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watch towerHampi was once the glorious capital of the mighty Vijayanagar Empire (1336-1565), which extended from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and from the Deccan plateau to the tip of the Indian peninsula. Founded in the middle of the 14th century by two local princes, Hakka and Bukka, the Vijayanagar Empire came to be a celebrated for its might and wealth and as a showpiece of imperial magnificence. The city was sacked, pillaged and burnt in 1565, after the combined armies of the Muslim sultanates of the Deccan defeated the Vijayanagar military and the king fled the capital.

Vijayanagar kings were patron of art and architecture as evident by the vast ruins of Hampi. Much of Vijayanagar's 26 sq. kms capital city waits to be discovered. Along the banks of the river, amidst the giant boulders, underneath the wild vegetation, there are secrets and treasures still unknown. The destruction and pillage of Vijayanagar was so sudden and so total, that the re-creation of the city could mean many years of patient work. Some recent excavations have unearthed beautifully preserved temples, one of them underground, and the ruins of what must have been once splendid palaces and gateways.

The broken city of a glorious 14th century empire might speak of man's capacity for senseless destruction but it also tells of his infinite talent to restore and rebuild.

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