Monday, 25 November 2013

vijayanagar empire

An Imperial Capital-Vijayanagara

The Discovery of Hampi( How was the city Hampi/ Vijayanagardiscovered?)

1.      Colonel Colin Mackenzie, an employee of the English East IndiaCompanyprepared the first survey map of thesite of Hampi.
2.       Much of the initial information he received wasbased on the memories of priests of the Virupakshatemple and the shrine of Pampadevi.
3.      Subsequently,from 1856, photographers began to record themonuments which enabled scholars to study them.
4.      As early as 1836 epigraphists began collectingseveral dozen inscriptions found at this site and othertemples at Hampi.
5.      In an effort to reconstruct thehistory of the city and the empire, historians collatedinformation from these sources with accounts offoreign travellers and other literature written inTelugu, Kannada, Tamil and Sanskrit.

Rayas,the rulers of Vijayanagara Empire

1.      According to tradition and epigraphic evidence twobrothers, Harihara and Bukka, founded theVijayanagara Empire in 1336. This empire included territories from Karnataka,Andhrapradesh,Tamilnadu and Kerala.
2.      The first dynasty, known as theSangama dynasty, exercised control till 1485.They were supplanted by the Saluvas, militarycommanders, who remained in power till 1503. They were replaced by the Tuluvas and Aravidudynasty rulers.

3.      ( Explain the contributions of Krishnadeva Raya to the Vijayanagara Empire)

a.       Krishnadeva Raya belonged to the Tuluva dynasty.
b.      Krishnadeva Raya’s rule was characterised by expansion and consolidation.
c.       This was the time when the land between the Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers was acquired.
d.      He subdued the rulers of Orissa (1514) andsevere defeats were inflicted on the Sultan of Bijapur.
e.       Krishnadeva Raya is credited with building somefine temples and adding impressive gopuramstomany important south Indian temples.
f.       He alsofounded a suburban township near Vijayanagaracalled Nagalapuram after his mother.
g.       Some of themost detailed descriptions of Vijayanagara come fromhis time or just after.

4.      On their northern frontier, the Vijayanagara kingscompeted with contemporary rulers – including theSultans of the Deccan and the Gajapati rulers ofOrissa. Some of the areas that were incorporated withinthe empire had witnessed the development ofpowerful states such as those of the Cholas in TamilNadu and the Hoysalas in Karnataka.
5.      As warfare during these times depended uponeffective cavalry, the import of horses from Arabiaand Central Asia was very important. Local communities of merchants known askudiraichettisor horse merchants provided horses to Vijayanagara rulers.
6.      In fact, Vijayanagara was also noted for itsmarkets dealing in spices, textiles and preciousstones. Trade was often regarded as a status symbolfor such cities, which boasted of a wealthy populationthat demanded high-value exotic goods, especially precious stones and jewellery.
7.      Krishnadeva Raya’s successors were troubled by rebellious nayakasormilitary chiefs. By 1542 control at the centre hadshifted to another ruling lineage, that of the Aravidu,which remained in power till the end of theseventeenth century.
8.       During this period, as indeedearlier, the military ambitions of the rulersof Vijayanagara as well as those of the DeccanSultanates resulted in shifting alignments.Eventually this led to an alliance of the Sultanatesagainst Vijayanagara. It was the adventurous policy of Rama Raya who tried to play off one Sultanagainst another that led the Sultans to combinetogether and wage war on Rama Raya.
9.      In 1565 Rama Raya, the chiefminister of Vijayanagara, led the army into battleat Rakshasi-Tangadi (also known as Talikota), wherehis forces were routed by the combined armiesof Bijapur, Ahmadnagar and Golconda. The victoriousarmies sacked the city of Vijayanagara. The city wastotally abandoned within a few years.

