Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, the magnificent capital of the Vijayanagar Empire is an open-air museum of 20 elaborate temples and other smaller structures.
How often have you struggled to understand the adulation a destination commands from travellers — especially one that is only an overnight bus ride away from you? The grandiose, dramatic ruins of Hampi, the last capital of the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar in Karnataka, attract people from all over the world. I often wondered what it was like, but didn’t make that easy trip to find out for myself. Thanks to Aishwarya, the friend who almost hijacked me to Hampi, I am much the wiser today. What started as just another holiday with friends, lives on in my heart as a love affair with history.
Sadly, this marvellous slice of history also has its own battles — against ugly concretisation in its surrounding areas. And some scars were inflicted by invaders in Medieval India. The scars haven’t quite healed but Hampi can still bowl you over. Hampi is believed to be the Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom in Ramayana ruled by Sugreeva. The legend of Ramayana walks hand in hand with the history of the Vijayanagar kingdom, which lived its golden age under King Krishna Deva Raya in the early 16th century. The ruins of Hampi are strewn across the banks of River Tungabhadra. Thanks to the boulders that add drama to the riverscape, Hampi is now also a destination for those like rock climbing and bouldering.