Hampi

Forgotten empire

Hampi is one of the most spectacular landscapes in India. Gigantic granite rocks are lying around everywhere, coloured from reddish to grey. These rocks are collecting and reflecting the heat of the burning sun. I visited Hampi in April, the sun was close to zenith. Inbetween the ruins of a destroyed city spread all over the place. Hampi has been the capital of what an archeologist once entitled as the "Forgotten Empire": the kingdom of Vijayanagar (= city of victory). It existed between 1530 and 1650 and covered whole South India up to the latitude of today's Hyderabad.

Deteriorated tank for ritual washings
Deteriorated tank for ritual washings

The fall

The saying "pride goeth before a fall" became grievous truth. First, the Vijayanagar kings were clever in playing off their northern muslim rivals against each other. But the tensions and demands rose too high - and as a consequence, the northern muslim rulers united against the Vijayanagar kings: 500,000 men infantry, 100,000 horsemen, 1000(!) elephants. The army of Vijayanagar was similarly big.

It came to a gigantic clash, a "win-or-lose" battle. According to contemporary traveller reports, the blood of this battle has coloured the river red. The army of Vijayanagar was defeated, the head of the king speared on a lance, and the remainder of the army fled in all directions. After that, a horrible chopping began and within one week, the previously mighty and prosperous capital was completely destroyed.

Today, you are sitting in deserted ruins between toppled granite pillars and dried up grass - just hearing the wind.