Amaranayaka System

1.      The amara-nayakasystem was a major politicalinnovation of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is likelythat many features of this system were derived from the iqtasystem of the Delhi Sultanate
2.      Among those who exercised power in the VijayanagarEmpire weremilitary chiefs who usually controlled forts and hadarmed supporters. These chiefs often moved fromone area to another, and in many cases wereaccompanied by peasants looking for fertile land on which to settle.
3.      The amara-nayakaswere military commanderswho were given territories to govern by the rayas.
4.      They collected taxes and other dues from peasants,craftspersons and traders in the area.
5.       They retainedpart of the revenue for personal use and formaintaining a stipulated contingent of horsesand elephants. These contingents provided theVijayanagara kings with an effective fighting forcewith which they brought the entire southernpeninsula under their control.
6.      Some of the revenuewas also used for the maintenance of temples andirrigation works.
7.      The amara-nayakassent tribute to the kingannually and personally appeared in the royal courtwith gifts to express their loyalty.
8.      Kings occasionallyasserted their control over them by transferring themfrom one place to another.
9.       However, during the courseof the seventeenth century, many of these nayakasestablished independent kingdoms. This hastenedthe collapse of the central imperial structure.

Vijayanagara-the Capital and itsPhysical Environment

1.      Water resources

a)      The most striking feature about the location ofVijayanagara is the natural basin formed by theriver Tungabhadra which flows in a north-easterlydirection.
b)      A number of streams flow down tothe river from these rocky outcrops.In almost all cases embankments were built alongthese streams to create reservoirs of varying sizes.
c)      Elaborate arrangements had to be made to storerainwater and conduct it to the city. The mostimportant such tank was Kamalapuram tank.
d)      Water from this tank not onlyirrigated fields nearby but was also conductedthrough a channel to the “royal centre”.One of the most prominent waterworks to be seenamong the ruins is the Hiriya canal.

2.      Fortifications (Explain the descriptions about the forts observed by AbdurRazzaq and  Paes)

a.       AbdurRazzaq, an ambassadorsent by the ruler of Persia was greatlyimpressed by the fortifications, and mentionedseven lines of forts. These encircled not only thecity but also its agricultural hinterland and forests.
b.      The outermost wall linked the hills surroundingthe city. The massive masonry construction wasslightly tapered.
c.       No mortar or cementing agent wasemployed anywhere in the construction. The stoneblocks were wedge shaped, which held them inplace, and the inner portion of the walls was ofearth packed with rubble.
d.      What was most significant about this fortificationis that it enclosed agricultural tracts.
e.       AbdurRazzaqnoted thatbetween the first, second and the thirdwalls there are cultivated fields, gardens and houses.
f.       Paes observed that from this first fort until youenter the city there is a great distance, withfields, many gardensand two lakes. These statements have been corroborated bypresent-day archaeologists, who have also foundevidence of an agricultural tract between the sacredcentre and the urban core.
g.       Why do you think agricultural tracts wereincorporated within the fortified area?

i)                    Theobjective of medieval sieges was to starve thedefenders into submission. These sieges could lastfor several months and sometimes even years.
ii)                  Normally rulers tried to be prepared for suchsituations by building large granaries withinfortified areas.
iii)                The rulers of Vijayanagara adopteda more expensive and elaborate strategy of protectingthe agricultural belt itself.
h.      A second line of fortification went round theinner core of the urban complex, and a third linesurrounded the royal centre, within which each setof major buildings was surrounded by its ownhigh walls.

3.      Roads in Vijayanagara Empire

a.       The fort was entered through well-guarded gates,which linked the city to the major roads. Archaeologists have studied roads within the cityand those leading out from it.
b.      These roads have beenidentified by tracing paths through gateways, as wellas by finds of pavements.
c.       Roads generally woundaround through the valleys, avoiding rocky terrain.Some of the most important roads extended fromtemple gateways, and were lined by bazaars.

4.       The urban core

a.       There is relatively little archaeological evidence ofthe houses of ordinary people. Archaeologists havefound fine Chinese porcelain in some areas, which suggest that these areas may have beenoccupied by rich traders.
b.      Tombs and mosques locatedhere have distinctive functions, yet their architectureresembles that of the mandapasfound in the templesof Hampi.
c.       The housesof ordinary people are thatched, but nonetheless well-builtand arranged according to occupations, in longstreets with many open places.
d.      Field surveys indicate that the entire area wasdotted with numerous shrines and small temples,pointing to the prevalence of a variety of cults,perhaps supported by different communities.
e.       Thesurveys also indicate that wells, rainwater tanks aswell as temple tanks may have served as sources ofwater to the ordinary town dwellers.

