Hampi is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It wasn't on my original itinerary for India, but since nearly everyone I encountered told me I had to go there, I decided to spend a week there.
One of the most compelling reasons for my visit was the fact that nobody could really describe it to me. What is so fascinating about Hampi? Well, there are rocks in the desert - people would say - then scratch their heads and struggle to find a better description.
Rocks in the desert, indeed. Hampi was once the most lucrative town in India, which is a considerable feat, considering the fact that it's hundreds of kilometers from any port or ocean. Merchants and gold vendors flocked here to trade their wares in the bazaars, the remnants of which are still visible. This former throne of power was desecrated by the Muslims and then abandoned for centuries while the jungle came creeping back in.
It was only rediscovered in very recent history, and nearly all of the temples in the desert are in pristine condition. My favorite thing about Hampi is the contrast between the desert and the lush rice paddies, which are fringed by boulders. Read more to find out why Hampi was so incredible!