The Vijayanagara Empire was founded in the 14th century. Also known as the city of victory, it stretched from the Krishna River in the north to the extreme south of the peninsula. The empire was characterised by a unique physical layout and architectural style. The royal citadel was built in the south-western part of the city. It consisted of over 60 temples and nearly 30 palaces.
Most of the architectural structures in the area have been named according to the form of the building and their function. The king’s palace is the largest of the buildings. It consists of two major platforms in the city- the audience hall and the mahanavami Dibba. The entire royal complex is enclosed in high-raised walls with a street running between them.
The mahanavami Dibba is located on one of the highest points in the city. It is a huge platform rising from a base of about 11,000 sq. ft to a height of 40 ft supported by a wooden structure. The base of the platform is covered with relief carvings. The rituals connected to the mahanavami Dibba perhaps coincides with the Mahanavami, also known as Dussehra, Durga Puja and Navaratri or Mahanavami. Many important festivities were organised in the empire at the period.
Many worshipping, ceremonies and functions were performed during the period at the mahanavami Dibba. It includes the worship of the image, worship of the state horse, and the sacrifice of buffaloes and other animals. Many cultural and traditional events like dances, wrestling matches and processions of horses, elephants, chariots and soldiers were carried out. The event also marked many ritual presentations before the king and his guests by the chief nayakas and subordinate kings. All these ceremonies had in-depth symbolic meanings. On the last day of the festival, the king examined his army and the armies of the nayakas in a grand ceremony in an open field. On this occasion, the nayakas brought gifts for the king as well as the required honour. Thus the mahanavami Dibba was home to some of the most of the important functions and ceremonies in the empire.
But, there are doubts and speculations amongst the researchers about the kinds of ceremonies that would have been performed as the space surrounding the structure does not seem to be sufficient for the elaborate processions and marches of armed men, women, and the display of large numbers of animals. Thus the true nature of the functions is still not identified.
The Vijayanagara Empire was founded in the 14th century. Also known as the city of victory, it stretched from the Krishna River in the north to the extreme south of the peninsula. The empire was characterised by a unique physical layout and architectural style. The royal citadel was built in the south-western part of the city. It consisted of over 60 temples and nearly 30 palaces. Both the Virupaksha temple and Vitthala temple are important features of the royal centre.
The Virupaksha temple is built for the worship of Virupaksha and Pampadevi. Virupaksha is recognised as a form of Shiva is the guardian deity of the kingdom. The rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire claim to rule on behalf of the god Virupaksha. All royal orders were signed under Shri Virupaksha. The temple is said to have been built over many centuries. Even though the earliest shrine dated to the 9th and 10th centuries, it is said to be considerably developed with the establishment and spread of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Each structure in the temple was enlarged by different kings at different points of time. The hall in front of the main shrine was built by Krishnadeva Raya to mark his accession to the throne. This was decorated with skilfully carved pillars and structures. He has also played the important role in the construction of the eastern gopuram. All these structures were added to the temple after the central shire was instilled in the garbagriha. Thus the central shrine occupied a moderately small portion of the temple complex. The halls in the temple were used for a variety of purposes. Some were used as blank spaces in which the images of different gods were placed to witness special programmes performed in the temple including music, dance and drama. Some other halls were used to celebrate the marriages of deities and some issues.
The Vitthala temple shrine was dedicated to Vitthala, a form of Vishnu. This form of Vishnu is generally worshipped in Maharashtra. This temple was one of the largest temples in the empire. It had high-raising walls with intricately carved structures and pillars and halls. The shrine was designed in a chariot-bearing form. An important feature of the temple complex is that the chariot streets extend from the temple gopuram in a straight line. These streets were paved with stone slabs and lined with pillared pavilions and towers. This served as an important spot in which merchants set up their shops.
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