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The ruins at Hampi give us a glimpse of the glory it enjoyed at one time

Updated on January 25, 2016

Hampi Vitthala temple


Hampi - Vittala Temple Complex


Virupaksha temple - Hampi


The Vijayanagar - Hampi

Several foreign travellers have vividly described the vastness, magnificent e and economic prosperity of Vijayanagara. The capital city was surrounded by seven forts. About the city, Abdur Razzaq of persia says: Eyes have not seen , ears have not knew about another city like this in the entire world.

The Vijayanagara rule lasted for about three hundred and eighty years. But the Vijayanagar kings rules from their famous capital – city of Vijayanagar (Hampi) for about 200 years (1368 – 1565) only. The foundation of the empire was laid sometime between 1336 and 1346. till the new capital was built near Hampi, the Sangama brothers rules from Anegundi. The credit of establishing the new capital city under the name Vijayanagar goes to Bukka Raya.

The vijayanagara empire was not ruled by a single family or a single dynasty. It was ruled by as many as four dynasties. These were called Sangama, Saluva, Tuluva and Aravidu. The greatest among the rulers of this dynasty were Devaraya II (1422 – 46) and Krishnadevaraya (1509 – 29).

Large temples such as of Virupaksha, Krishna, Achyuta, Kodandarama, Hazara Rama, Malyavanta – Raghunatha and others throw light on the diversity of the religious life in the capital. Among the great city structures at Hampi are the Kamal Mahal, which was the focal point of games for women of the Royal house – hold, and the Mahanavami Dibba, which was the inside where the ceremony and success of the domain were shown amid the fabulous Dasara celebration. The elephant stables, the massive fort walls, the beautiful baths, the long canals, the palaces and watch towers throw light on the nature of the royal life of the Vijayanagara rulers. The Portuguese traveller Paes has stated that pearls, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and expensive clothes were traded in the open streets of the capital city. These accounts of foreign visitors clearly indicate that Vijayanagara wa a city of immense prosperity, pomp and grandeur.

The Vijayanagara rulers were great builders,but they also patronized the art of paintings. The paintings of this period are seen at Hampi, lepakshi and some other centers. Vijayanagara developed a distinct architectural style and spread it across the whole of south India. They used granite stone as well as brick and mortar for construction. The impressive gateways with all tall towers or gopurams are called `Raya Gopurams' after Krishnadevaraya. Their temples have complex pillars and large halls. The finest of the Vijayanagara temples are found at Hampi, lepakshi, Tadipatri and some other centres.

The gateway of the Virupaksha temple bears the tallest of the towers built during the Vijayanagara period. The temple of Vittala at Hampi is one of their most celebrated temples. The Hajara Rama temple bears witness to the best of their sculptures. Massive and free – standing images such as Ugra Narasimha, Ganesha and Nandi are among their great creations.

Musical pillars Mandapam at Hampi


Tungabhadra river at Hampi


The Vijayanagara empire began to decline after the death of Krishnadevaraya

The King Krishnadevaraya was an able ruler and an astute administrator. He was also a scholar both in Sanskrit and Telugu languages. The Amuktamalyada in Telugu and the Jambavati – Kalyana in Sanskrit were composed by him. Eight famous Telugu poets, known as the Ashtadiggajas, adorned his court. On account of this, Krishnadevaraya came to be known as Andhra – Bhoja. Of these eight scholars, Allasani Peddana attained great fame. He was known as Andhra – Kavitha – Pitamaha. Tenali Ramakrishna was a famous satirist in this court. Through his wit and honour, he earned a lasting place in history.

Besides building the Krishna temple and beautifying that of Vittala, Krishnadevaraya also established a large stone image of Narasimha at Hampi. He constructed impressive tanks and canals. The Portuguese traveller, Barbosa, noticed that in the Raya's empire, no restriction was imposed on the movement of Muslims, Jews, Christians and other foreigners.

The Vijayanagara empire began to decline after the death of Krishnadevaraya. His son- in - law Aliya Ramaraya (1542 – 1565) fought many wars successfully, but incurred the bitter enmity of the Deccan Sultans and finally paid for it in the battle of Rakkasa – Tangadagi (Talikoti) in 1565.

In this war, Ramaraya lost is life. The other members of the Vijayanagar family fled the capital. This made for free entry for the armies of the Sultans to plunder and pillage the Vijayanagara city. All the palaces, public buildings and streets were reduced to dust by the Victorious army. Many temples were destroyed. When an Italian traveller, named Frederick, visited the site he found only wild animals and vast piles of dust in place where the glorious capital has stood.

Tungabhadra River ghat



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