Growth of Art and Architecture under Vijayanagar

Growth of Art and Architecture under Vijayanagar

Growth of Art

     During the administration of Vijayanagar rulers, they concentrated more on the development of art and architecture.  They constructed a number of palaces, temples and Mandapams throughout their empire.  They beautified them with various types of attractive sculptures.  The development of art of that period indicated the attitude of the Vijayanagara rulers towards art and architecture.  In short, they reflected, the culture and civilization of the people of Vijayanagara period.


Vijayanagar Empire ruled Andhra and Karnataka in addition to Tamil Nadu.  They patronised art and sculpture by constructing temples. Mandapams, Gopuram, Kalyana Mandapams and a few small temples.  They followed Dravidian style of architecture, the Indo-Sarasonic elements also occupied a prominent place in it.

Arts like Kanchi Varadharaja Perumal koil Kalyanamandapam, Vellore Thalakandasvarar temple Kalyanamandapam, Kuthiraimandapam in Thiruvarangam temple were important and they constructed in a similar style.

Important Gopurams like Kanchi Ekamparanathar koil Gopuram and Gopurams at Nadaraja temple and Thiruvannamalai were attractive.  Such huge Gopurams were called as Rajakopurams.

Kanchi Ekambaranatha temple was constructed during the reign of Krishnadevaraja. The height of the Gopuram was 188 feet.  He also constructed northern Gopuram of Chidambaram temple and Kalakastha koil Kopuram.  These Kopurams were beautiful and highly attractive.  Again Kulams were constructed in the premises of the temples.

Apart from Mandampa and Kopurams they constructed a number of huge and attractive buildings and palaces.  They were big in size.  The construction of eight angled Thamari Mahal, the curve shaped madams, Kaval Gopurams forts, palaces, bathing centres at various places during the reign of the Vijayanagara rulers revealed the artistic beauty and talent of the architects.


Sculpture making was an art and it was flourished during the Vijayanagar period.  The sculptures were used to decorate the koil Mandapams and Gopurams.  The Kalyana Mandapam of Varadharaja Perumal koil at Kanchi contained a number attractive monolithic pillars.  They were arranged in lines.  They contained numerous beautiful sculptures.  The sculptures of horses and elephants with soldiers, attracted the attention of the people.  Certain sculpture of soldiers sat on elephant horses used sword, spear and shield to attack their enemies in the war field.  The sculpture of soldiers decorated with jewels, dresses, head turbans and shield.

The two pillars in the southern part of the Mandapam contained the sculptures of God of Kama.  The inner portion of the Mandapam contained a few attractive pillars.  The middle portion of the Mandapam contained a stage.  The four corners of the Mandapam contained chains made of stone.  It looked like iron chains.

The Jalakandesvarar koil at Vellore contained a Kalyanamandapam.  The pillars of the Mandapam were decorated with different type of sculptures.  The sculpture portrayed Vaishnava, purana and epic stories.  Again there were moulded sculptures of animals in an attractive and typical form.

The sculptures of door keeper found in Jalakandesvarar temple at Vellore, and the door keepers on either side of the Mandapam of Ekambaranthar temple at Kanchi were very attractive.  Again, certain temples contained the sculptures of Siva, Umayevol.  Thirumal, Lakshmi, Vairavarm kali and Chandesvarar.  These beautiful structures attracted the masses.  They were still in good condition.

Among the sculptures of this period, the bronze sculptures were popular.  They were decorative in nature.  The sculpture of Nandidevan and his Devi found in Siva temple at Thirumullaivayil was in an attractive form.  The sculpture of Devi was decorated with garments and ornaments.  The folding’s in the garments made it more attractive.

Another important sculptures was the sculpture of Ganapathi found at Nagapattinam.  It contained five heads and ten hands, and sat on a tiger.  The bronze sculpture of Umayaval found in the art gallery at Tanjore, was very attractive and famous.  It belonged to 16th century.  The sculpture of king and queen with five and a half feet height found in Varadhavisaperumal temple at Kanchi was also in attractive forms.  Various sculptures of gods were beautifully portrayed in this temple.  Again the sculptures of Nayanmars.  Alvars, Palakannan, Kaliyamarthanar, Narsimmar etc. also contributed much for the development of sculptural art in Tamil Nadu.  Most of the sculptures of this period were religious oriented.


The paintings of this period were found in the temples and Mandapams of Kanchipuram, Thiruvarangam, Chidambaram and kumpakonam.  The sangeethamandapam found at Varthamana Mahavirar in Thiruparuthikunttam at Kanchi contained the paintings of Vijayanagar period.  It belonged to 14th century.  The life story of Mahavirar was portrayed beautifully on the walls of this temple.  They were found in several rows.

The paintings of Vijayanagara period were also found in the Varadharaja Perumal temple of Kanchi and Thiruvarangam temple.  The paintings in Thirvarangam temple belonged to 14th century.  The Siva temple in Thiruvizhimizhalai at Tanjore contained the paintings that belonged to 15th and 16th centuries.  The paintings of Vijayanagar period were in ruining stage due to the lack of maintenance.  Most of the paintings of this period were religious oriented.

Reference: A.Devanesan

Keywords, Kaval Gopurams, Paranjothi Thiruvilayadal Puranam, Adi Veerapandyar, Kalamekapulavar, Tholkappiya Devar, Vedantha Desikar, Irattai Pulavar, Dr. Fernandez, Fr. Nobile, Dr. Bemande.