The Royal Centre in the Vijayanagara

1.      The royal centre was located in the south-westernpart of the settlement.About 30 building complexes have beenidentified as palaces. These are relatively largestructures that do not seem to have been associatedwith ritual functions.
2.      One difference betweenthese structures and temples is that thetemples wereconstructed entirely of masonry, while the secular buildings were madeof perishable materials.
3.      One of the more distinctive structures in the area was the“king’spalace”which is the largest of the enclosures but has notyielded definitive evidence of being a royal residence.
4.      The king’s palace has two most impressive platforms, usuallycalled the “audience hall” and the mahanavamidibba”. The entire complex is surrounded by highdouble walls with a street running between them.
5.      The audience hall is a high platform with slots forwooden pillars at close and regular intervals. It hada staircase going up to the second floor.It is not very clear what the hall was used for.
6.      Mahanavamidibbais a massive platform risingfrom a base of about 11,000 sq. ft to a height of40 ft. There is evidence that it supported a woodenstructure. The base of the platform is covered withrelief carvings.
7.      Rituals associated with the structure or the ceremonies performed in mahanavamidibbaon the occasion
a.      worship of the image,
b.      worship of the state horse,
c.       Sacrifice of buffaloes and other animals.
d.      Dances,wrestling matches, and processions of caparisonedhorses, elephants and chariots and soldiers,
e.       Ritual presentations before the king and hisguests by the chief nayakasand subordinate kingsmarked the occasion.
f.        On the last day of thefestival the king inspected his army and the armiesof the nayakasin a grand ceremony in an open field.On this occasion the nayakasbrought rich gifts forthe king as well as the stipulated tribute.
8.      One of the most beautiful buildings in the royalcentre is the Lotus Mahal, so named by Britishtravellers in the nineteenth century. While the nameis certainly romantic, historians are not quite surewhat the building was used for. According to Mackenzie this may have been a council chamber, a place wherethe king met his advisers.
9.      Another important building in the Royal centre was the Elephant Stables. This building has eleven rooms and beautiful structures over them. This may have been used for keeping special elephants which were used for king’s family.
10.  One of the most spectacular temples in the royal centre is the Hazara Rama temple. This was probably meantto be used only by the king and his family. The imagesin the central shrine are missing; however, sculptedpanels on the walls have scenesfrom the Ramayana sculpted on the inner walls ofthe shrine.

While many of the structures at Vijayanagarawere destroyed when the city was sacked, traditionsof building palatial structures were continued bythe nayakas. Many of these buildings have survived.

The Sacred Centre in the Vijayanagara

1.       According to localtradition, the hills near the sacred centresheltered the monkey kingdomof Vali and Sugriva mentioned in the Ramayana.
2.      Other traditions suggest that Pampadevi, the localmother goddess, did penance in these hills in orderto marry Virupaksha, the guardian deity of thekingdom, who isrecognised as a form of Shiva.
3.      Among these hills are foundJaina temples of the pre-Vijayanagara period as well.In other words, this area was associated with severalsacred traditions such as the Pallavas,Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Cholas. Rulers very oftenencouraged temple building as a means ofassociating themselves with the divine.
4.      Temples also functioned as centres of learning. Rulers granted land andother resources for the maintenance of temples.  Temples developed as significantreligious, social, cultural and economic centres. Fromthe point of view of the rulers, constructing, repairingand maintaining temples were important meansof winning support and recognition for their power,wealth and piety.
5.      The Vijayanagara kings claimed to rule on behalf ofthe god Virupaksha. All royal orders were signed“ShriVirupaksha”, usually in the Kannada script.Rulers also indicated their close links with the godsby using the title “Hindu Suratranathis meant Hindu Sultan.
6.      The rayagopuramsor royal gatewaysthat often dwarfed the towers on the gate ways,whichsignalled the presence of the temple from a greatdistance. They were also probably meant asreminders of the power of kings, able to commandthe resources, techniques and skills needed toconstruct these towering gateways.
7.      Other distinctivefeatures include mandapasor pavilions andlong, pillared corridors that often ran around theshrines within the temple complex.
8.      A characteristic feature of the temple complexesis the chariot streets that extended from the temple gopuramin a straight line. These streets were pavedwith stone slabs and lined with pillared pavilions inwhich merchants set up their shops.

