This is a well researched and excellently photographed introduction to Hampi, the sprawling capital of the Vijayanagara empire, the earliest parts of which date back to the 6th century AD. Fritz and Mitchell, who have been leading an international team of architects working on Hampi for over twenty years now, write about virtually every aspect of this city, from it’s mythological associations, and syncretic culture to the nature of its courtly life. After giving an initial background, the authors take the reader on a circuit around some of the most important monuments. The book also has excellent archive photographs and ancient travellers accounts of the city. That said, however, it book tends to be little scholarly—the circuits could be supplemented with more detailed maps, some of the sections like the one on religious cults would be more lucid with subheads for different cults, and the different religious, historical aspects could (at the cost of repetition) be interwoven in the section on ‘Exploring Hampi’ for a more engaging read. Not a book you can read on the lam, but a must for every serious traveller to Hampi.

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