The tragedy of Hampi is matched by little else in history. The largest and richest city in India during its time wiped out of history in a flash. Soldiers walking their horses on packed roads shops bargaining prices in 5 different languages from three continents, the royal herald broadcasting a new decree, all of it coming to a momentary pause as the Kalasandhi pooja is completed with a ringing of the temple bell.
Cities grow, bloom, decay, and die. But Vijayanagar falls from the Top-3, not to 4 or 8, but simply off the chart. Not gradually or step by step, just one violent drop. That fateful 1565. So much changed in 1 day. 23 January 1565, rhe day fortunes changed for a great and mighty city and its once-proud people. After Vijayanagar lost the Battle of Talikota against the Deccani Sultanates, Hampi was plundered. “With fire and sword, with crowbars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been wrought, and wrought so suddenly, on so splendid a city; teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plenitude of prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged, and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description.”
The destruction of Hampi, its temples, its markets was systematic. Not much was spared. If anything was left behind, it was left unusable. A city that had merchants from Persia&Portugal crowding its shops, which displayed gold and gems as though they were common wares, a city whose scepter was the law of the land till the point where land met sea… such a city became “ruins” for 19th-century archaeologists to study.
The 1st Battle of Panipat was in 1526, at the time of which, Babur says, Hindustan was ruled by 5 Muslim rulers and 2 Kafir rulers of the 2, the greater both in the territory and the army is the Raja of Bijanagar. Who at this time ruled from Hampi. Fast forward 40 years to 1566.. the great city of Hampi had died a sudden, painful death.