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Approach:

  1. Give a brief introduction of the Vijayanagara architecture.
  2. Describe the secular architectural marvels and secular features of the Vijayanagara style of architecture.
  3. Discuss the various influences on it.
  4. Conclusion

Vijayanagara architecture (1336–1565CE) was a notable building style that developed during the rule of the Vijayanagara Empire. The empire’s patronage enabled its fine arts and literature to rise to new heights, and its legacy of sculpture, painting, and architecture. There were great innovations in Hindu temple construction during this period, and many diverse temple building traditions and styles in South India came together in the Vijayanagar style of architecture.

Secular architecture of Vijayanagara Empire: Irrigation system and dams built during Vijayanagara rule are praiseworthy. Being an arid zone, elaborate arrangements were made to store rainwater and conduct it to the city. The most important such tank was built in the early years of the fifteenth century called as Kamala Puram tank. Well-guarded gates, which linked the city to the major roads, were present at the fort entry points. The arches on the gateway leading into the fortified settlement as well as the dome over the gate are believed to be typical features of the Indo-Islamic architecture. Other great examples of Vijayanagara architecture are the Lotus Mahal and the Mahanavami Dibba.

Sacred architecture Vijayanagara: Vijayanagara temples were surrounded by strong enclosures and characterized by ornate pillared Kalyanamandapa (marriage halls), tall Rayagopurams (carved monumental towers at the entrance of the temple) built of wood, brick, and stucco in the Chola style; and adorned with life-sized figures of gods and goddesses. The temples are characterized by ornate pillared halls and rayagopurams. The more Dravidian style became popular during reign of Sri Krishna Deva Raya, and some of the famous Rayagopurams, include the Chennakesava Temple at Belur and the temple at Srisailam were built. Vijayanagar temples are also known for their carved pillars, which depict charging horses and figures from Hindu mythology. Some famous temples exemplifying the Vijayanagar style include the Virupaksha Temple at Hampi and the Hazara Rama temple.

Influences on Vijayanagara architecture: Its style is a harmonious combination of the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya, and Chola styles that evolved in earlier centuries. Large temples have tall Rayagopuram built with wood, brick and stucco in Chola style. Unlike the temples which primarily were of Dravidian style, the palaces adopted many Islamic style features too, primarily use of arches, domes. The courtly architecture, too, show secular styles with Islamic influences. Examples are the Lotus Mahal palace, Elephant stables, and watch towers. The stepped tanks were inspired from Western Chalukya, Hoysala era.

Vijayanagara style of architecture stands out apart for showing exemplary standards of designs and magnificence and also is remembered for uniquely synthesizing multiple art and architectural styles and imbibing them to create a new style.

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