Vijayanagara, once one of the mightiest Hindu empires, has now been reduced to amere village. Through extensive research and restoration efforts, dedicated conservationists and the ASI have made every possible attempt to restore the lost brilliance of the Vijayanagara Empire. Set amid splendid rocks and large boulders, which look grander than the royal architecture, Hampi has the rare accolade of being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural beauty as well. Indeed, withthe turbulent Tungabhadra river flowing on one side and rocks and boulders poised inan amazing balancing act, Hampi presents a sight to behold.

In Vijayanagara Empire acclaimed photographer Raghu Rai, through his passionate response to the site, takes the reader on a visual experience akin to being transported into the world the way it must have existed centuries ago. His photographs have an archival and ancient feel to them, and yet succinctly capture not only the depths and details of the ruins but also fleeting experiences. Though the grandeur evaporated some 400 years ago, Raghu Rai’s photographs breathe life into the silent stones of history.

Life in Hampi village in the early 70s

Square watchtower and front wall of zenana enclosure, 1970 

Brutalised dancing females at Hazararama temple, 1970

The main street of Hampi has changed drastically over the years, 1970

End of Hampi bazaar street, 1970

Way to Virupaksha temple through mandapas and Hampi bazaar, 1970

Badavilinga – a monolithic linga, 1970

Excavations and conservation being done by Archaeological Survey of India, 1970

Talarighat gateway, 1970

Visitors at Chariot Shrine, 1970

King’s balance with two-storey gateway, 1970

On way to Hampi, 1970

Krishnadevaraya Statue in Anegundi, 2013

Devotees outside the main temple, 2011

Tiruvengalanatha temple, 2011

Chakratirtha along Tungabhadra river and sculptures of gods carved on the rocks, 2011

Bull and the rock, On way to Hampi, 2013

Back entrance of Vitthala temple complex, 2011

Meditating in the ruins, 2011

Kadalekalu Ganesha temple, 2011

Mahamandapa Vitthala temple, 2011

Interior of queen’s bath, zenana enclosure, 2011

Raghunath temple, Malyavanta hill, 2011

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