Have you wondered why people flock to Machu Picchu–the Inca ruins, Palenque ruins in Mexico, the Colosseum in Italy, Tikal ruins in Guatemala or closer home Hampi? Why are these heaps of stones and broken monuments of the bygone era so alluring? Ruins have inspired poets, artists, writers, archaeologists and architects, becoming an object of intrigue for man. French philosopher Denis Diderot told French artist Hubert Robert who is known for his paintings on ruins, “Do you realise that ruins have a poetry of their own? You don’t know why ruins give such pleasure? I will tell you. Everything dissolves, everything perishes, everything passes, only time goes on. What is my existence compared to crumbling stone?”
For a long time now, ruins have been a subject of fascination. These man-made structures that once exuded life, over time, fall into a state of disrepair. Despite having become progressively derelict due to weathering and scavenging, obsession with these abandoned and decaying spots is widespread.
Ruins tell us stories of the past and perhaps of our future too. They honour kings, leaders and kingdoms and invoke melancholy and nostalgia, and fuel imagination. Narrating history and connecting people and places, sometimes, they are our only connection with the past. American social and cultural geographer Bradley Garrett said, “Ruins may be decaying, they are not dead, they are filled with possibilities for wondrous adventure, inspiring visions, quiet moments, peripatetic playfulness, dystopia preparation and artistic potential.”
Nothing is permanent on the face of earth, be it buildings or kingdoms. It talks about our impermanent existence on this planet and to what extent we go to claim it as our own.