The ruined city of Vijayanagar, better known as Hampi, the name of the local village nearby in the state of Karnataka, is fascinating. Set in a surreal and beautiful boulder-strewn landscape, Vijayanagar between the 14th and 16th centuries was the most powerful Hindu capital in the Deccan. 16th century travelers and visitors were astonished by its size and apparent wealth.
Vijayanagar’s prosperity was based on the control of the spice trade route to the south and the cotton industry of the southeast. However, in the second half of the 16th century the thriving city was devastated by a 6-month Muslim siege. Thanks to the onslaught, most monuments seem much older than their four or five hundred years. However, the serene river setting and boulder-strewn landscape add to Vijayanagar’s continued appeal.
Although spread across some 26km, the ruins of Vijayanagar are mostly concentrated in two distinct areas. Many ruins lie in the area in and around Hampi Bazaar and nearby riverside area, which also encompasses the city’s most sacred enclave of temples and ghats. East of Hampi Bazaar is the UNESCO-listed 16th century Vittala Temple, the undisputed highlight of the ruins. There’s an ornate stone chariot in the temple’s courtyard. At one time, the stone wheels were capable of turning.
The second area is south of the river and just northwest of Kamalapuram village, where here are the remains of palaces, elephants stables, guard houses, temples and pavilions.
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