Restoration of the Gagan Mahal Pavilion (Anegundi, Karnataka)
The Gagan Mahal in the village of Anegundi, is situated across from the ruins of the medieval city of Hampi Vijayanagara, on the opposite side of the Tungabhadra river. A rare example of a complete pavillion from the sixteenth century Vijayanagara period, it is structurally intact and includes charming balconies surveying the adjacent village plaza and fanciful towers that emerge from the upper storey.
The specific objectives of the Gagan Mahal project were to:
- Restore the historic monument in an authentic manner;
- Highlight the building as an example of the finest Vijayanagara architecture;
- Showcase the monument as a centre of art, history, pluralism, tolerance and women’s empowerment for which the Vijayanagara dynasty was known;
- Revive the palace as the locus of village life and as a space for local women to showcase and sell their wares;
- Implement the standards of conservation set for the preservation of World Heritage Sites as per the World Heritage Convention
Under the direction of the Bengaluru office of the Deccan Heritage Foundation (DHF), the restoration of the Gagan Mahal was completed in the summer of 2022. Now rehabilitated, the Gagan Mahal represents not only an outstanding example of sixteenth century Vijayanagara palace architecture, but is also, once again, the centre of village economic and social activity. The restored building is available to the local community for the enhancement of their skills and livelihood, re-establishing the plaza as the commercial hub of the village.
During the course of its restoration, several hidden architectural details of the monument were uncovered. A large wall painting of an elephant, hidden beneath several layers of lime coating, was brought to light. The basement of the monument was excavated to the original ground level, revealing the probability that Gagan Mahal had once been an elaborate gateway into an important district of the settlement. A staircase leading up the tower of Gagan Mahal was also unearthed.
Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, Government of Karnataka
Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Anegundi-Hampi Chapter
Improved Public Space: the restored village square in front of the monument aimed to rejuvenate the village by being the space of public gathering during national and religious festivals
Tourism: Is positioned to attract more tourist capital into the village