We’ve visited Hampi—the ruins of Vijayanagara, the center one of south India’s most powerful medieval kingdoms—three times now, and have always found something new to see (or seen the same thing in a new way). Built into the granite hills of central Karnataka state and straddling the Tungabhadra river, Hampi is a 40-square-kilometre treasure trove of ancient temples, crumbling palaces and boulder-strewn natural beauty. Some even say that the ancient city was built on the ruins of one even older—the mythical monkey-city of Kishkinda, home to Hinduism’s Lord Hanuman the monkey god, devoted follower of Lord Rama.
In late 2013, my wife wanted to visit Kutch in Gujarat as a sourcing trip for her fledgling ethnic gifts business, so we decided we would turn it into our annual new year’s holiday. We spent close to two weeks in Bhuj and its surroundings (arguably home to India’s highest concentration of high-quality textile handicraft producers), investigated lots of towns and villages, and took in India’s great white salt desert, the Great Rann of Kutch.