|Photograph of the ruins at Vijayanagara from the ‘Photographs to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern Indian’ collection, taken by Edmund David Lyon in c. 1868.
Vijayanagara, the City of Victory, was the most powerful Hindu kingdom in Southern India from 1336 until the defeat by the Muslim armies in 1565. It was built on the bank of the Tungabhadra River and is surrounded by granite hills. The ruins of this vast royal city incorporate distinct zones and are divided into two main groups, the sacred centre and the royal centre. The royal centre was the residential area of the royal household and included zones associated with the ceremonial, administrative and military functions of the rulers.
The Ramachandra Temple is situated in the royal centre and dates from the 15th century. It is dedicated to the cult of Rama and was most likely used as the state chapel by the Vijayanagara rulers. The main temple, set in the centre of a rectangular compound, is richly carved with reliefs depicting royal scenes and scenes from the Ramayana epic.
Lyon wrote: ‘Passing round the temple to the right, its northern façade is seen as represented in this view. On the left, a portion of the porch…is seen, and also another entrance which exists on this side, and the carvings on its face. Entering the building by either of these doors, the whole interior is found beautifully carved…four pillars of black polished granite and the whole roof are master-pieces of carving.’
Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David
Medium: Photographic print