HAMPI: The cultural carnival, ‘Hampi Utsav’ was off to a colourful start at Eduru Basavanna main stage at Hampi, once the capital of the mighty Vijayanagara empire, on Thursday with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah offering floral tribute to the statue of Goddess Bhuvaneshwari.
After inaugurating the event, Siddaramaiah recalled the history of the empire and the man behind the start of the utsav and clarified why utsav is being organised despite the prevailing drought in the state.
Explaining the reasons behind starting Hampi Utsav in the 1990s, Siddaramaiah said: “When I was the finance minister, late M P Prakash, the then minister for rural development, had approached me to stress the need of starting Hampi Utsav. He had told me that Mysore Dasara has been celebrated for years and it was started when the rulers of Vijayanagara were ruling Mysuru. As Vijayanagara kings started Dasara, it would be a tribute to them if Hampi Utsav was started. I accepted his suggestion. I’m happy to take part in the utsav today.”
Recalling the contributions of Vijayanagara rulers in art and culture of the country, the Chief Minister said Krishnadevaraya was a secular king, who never discriminated against people on the basis of caste and creed and always supported culture of all castes and religions.
“Hampi Utsav was not celebrated last year due to drought. This year, we are celebrating it despite drought in order to promote culture. The state government has been taking all measures to tackle drought, which is not severe when compared to that of last year,” the CM added.
Siddaramaiah said 139 taluks in the state have been suffering from drought and the loss is estimated at Rs 16,000 crore. He said the Centre has been requested to provide Rs 4,000 crore under the NDRF to tackle drought. As Bidar, Kalaburagi and parts of Raichur have been hit by floods, the Centre has been requested to provide `3,300 crore, he added.
‘Hampi by Sky’, a helicopter ride being organised as part of the utsav, has been receiving good response from visitors. Over 450 people flew around Hampi in the last three days and had an aerial view of Hampi’s major landmarks.