The Krishna Temple Complex, Hampi: An Exploration of its identity as a Medieval temple in the contemporary context

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Hindu temples in India have been in abundance for centuries. However, many have lost their use over time. They lie vacant and unused on vast tracts of land across the Indian subcontinent, in a time when financial resources for the provision of amenities to serve the local community are hard to come by.

In the case of Hampi, this strain is felt not only by the community inhabiting the area, but the tourism sector as well. Hampi's immense significance as a unique Medieval-city in the Indian subcontinent has increased tourist influx into the region, and added pressure on authorities to provide for amenities and facilities that can sustain the tourism industry. The site comprises near-intact Medieval structures, ruins in stone and archaeologically sensitive open land, making facilitation of provision for tourists extremely difficult. This raises the possibility of reusing an existing temple structure to cater to some of these needs, akin to the Virupaksha Temple Complex and the Hampi Bazaar. But can it be done?

There is a significant absence of research on possibilities of reusing a Hindu Temple. A major reason for this gap in scholarship has been due to the nature of the religion of Hinduism and its adherents. Communal and political forces over time have consistently viewed all Hindu temples are cultural patrimony of the people, despite legal ownership resting with the Government of India.

In addition, a Hindu temple is complex, similar to the religion. The various Vedic rules of construction that are employed for such a structure cannot be divorced from the temple, even if it loses its liturgical use by the loss of its idol. Tampering with the spatial characteristics of a temple would be falsifying history. However, legal and religious associations of the main temple do allow for certain uses. The other parts of the temple complex can similarly be put to uses that are sensitive to the existing historic fabric of the temple complex. However this kind of a phenomenon is highly dependent on the regionality of belief and geography of thought. Other temples do not have the same location or the same circumstances as the Krishna Temple, and therefore reactions to such an endeavor may vary according to the surrounding community and their thought, their belief system. The Krishna Temple is one example out of many. It has prime location, its community has a need for space, it has immense historical value, and it caters to a large Hindu sect, making it an ideal candidate for reuse. This reuse project is a small step in the (right) direction. Only future will determine if it is a success or not.

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Masters Thesis in Historic Preservation Planning


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Adaptive Reuse, Hampi, Krishna Temple, Conservation, Preservation Planning; Sacred Center, Vijayanagara Empire, Karnataka temples


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bibid: 6476504

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