Vijayanagara- Foreign Travelers
Foreign accounts given by various travelers is a key to understand the nature of Vijayanagara rule. Justify
- Introduction: (upto 30 words) give a brief introduction about vijayanagar kingdom
- Body: (upto 100 words) mention about the foreign travellers and their view about the kingdom
- Conclusion: (upto 30 words) Conclude by pointing out the importance of their insights
- Vijayanagara Empire or Karnataka Empire or Kingdom of Bisnegar was established in 1336 by Harihara-I and his brother Bukka Raya I of Sangama Dynasty. Its ruins are located in current day Hampi in Karnataka.
- Four dynasties – Sangama, Saluva, Tuluva and Aravidu – ruled Vijayanagar from A.D. 1336 to 1672. It reached its climax in the end of 14th century.
- Several foreign travellers have left a vivid account of the glory of Vijayanagar. We come to know from these sources that Vijayanagar was one of the richest kingdoms of those times.
- Almost all travellers who visited the Vijayanagara empire which lasted more than 200 years (1336 A.D. to 1565 A.D.) have spoken highly of the economic, cultural, political and social life of the empire.
- The Italian traveller Nicolo and Persian traveller Abdul Razaq visited Vijayanagara empire towards the middle of the 15th century A.D.
- The Portuguese travellers Dominigos Pius, Barbosa and Nuniz came to India in the early part of the 16th century.
- Nicolo has written specifically about the religious life of the people. He has also written about the military also.
- Abdul Razaq has thrown a good deal of light about the political conditions and the administrative set-up.
These foreign accounts gave us a valuable objective document that will help us to understand the social-political-economic condition of Vijayanagara rule. Here, we are giving the list of famous travellers who visited India during reign of different rulers of Vijayanagar Empire.
- Barbosa has written about the rich social life and Dominigo Pius has described the flourishing city of Vijayanagara-the capital of the Kingdom
- Ibn Battuta (1333-1347 A.D.) — Moroccan traveller, who visited India during the reign of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq. And came to Vijayanagar during the reign of Harihar I.
- Nicolo de Conti (1420-1421 A.D.) — Venetian traveller, who gave a comprehensive account of the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar.
- Abdur Razzaq (1443-1444 A. D.) — Persian traveller, who stayed at the court of the Zamorin at Calicut. He has given a vivid account of the Vijayanagar city, while describing the wealth and luxurious life of the king and the nobles. He was greatly impressed by the fortification of the Vijayanagara empire. The aspects observed by him are
- Abdur Razzaq mentioned seven lines of forts.
- The fortification encircled not only the city but also its agricultural hinterlands and forests. Razzak noted that “between the first, second and the third walls there are cultivated fields, gardens and houses”.
- The outermost wall linked the hills surrounding the city.
- The massive masonry construction was slightly tapered. No mortar or cementing agent was used anywhere in the construction. The stone blocks were wedge, shaped, which held them in place. The inner portion of the wall was of i.e. earth packed with rubble. Square or rectangular bastions projected outwards.
- The fort was entered through well-guarded gates which linked the city to the major roads. Gateways were distinctive architectural features that often defined the structures to which they regulated access.
- The arch on the gateway leading into the fortified settlement as well as the dome over the gate are regarded as typical features of the architecture introduced by the Turkish Sultans. Art historians refer to this style as Indo-Islamic, as it grew continually through interaction with local building practices in different regions.
- Duarte Barbosa (1500-1516 A.D.) — Portuguese traveller, who has given a valuable narrative of the government and the people of the Vijayanagar empire
- Barbosa described the houses of ordinary people, though these have not survived.
- The houses of common men were thatched, well built and arranged according to the occupation. These were arranged in long streets with many open places.
- Field survey indicated that the entire area had numerous shrines and small temples, which was a proof of a variety of cults, supported by different communities.
- Wells, rainwater tanks and temple tanks might have served as sources of water to the common men of the town.
- Domingos Paes (1520-1522 A.D) — Portuguese traveller, who visited the court of Krishna deva Raya.
- Domingo Paes called the Mahanavami dibba of the Vijayanagara empire as The House of Victory’. These buildings had two platforms, one above the other. These were beautifully sculpted. On the upper platform, the king had a room made of cloth, where the idol had a shrine. It is the highest point in the city and is a massive platform. The other in the middle was placed a dais (a low platform for a throne) on which stood a throne of state.
- He suggested that for the people they showed the victory of good over evil. Both these ‘audience hall’ and the ‘Mahanavami dibba’ comprised of the valour, justice and the suzerainty of the king over all other.
- The calling of the house as the house of victory was due to the fact that it was situated at the site highest of all in the kingdoms. It was constructed so as to keep up the memory of the victory of the kingdom in war over other kingdoms and empires.
Conclusion: The vivid account of these travellers gives an insight about the socio economic conditions, administration, art and architecture of vijayanagara empire. It also speaks about the standard of living of the people and how prosperous and rich the kingdom was.