Mains Practice Question


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Discuss how the architectural history of India experienced a distinct and impactful era during the Vijayanagara Empire.
A Simple Introduction about the Vijayanagara Empire

The Vijayanagara Empire, established by Harihara I of the Sangama dynasty in 1336, marked a significant era in the architectural history of India. Flourishing between 1336 and 1646, the empire reached its zenith under the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1529), boasting military superiority over rival kingdoms such as the Bahmani Sultanate, the Golconda Sultanate, and the Gajapatis of Odisha. Spanning from Goa in the west to parts of southern Odisha in the east and the southernmost tip of the subcontinent, the empire left an indelible mark on India's cultural and architectural landscape.

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Cultural and Architectural Contributions

  • The Vijayanagara Empire made remarkable contributions to culture and architecture. It fostered the flourishing of poetry, literature, and writing styles in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Sanskrit.
  • The strategic location of Vijayanagara, nestled within the natural basin formed by the river Tungabhadra, provided a conducive environment for architectural innovation and development.
  • The empire's fortifications, as noted by Abdur Razzaq, an ambassador from Persia, were awe-inspiring, with seven lines of forts encircling the city and its surrounding agricultural hinterland and forests. The elaborate gateways served as distinctive architectural features regulating access to the city.

Temple Architecture

  • Temples were integral to Vijayanagara's architectural landscape, with a rich history dating back to dynasties like the Pallavas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, and Cholas. The Hazara Rama Temple, adorned with scenes from the Ramayana, exemplifies the fusion of religion and art during this period.
  • The Virupaksha Temple, originally established in the 9th and 11th centuries and expanded under the Vijayanagara Empire, stands as a testament to the empire's architectural grandeur. The temple complex includes halls used for various cultural and religious activities.
  • The Vitthala Temple, dedicated to Vitthala, a form of Vishnu worshipped in Maharashtra, showcases unique features such as chariot streets extending from the temple gopuram. These streets were venues for religious processions and festivities, reflecting the vibrant cultural life of the empire.
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The architectural legacy of the Vijayanagara Empire, epitomized by sites like Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, continues to inspire awe and admiration. Amidst the empire's military and political achievements, its commitment to preserving classical Hindu traditions and fostering artistic expression stands out. The temples, fortifications, and urban planning of Vijayanagara serve as enduring symbols of India's rich cultural heritage and architectural prowess, leaving an indelible mark on the country's history and identity.


Other Points to Consider 

Temples of Vijayanagara Empire

Rulers of Vijayanagara Empire


Previous Year Questions

1. Krishnadeva Raya, the King of Vijayanagar, was not only an accomplished scholar himself but was also a great patron of learning and literature. Discuss. (2016)


05-Apr 2024