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Chapter 7: Imperial Capital Vijayanagara
The ruins at Hampi were brought to light in 1800 by an engineer and antiquarian named Colonel Colin Mackenzie.
An employee of the English East India Company, he prepared the first survey map of the site. Much of the initial information he received was based on the memories of priests of the Virupaksha temple and the shrine of Pampadevi.
Subsequently, from 1856, photographers began to record the monuments which enabled scholars to study them.
As early as 1836 epigraphists began collecting several dozen inscriptions found at this and other temples at Hampi.
In an effort to reconstruct the history of the city and the empire, historians collated information from these sources with accounts of foreign travelers and other literature written in Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, and Sanskrit.
According to tradition and epigraphic evidence two brothers, Harihara and Bukka, founded the
Vijayanagara Empire in 1336.
This empire included within its fluctuating frontiers peoples who spoke different languages and followed different religious traditions.
On their northern frontier, the Vijayanagara kings competed with contemporary rulers – including the Sultans of the Deccan and the Gajapati rulers of Orissa – for control of the fertile river valleys and the resources generated by lucrative overseas trade.
At the same time, the interaction between these states led to sharing of ideas, especially in the field of architecture.
The rulers of Vijayanagara borrowed concepts and building techniques which they then developed further.
Some of the areas that were incorporated within the empire had witnessed the development of
powerful states such as those of the Cholas in Tamil Nadu and the Hoysalas in Karnataka.
Ruling elites in these areas had extended patronage to elaborate temples such as the Brihadishvara temple at Thanjavur and the Chennakeshava temple at Belur.
The rulers of Vijayanagara, who called themselves rayas, built on these traditions and carried them, as we will see, literally to new heights.
As warfare during these times depended upon effective cavalry, the import of horses from Arabia and Central Asia was very important for rival kingdoms.
This trade was initially controlled by Arab traders. Local communities of merchants known as
kudirai chettis or horse merchants also participated in these exchanges. In 1498 other actors appeared on the scene.
These were the Portuguese, who arrived on the west coast of the subcontinent and attempted
to establish trading and military stations.
Their superior military technology, especially the use of muskets, enabled them to become important players in the tangled politics of the period.
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NCERT Solutions Class 12 History Chapter 7 Imperial Capital Vijayanagara
1. What have been the methods used to study the ruins of Hampi over the last two centuries? In what way do you think they would have complemented the information provided by the priests of the Virupaksha temple?
Ans: The engineer and antiquarian Colonel Colin Mackenzie brought the ruins of Hampi to light in 1800. He worked for many years in East India Company and prepared the first Survey maps of this site.
His earlier information was based on the memories of the priest of the Virupaksha temple and shrine of Pampadevi. From 1856 onwards, photographers started to record pictures of monuments. The picture of the sites helped the scholars to study them.
Dozens of inscriptions were collected from Virupaksha temples and other temples situated around temples.
Historians collected information from these sources other sources such as accounts of foreign travelers and literature composed in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Sanskrit languages used by the historians so that the History of the city could be reconstructed. These functions complemented the information given by priests of the Virupaksha temple.
2. What do you think were the advantages and disadvantages of enclosing agricultural land within the fortified area of the city?
Ans: The advantages and disadvantages of enclosing agricultural land within the fortified areas of the city were as follows :
(а) Advantages :
- During the medieval period, the objective of sieges was to starve the defenders into submission. These sieges could last for a long period. Normally, rulers tried to be prepared for such situations by building large granaries in the fortified areas. The rulers of Vijayanagara adopted a more elaborate strategy of protecting the agricultural belt itself.
- As the agricultural tract was within a fortified area, the peasants did not face any problems in cultivating the land due to war or any other reason. The peasants, therefore, did not face any financial difficulty.
- Land revenue was one of the main sources of income for the state. Thus, with the protection of agricultural tract, there was regular income from this source.
- There was an agricultural tract between the sacred center and the urban core. This tract had an elaborate canal system drawing water from the Tungabhadra. So, there was no problem with irrigation too.
(b) Disadvantages :
- Such an elaborate system of fortification was very expensive.
- The state has to maintain a large army for the protection of a bigger fortified area.
- Sometimes it could have been difficult to decide how much land be included within the fortified area.
3. What do you think was the significance of the rituals associated with the mahanavami Dibba?
Ans: The mahanavami Dibba was the King’s palace in Vijayanagara though there is no definite evidence. From the available source, we can guess that it had a very beautiful wooden structure with the base of the platform covered with relief carvings.
The Mahanavami Dibba had a very impressive platform known as “the audience hall”. It was surrounded by high double walls a street running between them.
Many rituals were associated with the Mahanavami Dibba. Here the Hindu Festival Mahanavami or Navaratri was celebrated with great pomp and show in the months of September-October. This festival continued for 9 days.
The rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire displayed their power, prestige, and suzerainty.
On this occasion several ceremonies were performed including:
(i) Worship of the different gods and goddesses
(ii) Worship of the state horse.
(iii) The sacrifice of buffaloes and other animals.
(iv) The main attraction of this occasion were:
(b) Wrestling matches
(c) Processions of horses, elephants, chariots, and soldiers.
All these ceremonies are presented before the king and his guests. On the last day of the festival, the king inspected his army as well as the Nayaks of the army. He also accepted gifts from the nayakas.
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