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‘Victory City’: a brief story of the kingdom of Vijayanagara, in which Salman Rushdie’s latest novel is situated

GS-1:Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Salman Rushdie has published a new novel "Victory City", which is a fictionalized account of the Vijayanagara Kingdom and is narrated by a sorceress and poet named Pampa Kampana, who witnesses the kingdom's triumphs and failures over two centuries.


Vijayanagara Empire

  • The Vijayanagara Empire was a South Indian empire based in the Deccan Plateau that existed from 1336 to 1646.
  • At the end of the Sultanate era, Multan and Bengal broke away from the Delhi Sultanate and proclaimed their autonomy, resulting in the emergence of several influential territories in the Deccan region.
  • The empire was founded by Harihara I and Bukka Raya I, who were brothers and military commanders of the Kakatiya dynasty and served under ViraBallala III, the Hoysala King.
  • The capital of the empire was located at Vijayanagara, modern-day Hampi, on the southern banks of Tungabhadrain Karnataka.
  • At its peak, the kingdom stretched from Goa in the Konkan coast to parts of southern Odisha in the east and all the way to the very tip of the subcontinent in the south.
  • The empire was known for its rich culture, impressive architecture, and strong administration.
  • The Vijayanagar Empire was governed by four significant dynasties:
  • Sangama, Saluva, Tuluva and Aravidu.


Harihara I

  • Harihara I was a 14th century Indian king who co-founded the Vijayanagara Empire along with Bukka Raya.
  • He belonged to the Sangama dynasty.
  • He was successful in capturing the cities of Mysore and Madurai
  • In 1356, Bukka I succeeded him as ruler.



  • The most notable ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire was Krishnadevaraya, who ruled from 1509 to 1529 and was known for his military conquests and patronage of the arts.
  • According to Portuguese travelerDomingo Paes, “Krishnadeva Raya was the most feared and perfect king there could possibly be”.

Krishnadeva Raya's Expansions

  • In 1510, he captured Sivasamudram and in 1512, Raichur was conquered by him.
  • In 1523, he took control of Orissa and Warangal.
  • His kingdom extended from the Krishna River in the north to the Cauvery River in the south and from the Arabian Sea in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the east.

His Contribution

  • Krishnadeva Raya was a capable administrator who made significant contributions during his reign. 
  • He constructed large irrigation tanks and canals, strengthened the naval power to enhance overseas trade, maintained friendly relations with Portuguese and Arab traders, and increased government revenue
  • He was a patron of art and architecture and it was during his reign that the Vijayanagara Empire reached its peak of glory. 
  • He was also a great scholar and his court was adorned by a group of known as the Ashtadiggajas, including AllasaniPeddanna, Nandi Thimmana, Madayagarieight talented poetsMallana, Dhurjati, AyyalarajuRamabhadra Kavi, Pingali Surana, RamarajaBhushana, andTenali Ramakrishna.

Battle of Talikota (1565 A.D.)

  • The Vijayanagara Empire was a Hindu dynasty and faced frequent attacks from Muslim kingdoms, including the Bahmani Sultanate and the Deccan Sultanates.
  • The empire was at its peak in the 16thcentury, but declined in the late 16th century due to internal political conflicts, weakened military, and repeated invasions by the Deccan Sultanates.
  • The weak and ineffective rulers of the Aravidu dynasty, who succeeded Krishnadeva Raya, marked the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire. 
  • During the reign of Aliya Rama Raya, the armies of Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Golconda, and Bidar declared war on Vijayanagar. Aliya Rama Raya was defeated and along with his followers, met a brutal death. 
  • The city of Vijayanagar was plundered and destroyed.
  • The fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565 after the Battle of Talikota marked the end of Hindu dominance in South India and the beginning of Islamic influence in the region.
  • Many provincial governors gained independence, and the rulers of Bijapur and Golconda captured parts of Vijayanagar.


Administration of Vijayanagara Empire

  • The administrative system of the Vijayanagara Empire was structured and efficient. 
  • The king held supreme power and was aided by a Council of Ministers.
  • The empire was divided into six provinces, each governed by a Naik
  • The provinces were further subdivided into districts and villages, with each village governed by hereditary officers such as accountants, watchmen, and officers responsible for forced labor. 
  • The Mahanayakacharyaserved as an intermediary between the villages and the central administration.