9.      The Virupaksha temple-

a.       The Virupaksha temple was built in the ninth-tenth centuries.
b.      The hall in front ofthe main shrine was built by Krishnadeva Raya tomark his accession.
c.       He is also credited withthe construction of the eastern gopuram, whichmade the central small.
d.      The halls in the temple were used for a variety ofpurposes. Some were spaces in which the images ofgods were placed to witness special programmes ofmusic, dance, drama, etc.
e.       Others were used tocelebrate the marriages of deities, and yet otherswere meant for the deities to swing in.
10.  The Vitthala temple

a.       In the Vitthala temple, the principal deity was Vitthala, aform of Vishnu generally worshipped in Maharashtra.
b.      The introduction of the worship of the deity inKarnataka is another indication of the ways in whichthe rulers of Vijayanagaraaccepted different traditions.
c.       As in the case of othertemples, this temple too has several halls.
d.      This temple has aunique feature that the main shrine is designed like a chariot.

Plotting or locating Palaces, Templesand Bazaars in Vijayanagar

1.      After the initial surveys by Colin Mackenzie,information was pieced together from travellers’accounts and inscriptions.
2.       Through the twentiethcentury, the site of Vijayanagara was preserved by the ArchaeologicalSurvey of India and the Karnataka Department ofArchaeology and Museums.
3.      In 1976, Hampi wasrecognised as a site of national importance.
4.      In 1980s, an important project waslaunched to document the material remains atVijayanagara in detail, through extensive andintensive surveys, by using a variety of recording techniques.
5.      One of such techniques was mapping
a)The first step of mapping was to divide the entirearea into a set of 25squares, each designated bya letter of the alphabet
b)Then,each of the small squareswas subdivided into a setof even smaller squares.
c) Each ofthese smaller squares wasfurther subdivided into yetsmaller units.
6.      Thesedetailed surveys havebeen extremely painstaking,and have recovered anddocumented traces ofthousands of structures –from tiny shrines andresidences to elaboratetemples.
7.       It is worth rememberingthat John M. Fritz,George Michell and M.S. NagarajaRao, who worked for years at thesite to discover many important aspects of Vijayanagara.

1.       What have been the methods used to study the ruinsof Hampi over the last two centuries? In whatway do you think they would have complementedthe information provided by the priests of theVirupaksha temple?
2.       How was the water requirements of Vijayanagaramet?
3.       What do you think were the advantages anddisadvantages of enclosing agricultural land withinthe fortified area of the city?
4.       What do you think was the significance of the ritualsassociated with the mahanavamidibba?
5.       Discuss whether the term “royal centre” is anappropriate description for the part of the city for whichit is used.
6.       What does the architecture of buildings like the LotusMahal and elephant stables tell us about the rulerswho commissioned them?
7.       What are the architectural traditions that inspired thearchitects of Vijayanagara? How did they transformthese traditions?
8.       What impression of the lives of the ordinary people ofVijayanagara can you cull from the variousdescriptions in the chapter?
9.      What were the sources to understand the history of vijayanagara or Hampi?
10.  Explain the relationship between Rayas of vijayanagara and traders.
11.  What were the dynasties ruled vijayanagara? Explain the role of important rulers for the success and failure of vijayanagara?
12.  Explain the relationship between Rayas of vijayanagara and Sultans of Deccan.
13.  Explain the relationship between Rayas of vijayanagara and Amaranayakas.
14.  Explain the structure of fort and roads in vijayanagara.
15.  Discuss whether the term “sacred centre” is an appropriate description for the part of the city for which it is used.
16.  How was plotting of palaces, temples and markets done?( Mapping of Vijayanagara or Hampi)


  1. hey these are so useful....please do the rest of the chapters as well

  2. Thanxx made chapter very easy to understand

  3. These notes are amazing ! Please upaload notes for the third book also . Thank you v much :)

  4. These notes are so useful.....Thank you very much...☺☺

  5. Thanks for your hard work
    These notes have been very helpful

  6. Thank you so much. These helped me keep my focus and remember the chapter through eleventh and twelfth.

  7. Why is the letter I not used in the grid of the map on ncert ref page no .189

  8. Thanks a lot yaar for ur notes.. These are literally vry helpful man!