Vijayanagara, the “City of Victory,” was a fortress city founded by an alliance of kings as a bulwark against the Muslims in the south of India. Its vast ruins can still be seen at the site of Hampi in Karnataka.
   The city was the capital of a sprawling empire that controlled almost all of India south of the Krishna and the Tungabhadra Rivers at its height under King Krishnadevaraya. The empire took the name of the city, the Vijayanagara empire.
   Vijayanagara played a key role in Hindu history, by successfully fending off many Muslim invasions and preserving and promoting Hindu culture for nearly 300 years, at a time when the rest of India was suffering complete Muslim domination. Two princes, Harihara and Bukka, created the kingdom in 1336. Harihara I (1336–57) planned and built the great new city of Vijayanagara, which became the capital of the empire in 1343. In 1346, the Hoysalas, the last remaining South Indian rivals to the Vijayanagara kingdom, were defeated.
   The city covered 20 square miles and had seven concentric lines of fortifications. It had at its height a population of 500,000 people. It was an international city with wide trade ties, which helped finance beautifully carved and embellished buildings. The culture saw a flowering of South Indian civilization with support for all the sects of Hinduism, including Vaishnavite, Shaivite, and the GODDESS, and for the heterodox Jains as well (see JAINISM).
   Further reading: K. A. Nilakanta Shastri, A History of South India from Prehistoric Time to the Fall of Vijaja-nagar (Madras: Oxford University Press, 1996); Burton Stein, Vijayanagara (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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