The army

  • The commander-in-chief was responsible for leading the army.
  • The army was composed of infantry, cavalry, and elephants.



  • The economy was controlled through their irrigation policies, and industries such as textiles, mining, metallurgy, perfumery, and more existed. 
  • The empire had commercial ties with regions including the Indian Ocean islands, Abyssinia, Arabia, Burma, China, Persia, Portugal, South Africa, and the Malay Archipelago.


Revenue System 

  • The main source of revenue was from land taxes, which were calculated based on the productivity of the soil.
  • Agriculture was given high priority and resources were invested in constructing dams and canals.
  • Trade and commerce also contributed to the empire's revenue, with taxes imposed on various goods, including salt, silk, and spices.

Judicial System 

  • The king was the ultimate authority in the judicial system and had the power to impose severe punishments on those found guilty. 
  • Those who broke the law were fined.



  • The society was organized and structured, with child marriage, polygamy, and sati being practiced
  • The kings allowed religious freedom.


Position of Women

  • Women held a high status in the Vijayanagara Empire and actively participated in political, social, and literary affairs. 
  • They were educated in various skills, including wrestling, weapon use, music, and the fine arts. Some women received higher education as well. 
  • Historical records indicate that the kings employed women as astrologers, clerks, accountants, guards, and wrestlers.

Architectural and Literary Contributions 

  • During this era, the Hazara Ramasami temple and Vittalaswamy temple were constructed. 
  • The Prasanna Virupaksha temple of Bukka I and the Hazara Rama temple of Krishna Deva Raya are striking examples of Vijayanagara’s characteristic style and intricate artistry.
  • The bronze statue of Krishnadeva Raya is a notable masterpiece of the period. 
  • Vijayanagara’s capital Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, known for its sophisticated fortifications as well as innumerable temples and other architectural marvels.
  • Literature in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada flourished, with Sayana writing commentaries on the Vedas. 
  • Krishnadevaraya contributed to Telugu literature with his works Amuktamalyada and to Sanskrit literature with Usha ParinayamandJambavathiKalyanam.


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Fact File

A new kind of ice: ‘amorphous’ solid, water ‘frozen in time’

  • Scientists at University College London (UCL) have created a new form of ice called medium-density amorphous ice. 
  • This new type of ice matches the density and structure of water, which may allow for more in-depth study of water's mysterious properties. 
  • The new type of ice was created by shaking regular ice in a container with stainless-steel balls at minus 200 degrees Celsius. The result was a white granular powder that clung to the metal balls. 
  • This new form of ice is different from other forms of ice because it does not have a structured, hexagonal arrangement of molecules like other types of ice, and is unique in that it has no such order.

India’s big millets push, and why it makes sense to have these grains

  • The Union Budget prioritizes millets (“Sree anna” i.e.jowar, bajra, ragi) due to their health benefits and India's position as the largest producer and second largest exporter of these grains. 
  • The Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will be supported as a Center of Excellence for global sharing of best practices, research, and technology.
  • The International Year of Millets has been declared by the UN General Assembly for 2023, with several central ministries and government organizations promoting the "nutri cereal."
  • The government intends to increase procurement of millets through the public distribution system to improve nutritional status.

Benefits of Millets

  • Eco-friendly: Millets require less water than rice or wheat and can grow in rain-fed, drought-tolerant areas without irrigation.
  • Health benefits: Lower glycemic index helps control weight and blood sugar, high in fiber and micronutrients, no gluten.
  • Control of lifestyle diseases: Lower glycemic index helps control obesity and diabetes.
  • Gut health: High fiber content improves gut microbiota.
  • Reduction of food consumption: Results in satiety faster and keeps people fuller for longer.
  • Lowered incidence of anemia: Rich in iron and zinc.
  • Heart health: Contains niacin linked to lowering triglycerides and increasing good cholesterol.
  • Suitable for gluten allergy and irritable bowel syndrome.


  • Millets are not a low-calorie option and portion control remains important for any nutritional gains. 
  • Eating too much millet can result in a loss of benefits. 
  • Millets should not be polished or processed as this will raise their glycaemic index.


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