Seven Must-Read Books on Hampi

There’s no doubt Hampi is a visual treat for the hungry traveler in us. But there’s more than what meets the eye because there’s ample text available in the form of books for those who wish to make the view more relatable and relevant. We bring to you a list of books on Hampi, both fiction, historical and practical guides, that gives you a different perspective every time you pick one book, and turn a page.

Hampi Vijaynagara

Outlook Traveller calls it a well-researched and excellently photographed introduction to Hampi. Written by John M Fritz, who studied Anthropology at the University of Chicago and George Michell, who has directed the Vijayanagara Research Project since 1981, the book contains an amazing collection of archival photographs and travellers’ accounts, providing a well-researched and accurate description of the architectural wonders of Hampi.

John Fritz
John Fritz

Hampi: A Forgotten Empire

Written by Robert Sewell, who was a civil servant and a keeper of the Madras Record Office, he was responsible for documenting ancient engravings in the region. Burton Stein, a historian who wrote A History of India, described Sewell’s book as an outline of the genealogical and chronological evidence on the dynasties of Vijayanagara.


Birds of Hampi

This lovely book is a much-needed respite from the historical overload and offers a field guide to over 230 species of birds found in Hampi. Samad Kottur, who has authored this treat for the nature lovers and bird watchers, said in an interview with the New Indian Express, “The book helps a lay reader become a bird watcher. A bird watcher will definitely become a conservator.”

birds of hampi samad kottur
Samad Kottur

Golden Boulders

To be a monkey in Hampi is fortunate because you get to climb and make yourselves comfortable on the beautiful remains of the great Vijaynagara Empire. But worry not, two long-term Hampi climbers, Pil Lockey and Harald Vierroth, felt that the existing guidebooks were kind of inadequate for the bouldering fans. So they co-authored an illustrative and informative book for all bouldering lovers. So happy monkeying around, well, responsibly so.

Golden Boulders
Golden Boulders

Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom

For those who love historical fiction, the buck stops here. Written by Nalini Rajan, Dean of Studies at Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, the book explores the story of a sixteenth century Vijaynagara courtier, Devadatta, who befriends a Persian traveler and a Portuguese trader, only to suffer the terrible caste-centered norms and pollution taboos of the era.

Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom
Love and Death in the Middle Kingdom


City of Victory

For the kindle lovers and the digitally savvy crowd, this book by Anita Saran is a novella about four women in the harem of the King of Vijayanagar in the 16th century where one of them is an Egyptian gypsy girl named Jehaan, who is gifted to the teenaged King as teacher and longs to prevent her unescapable end on the King’s funeral pyre.

Hampi: Discover The Splendours of Vijayanagar

Subhadra Sen Gupta’s book on Hampi explores four different aspects namely art, architecture, power and wealth surrounding the Vijaynagara kingdom. The visual treat is provided by celebrated photographer, Clare Arni, a Bangalore-based photographer who has worked with UNESCO, Wall Street Journal, Wallpaper City Guides and Conde Nast among others.

Subhadra Sen gupta
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Shubhra Rishi

Writer. Editor. Traveler.

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