The Vijaynagar Empire was founded by Harihara and Bukka in AD 1336 and made Hastinavati (Hampi) as the capital city. They ruled over Andhra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and parts of Kerala in southern India. Here, we are giving the gist of cultural history of Vijaynagar Empire that will refine the knowledge about how architecture, art, music and literature developed under this kingdom.
1. The temple building activity of the Vijayanagar rulers produced a new style, called the Vijayanagar style. Though often characterized as Dravida Style, it had its own distinct features.
2. The distinct features of the architecture were the pillars and the complicated manner in which they were sculptured.
3. The horse was the most common animal to be depicted on the pillars.
4. The temples had a Mandapam or open pavilion with a raised platform, generally meant for seating the deity on special occasions. It also had a Kalyana Mandapam with elaborately carved pillars. The most magnificent of the temples in this style are in Hampi (Vijayanagar). Vitthalaswamy and the Hazara Ramaswamy temples are the best examples.
5. The Raya Gopurams, towers in commemoration of the visit of emperors in different corners of the empire, are also important examples of architecture of the period.
6. In the Vijayanagar temples the central part was occupied by the Garbhagriha—the sanctum cell where the presiding deity was installed.
7. Amman shrine was meant for the consort of the God.
The Vijayanagar rulers were also great patrons of literature. Under their patronage, several religious as well as secular books were composed in different languages such as Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil. The peak of literary development was reached during the reign of Krishna Raya, who is rightly called 'Andhra Bhoja'.
1. Up to 1500 AD most of the books were written in the form of translations.
2. Famous scholars were Srinatha, Pothana, Jakkama and Duggana, who translated Sanskrit and Prakrit works into telugu.
3. During Bukka I‘s time, Gangadevi wrote MaduraVijayam.
4. Devaraya I constructed a Peran hall to hours the scholars.
5. Devaraya II wrote two Sanskrit works, Mahantaka Sudhanidhi and a commentary on the Brahmasutras of Badrayana.
6. Devraya II gave the title of Kanakkabhisekha to Srinatha who wrote Sringara Naishada, Sivar-otrimahatyam, Kasikandha, Bhim-kanda, Harivilasam and Ponditaradhya Charita.
7. Bommara Pothana popularly (Niyogi) translated the Bhagwat Purana into Telugu and also wrote Virbhadra Vijayam.
8. Krishnadeva Raya wrote ‘Amuktamalyada', a book on polity in Telugu and also a Sanskrit drama ‘Jambavati Kalyanam'.
9. Allasani Peddana (Andhrakavi Pitamha) wrote Manucharitam and Harikathasarammsamu.
10. Tenaliramakrishna wrote Pandura-ngamahatyam.
11. Dharajati wrote Kalahastimahatyam.
12. Madayya wrote Rajasekharacharitam.
13. Pingali Suranna wrote Raghavapan-daviyam and Prabhavari Padyumna.
14. Ramabhadra wrote Sakaramatasara Sangraham.
15. Ramaraj a Bhusan wrote Narasabhu- paliyan and Harischandra Nalopa- khyanam.
16. Achyuta Raya Patronised Rajanatha and the poetess Tirumalambadevi who wrote Vardambika Parinayam.
17. Ramaraya patronized Ramayama- tya, an authority on music. Tirumala commented on Jayadeva's Gitagovinda, Vaishnavite Saint Poetess Molla wrote Mollaramayana in the time of Tirumala. Bhattamurthi, a scholar wrote Vasucharita in times of Tirumala.
18. Dikshitar wrote a commentary on the Vedas and explained Advaita Philosophy Vemana wrote Vemanasatakas, moralist literature in Telugu.
19. Elugandi Peddana translated Leelavati, a maths book into Telugu.
1. Narahari (Kumaravalmiki) composed a popular version of Ramayana called Torve Ramayan.
2. Kumaravyas composed Mahabharta in Kannada.
3. Vithalnath translated Bhagwat Purana into Kannada.
4. Vaishnav Saints Purandhardas, Kanakdas and Sripathraja contributed to Kannada literature through Bhakti songs and Kirthans. Bhimakavi wrote Basava Purana
5. Chamarasa wrote Prabhulinglai.
6. Virupaksha Pandit wrote Chennabasva Purana.
1. Music: Vijayanagar period is known for origin of Carnatic music under Purandhar Das period known for origin of Rudraveens.
2. Dance: Bharatanatyam was promoted. Drama Yakshagana was a popular dance drama closely associated with temple walls.
3. Paintings: Themes of Ramayana and Tlahabharta on temple walls.
4. Sculpture: Largest number of portrait sculptures in this period. Portrait sculpture of Krishnadeva Raya and his queens is seen at Tirumala.
In the above ‘Cultural History of Vijayanagar’ deals with the cultural glorious epoch of Vjaynagar Empire. The kings of this empire were great patrons of music, literature and architecture which can see even today also. For example- Someshwar, Vidyashankara, Narasimhaswamy etc.