Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
East of Goa in the Indian state of Karnataka is Hampi, home to the stunning, stepped-pyramidal superstructures called vimanas that inspired our newest collection of the same name. It is such a place of beauty, it appeared in the epic Ramayana under the name Kishkinda and its 6,000 acre cache of art, shrines, palaces and temples is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Which, for residents, can prove to be both a blessing and a hardship. Under the requirements of the 1986 UNESCO zoning, the local population is required to maintain the facades of the buildings. Widening of the roads is not permitted, nor is any new construction; and when construction does take place, only specific traditional choices in materials are allowed.
The Kishkinda Trust a.k.a. “TKT” to the Rescue
“It’s no wonder heritage is often perceived by the local population as hampering development rather than being a source of their empowerment,” sympathizes Shama Pawar Shapiro, the Founder Trustee of The Kishkinda Trust (TKT). TKT focuses on helping residents of Hampi’s Anegundi – a charming hamlet of humble, whitewashed flat-roofed houses that contain inner labyrinths – to embrace heritage-based businesses, including adaptive re-use of traditional structures as tourism facilities. “Efforts to conserve traditional settings impose certain constraints on the local population,” she continues. “Linking heritage to livelihood is not always an easy task…However, for the villagers of Anegundi to be truly involved in conserving their historical surroundings, they need to be self-sufficient.”
To enable the villagers of Anegundi to become self-sufficient, TKT has been focusing on turning conservation into a source of income. They have helped local women artisans generate a comfortable livelilhood creating handicrafts from readily-available, eco-friendly materials like the banana fiber. This plentiful, low-impact resource is extracted from the trunk of the nearby banana plant – and has proved that TKT’s model is not only workable, but economically viable. In fact, orders continue to flow in from throughout India for local hand-crafted items including coasters and tablemats.
TKT’s Grassroots Work to Support Culture and Creativity
TKT also helps the local community at a grassroots level by supporting creative endeavors that enrich and empower people’s sense of place and identity. For TKT, if it’s integral to culture, it falls within the scope of their efforts at conservation, which means they are involved in everything from ecology to cuisine, crafts, design, agriculture, technology, education, markets and festivals. “In this process of reaffirming ties between tradition, everyday commerce and the quality of life,” adds Pawar Shapiro, “people shall share their fruits of labor with the visitors in the celebration called ‘LIFE’.
ISHARYA’s Pledges Proceeds from Sale of Hampi Jewelry Collection to Support Hampi Schools
ISHARYA Hampi Jewelry Collection
To help support the amazing work and contribution of TKT to the overall health and vitality of Hampi, ISHARYA recently pledged an upfront contribution from the new Hampi collection of Rs. 50,000 INR. At the close of the Fall/Winter season, a further Rs. 50,000 INR will be donated, for a total of 1 lakh rupees (approximately $2000 USD). “It’s an honor and a joy to support the work of The Kishkinda Trust,” adds ISHARYA co-founder Gauri Tandon. “We were so inspired by the beauty and majesty of both the people and the amazing vimanas that characterize our new Hampi collection that we are honored to be able to give back.”
ISHARYA’s proceeds will help both the women artisans and the children, via the Trust’s performing arts programs in Anegundi’s government schools, which teach traditional music and dance. With our donation, a group of 20 young children were able to begin their practice for a dance recital about nature and flowers. The children were inspired by our logo, so they incorporated it in the form of floral props for their show.
ISHARYA's Class at Anegundi
ISHARYA's Class at Anegundi
Floral prop inspired by ISHARYA Logo made by an Anegundi student