Hampi Nature Sanctuary

The climbers or just people who like wild and quiet places are almost amazed to know that such a huge uninhabited area of hills and boulders is there north of Hampi and Sanapur, Basapur or Mallapur. They don’t even know that leopards,bears and all type of other strange and wild creatures live there. “Bears? Leopards? In a place like this? No.” is the common response. But it’s a perfect place for them to live even perfect for tigers who have stayed for a very long time here. Most of this wild area has now been exploited for trees and rock blasting by people who sell those materials.

The Sanctuary Project

LINK TO  'Valley of Kings'


 An Indian guy called Bobby who runs ‘Hampi boulders’ guest house near Basapur has somehow gained control of a big chunk of it which he has turned into a wildlife sanctuary. Talking to him its obvious that he has a real love and respect for the nature and has therefore stopped the rock blasting, live tree cutting and hunting in the area now known as the sanctuary. He was clever enough in the beginning to employ the main people involved in the tree cutting and stone blasting as guards so they didn’t lose their livelyhood which means 30 or so people with green shirts and pants armed with whistles and sticks stopping people who want to cut live trees, blow up rocks or go hunting. One time a guy whistled at me while I was carrying 20 litres of water back to the cave but I had a better whistle and just whistled back twice as loud. Then I talked with them later and arranged to go and properly meet Bobby.

THIS MAP (below) IS FROM GEOQUEST CLIMBING GUIDEBOOK ‘GOLDEN BOULDERS’ and shows the sanctuary but he is trying to gain more of the area for the animals to continue existing somehow. The border that was most important for us was the deep valley we collect water from and so an obvious natural dividing line line. It separates  the protected area from the unprotected area to  the North (Paraport etc.)


Bobby is doing amazing things to save at least a part of the wild area and now we have agreed with the local villagers of Yahadeli (adeli) who never see 'tourists' except when we appear like lost in time saddhus from the forest and have always been ultra respectful not mentioning the blasting except in a casual type of non judgemental way. When he told me that Paraport was not in his protected area I was devastated.

 When I asked him if I can go and climb alone or in a small group without harming or changing the nature (bolting, chaining, painting rocks etc.) he said yes and seemed suprised and happy that one person wanted to live there. No humans stay for any amount of time in these wild hills in the last years except me, some friends and the tribal shepherds may be there for the 2 or 3 months when there should be easily available water everyhere, July to September. But he also said he doesn’t want big noisy groups of climbers making huge fires because they are scared, drilling metal bolts and safety chained walks and screaming like excited little kids in the night therefore 'annoying' the animals.
 Large groups of people doing trance parties or drumming is also not part of the plan. There are loads of other places to do parties or floodlight climbing. He has obviously witnessed big groups of idiot foreigners before and thought it's a bad idea for that area. Places where they do the illegal blasting which is done mostly at night anyway would be ideal for raves as the animals are already scared from the explosions. The huge lights people now use for night climbing in Hampi are almost the same as the ones used by the poachers so the animals won't be able to tell the difference. If anybody wondered why there was a big gap in listed areas between the lakes and Paraport that is the reason. Even though there are 100’s of problems we all agreed to leave it out of the Golden boulders guide book. Anyway most people alone are too scared to exist there. My local friend Ragu said, "you must stay awake all night and burn rubber tyres" I found the image quite funny. I've seen people who went with a week of food and came back the next day gibbering about about boa constricters and bears. They would be better off in the safety of Goancorner resort with the formidable Sharmilla (no bear will get near you with her as a protector) or Lakshmi goldenbeach resort with nice Prasad. There are enough boulders near to the resorts to keep most people busy for 2 or 3 seasons anyway.
YAHDELI the first time I visited (2001)

The people had never seen a foreigner in their village before but had known I was in the forest as some woodcutters had seen me, looked at my cave and asked for water and rice and dhal which I gave. When I appeared one day the whole village especially the kids wanted to see what type of creature would stay near to their village in the ‘dangerous wild area’. They soon found out about the whole climbing thing and began to understand.
The village is about 3km from the bouldering areas of Paraport. Paraport is an hour or so walk from Sanapur lakes. 

 They are much less wealthy than the people over here in Hampi or Sanapur as they don’t have water for irrigation but plenty enough good drinking water. It’s in a very dry area so the cash crops like rice, bananas or sugar cane etc. are just not possible. But we were desperate to stop the blasting at that one hill Paraport which is just out of the sanctuary so not protected.

  It’s a sacred hill and well developed with concentrated areas of superb boulder problems and some special quality stone. I lived just in that area for 5 or 6 years without using guest houses doing the classics often joined by Squib, Hari and others. Then I moved on to the next hill and new areas in the protected Sanctuary to avoid watching the destruction. 

 We were happy when they agreed that’s it’s better left for climbing and have since then stuck to their word. They just blast somewhere else as there are rocks in every direction from the village so don’t lose out even one rupee anyway. They didn't know the rocks were important to us and others until more climbers came.

 We respect them for that as it means they actually respect us and what we are doing there.
When I had first asked Bobby "What about Paraport" he informed me that it’s only just outside the sanctuary so he can’t do anything to help us. It’s in the control of the forest department who seem content to turn a blind eye to blasting as long as they get a decent amount of the profit. I was gutted to learn this and started to imagine all the plateaus of Paraport turn to boulderless treeless quarried areas in a very short time. But we could do something as they knew us and by asking them nicely they took it seriously. They like us much more than department people with authority who tend to always act from a position of superiority talking down to them.
 On the other hand we treat them as equals even trying to make them feel better than us. They are the locals after all and we don't want to spoil their livelyhood.
 This cave is free (of humans)


 The blasting goes on at night so the nocturnal bears, leopards etc. are scared and will run away and go to quieter places like the new blastless Paraport which borders the protected area so is essentially now part of it, the actual sanctuary or places where tractors just can’t reach at all. The nocturnal animals space gets smaller and smaller all the time.
 Without the trees and rocks there will also be no animals living there. When I first moved to Paraport there was bear shit everywhere and I would hear them all the time and sometimes see or meet them at sunset or early morning. They also have a strong sense of smell and a special sense which enables them to feel your energy and if you are afraid or dangerous. Maybe they 'smell the danger'. Also at night come out huge amounts of termites and ants which pleases the bears greatly as it’s a major part of their diet. I could have never imagined people turning up with tractors in the middle of the night blowing up all the rocks. 

 I glimpsed the future and thought the place was finished and would become another wasteland plateau like so many others with every rock and hill gone. The fact that we already had good relations with the villagers helped us and maybe some respect for us living there for so long in peace with the environment and the animals.. They never touched our luggage in any of the caves even when we were gone for ages and we knew they had passed by. Nearby to the real Hampi areas that just couldn’t happen for very long.....locals would realize somebody is staying in a cave and you would be robbed.

LINK TO  'Valley of Kings'


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