Hampi's stunning ruins rise out of a stark and semi-arid landscape. Seemingly miles from anywhere, Hampi takes a bit of getting to but once arrived one finds an ancient city of true enchantment. The UNESCO-protected group of monuments are the remains of 'Vijayanagara' (City of Victory), capital of the great Vijayanagara empire which once ruled the entirety of south India. Now in various states of semi-ruin, the temples, palaces, pavilions, and market-places of the ancient capital are captivating and widespread enough to fill at least two or three days' exploration. As well as being an obvious cultural highlight, Hampi also serves as a calming respite from the hustle and bustle of south India: an alluring setting of palm groves, banana plantations, and semi-desert.