>> For the longread essay published in Trouw with accompanying photographs, click here. <<
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Hampi (India) was the grand capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. It was the world's second-largest medieval-era city after Bejing. The Empire was defeated and the capital was conquered and destroyed in 1565, leaving the city in ruins. Today, it is a famous UNESCO World Heritage site, scattered with countless age-old temples (over 1600 monuments, mostly Hindu) cut from local granite.
Hampi is also a mekka for climbers. The region around Hampi comprises of endless hills of fabulous granite monoliths, or 'boulders', that people from all over the world come to climb.   
And then there are the other Hampi boulders: the ones being illegally mined. Around Hampi, you see trucks parked here and there leaving the hills stripped flat and naked. The remaining structures on the plateaus glitter in the sun with their curves and cracks, leaving us to wonder whether they are stunning or awful or, perhaps, both.
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