as it comes from what surrounds us. The striking boulder formations, the river and the combination of rice and banana fields contrasting with massive stone structures create an atmosphere of miniature paintings.
The simplicity of the village setting of Anegundi provides a real sense of comfort that any visitors would be happy to experience, especially after seeing the awesome monuments of Hampi. Today, several areas within the village have become small oases, inspiring visitors and the local community alike with the benefits of conserving heritage as source of local empowerment. This is a real achievement for us, and one we’re very proud of.
Note – Do visit Anegundi when you visit Hampi for the annual Go Heritage Run in January.