Subject: Band Stand
Place: Hampi, Karnataka
Camera: Yashica Mat 124 G
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus
The Vijayanagara empire is one of the most renowned in Indian history. At the time of its zenith in the middle of the 15th century, it stretched across vast regions of southern India that today comprise the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and parts of the Deccan. These regions, which were ruled by rival dynasties before and after, shared their artistic influences, particularly in architecture, in their contact with the Vijayanagara Empire in as much as they were impacted by them in significant ways. It was a confluence of styles that led to the creation of a unique artistic lexicon in this part of India, never witnessed before or since.
Hampi, the capital city of the kingdom, was a showcase for the imagination, ambitions and abilities of the rulers of Vijayanagara and their inspired artists and craftsmen. Nowhere is this more visible than in its places of worship and the houses of its royalty. The architectural vocabulary of the empire could be said to embrace three distinct categories – religious, civil and courtly.
The temples are the most visible expressions of this unique architectural form. The Vijayanagara temple style is an amalgam of styles developed by its predecessors – The Hoysalas, Chalukyas, Cholas and Pandyas.
When it came to some of its public buildings and, particularly the palaces of its ruling class, other influences became visible as a result of ethnic and cultural integration that had taken place within the empire. Most notable is the presence of Saracenic elements in the courtly precincts of the Lotus Mahal and Zenana enclosures.
The photo in this episode is a silent tribute to the diversity of aesthetic cultures that were nurtured by the Vijayanagara Empire. It shows the Band Stand in the royal enclosure with distinct sultanate hints, as noticed in the cupola on its roof and the Saracenic arches on windows and balconies.