Hampi Vijayanagara

Authors: John M. Fritz and George Michell
Photographer: John Gollings
Size of Book: 200 x 140mm (Paperback)
No. of Pages: 160
First Published: 2003
ISBN: 978-8184956023

It was here that scholars flocked, seeking the appreciation they had heard about. It was here, that great Elephants were housed in their own stables, maintained like horses as they received utmost care. It was here, that gold ran like water as one of the most benevolent and the richest kings of South India reigned supreme. Hampi was the seat of the Vijayanagara empire, and it was here that Krishnadevaraya sat in court with his Ashtadiggajas, his eight Telugu poets. Here, odes were composed to the greatness of the Hindu gods, and here, great temples were cut into the precipice of river-locked hills, virtually inaccessible by land. Here, great boulders stand as if on tip-toe, daring gravity to do her worst. Here, an old temple stands, its columns sign the seven notes of music when tapped. A great statue of one of the avatars of Vishnu, the Lion-headed Narasimha, stands watching as visitors flock by the hundreds of thousands every year. A temple, shaped like a lotus, stands amidst dust-shrouded landscapes, which hide more architectural treasures, waiting to be discovered. And here, there stands a temple atop a hillock, where the great Prince Rama is supposed to have wept for his wife after she was kidnapped by the demon Ravana. Hampi is not only one of the most relevant South Indian tourist sites, but it is also purportedly the location where several chapters in the Ramayana unfolded, where Rama met those who would become his greatest allies: the vanaras. Perhaps that is why the monkeys still roam the landscape, as if hiding the secret mankind was once privy to: at Hampi, one will find the silent rocks left behind by Mahmud of Ghazni, rocks which bear no gold, few idols and no untouched temples. Here, there lies a world waiting to be discovered anew with every single visit. And in visiting it, one will find a wonder that can only be understood in the realm of dreams.