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The ruins of Vijayanagar

The ruins of Vijayanagar

Artist: MacKenzie, Colin (1754-1821)

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1801

Shelfmark: WD583

Item number: 583

Length: 39.5

Width: 55

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Water-colour drawing by Colin MacKenzie of the ruins of Vijayanagar, dated 1801. The drawing is inscribed on the front in ink: 'Sketch View of the Ruins of Veejayanaggur or Beejanaggur now called Alputtun. The Ancient Capital of the Rajeels of the Carnatic. Sketched in January 1801.'

Vijayanagara, the "City of Victory", founded by the brothers Harihara and Bukka in 1336, was the capital of the most powerful Hindu kingdom in Southern India until the defeat by the Muslim armies in 1565. The city was established on the site of the village of Hampi situated in a spectacular rocky landscape along the southern bank of the Tungabhadra river and covered an area of at least twenty-six square kilometers. This natural setting offered natural protection and had important mythological significance as the river and the surrounding hills were associated with episodes from the Ramayana epic. Despite a pillage of six month after the defeat of the Battle of Talikota, numerous structures have survived. The ruins of the royal town incorporate distinct zones. On the south bank of the Tungabhadra river, around the village of Hampi, there are temples and small shrines that form the sacred centre. An irrigated valley to the south separates this area from the fortified urban core enclosed by massive fortifications. This contains temples, gateways, tanks and wells. At the south-western end there is the royal centre surrounded by high granite walls.

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