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Vijayanagara Style of Temple Architecture

The Vijayanagar Style (1350 - 1560 AD) of temple architecture is noted for its intricacy and beauty, epitomised in the decorated monolithic pillars. This style received the patronage of the Pandya, Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers.

An important development during the Vijayanagar period was the expansion of the temple complexes into a concentric series of rectangular enclosure walls with gopurams in the middle of each wall, and the most important temple at the center of the rectangle. The availability of granite was a deciding factor in the construction of the Vijayanagar style of temples.

The tower or gopuram was multi-storeyed, with richly ornamented sculptured figures. The base of the tower ended in a barrel shaped roof form. During the Vijayanagar period, the gopurams became taller with enhanced richness in the sculptural details. Noteworthy additions were made to existing temples, in an effort to enlarge them rather than construct new ones. This reflected the belief that sanctity could not be transferred. The major architectural emphasis of these expansions lay in the elaborate embellishments of all parts of the temples. The spacious mandapams became even larger. The finest specimens of mandapams can be seen at Srirangam, Kanchipuram, Chidambaram and Thiruvannamalai.

The mandapam thus became the hallmark of the Vijayanagara style. The vimana and gopuram had already been made as high as possible by the Cholas and Pandyas. To have something of their own to speak about, the Vijayanagar architects concentrated on building enormous halls with numerous ornately decorated pillars. Classic examples of these exist at the Vitthala Temple at Hampi, and the Ekambareshwara Temple at Kanchipuram.

Updated on 21st November, 2005


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