The rulers of Vij
Virupaksha temple was the seat of various innovations and new traditions that were developed by the rulers of the Vijayanagara empire. It was an old temple dedicated to Shiva. The main deity in the temple was Lord Virupaksha, a form of Shiva and he was also the Chief guardian God of the kingdom. The rulers of Vijayanagara were patrons of art and architecture and under their patronage, architecture flourished in the kingdom. The architects were innovative and various new features in the temple architecture of the region.
It was during this time period, when the Virupaksha temple complex was enlarged and several new features were added to it. Royal gateways or Raya Gopurams which were immense structures and dwarfing the towers of the central shrines were added. This was done to show off imperial authority.
Several mandapas or pavilions and long pillared corridors were also constructed. Krishnadeva Raya had a massive hall adorned with delicately carved pillars built in front of the main shrine to commemorate his accession to the throne.
Rituals like marriages of deities and special programmes of music, dance, and drama were performed in the halls surrounding the temple.
Chariot streets also started becoming a part of temple architecture around this time. These streets extended from the royal gateways to the central shrine in a straight line and was paved with stones. Pillared pavilions ran parallel to it and were utilized by merchants to set up their shops.
The kings in order to establish their authority ruled on behalf of Lord Virupaksha and signed orders in His name. the Kings would also hint towards their close link to the divine by using the title ‘Hindu Suratrana’. The display of royal portraits and sculptures within the temple also started during this time to emphasize the divine nature of the king. The visit of the King along with his Nayakas was now considered a state occasion.
Thus, not only did the rulers of Vijayanagar innovate in the architectural form of the temple complex, they developed new traditions in order to establish their supremacy and divinity among the populace.
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