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‘Victory City’: A brief history of the kingdom of Vijayanagara

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Ancient India: Vijayanagara Kingdom


Source: Indian Express

 Context: Salman Rushdie released a new novel “Victory City” – a fictionalized story of the Vijayanagara Kingdom.


About Vijaynagara Kingdom: 1336 AD – 1646 AD

  • Founded by Harihara I of the Sangama dynasty, Vijayanagara expanded from a strategic position on the banks of the Tungabhadra river with Hampi as its capital.
  • The kingdom reached its peak under Krishna Deva Raya (reign 1509-1529), a period in which it enjoyed military superiority to its rival kingdoms such as the Bahmani Sultanate, the Golconda Sultanate, and the Gajapatis of Odisha. 



  • Largely dependent on agriculture, trade thrived in its many ports on either coast.
  • Traveller Abd al-Razzaq Samarqandi chronicled how “the ports of Mangalore, Honavar, Bhatkal, Barkur, Cochin, Cannanore, Machilipatnam, and Dharmadam saw traders from Africa, Arabia, Aden, the Red sea, China and Bengal and also served as shipbuilding centres”.
  • The empire’s principal exports were pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, myrobalan, tamarind, timber, anafistula, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, musk, ambergris, rhubarb, aloe, cotton cloth, and porcelain.
  • Coins were minted by the state as well as by merchant guilds using gold, silver, copper, and brass, and their value depended on material weight.


Architecture and Literature:

  • Literature in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, as well as Sanskrit, was produced in the kingdom, with new writing styles and methods emerging.
  • Vijayanagara architecture is “a vibrant combination and blossoming of the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya and Chola styles,”
  • The Prasanna Virupaksha temple of Bukka I and the Hazara Rama temple of Krishna Deva Raya are striking examples of Vijayanagara’s characteristic style and intricate artistry.


Vijayanagara’s capital Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its sophisticated fortifications as well as innumerable temples and other architectural marvels. From accounts of foreign travellers, by the beginning of the 16th century, Hampi-Vijayanagara was probably the second-largest urban settlement on the planet (after Beijing).


Insta Link:

Vijayanagar Kingdom


Prelims Link: UPSC 2019

Building ‘Kalyaana Mandapas’ was a notable feature in the temple construction in the kingdom of

(a) Chalukya

(b) Chandela

(c) Rashtrakuta

(d) Vijayanagara


Answer: D


Mains Link: UPSC 2016

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