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Most people come to Hampi to visit the Vijayanagar city ruins not far south of town. The area around Hampi consists of a barren landscape dotted with numerous rounded boulders. Vijayanagar used to be the capital of one of the largest empires India has ever known, the Vijayanagar Empire. The city thrived on spice and cotton trade and during the 16th century it reached its peak. During that time Vijayanagar was home to some 500,000 people and the city covered an area of 33 km². Seven fortifications protected Vijayanagar against invaders, but that didn't stop the confederacy of Deccan sultans in 1565. They ransacked the city and opened up the area for Muslim control.

The largest of the ruins at Vijayanagar is the Virupaksha Temple with its 52 m gopuram (pyramidal gateway). The Vittala Temple is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was never finished, but the building has been preserved remarkably well. It boasts beautiful sculptural decorations. Other interesting temples include the Achyutaraya Temple, the Lotus Mahal, the Elephants Stable, the Royal Enclosure and the Queen's Bath. The ancient Hampi bazaar has been reoccupied and is once again the center of a thriving trade.

There are several hotels and restaurants in Hampi, but it is also possible to stay in Hospet, 13 km away, where more facilities are available. Hampi is 1450 km south of Delhi.


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