Vijayanagara, the Indian Renaissance State, contains memories of older empires

Anirudh Kanisetti

The Deccan Heritage Foundation was pleased to host historian and award-winning author of Lords of the Deccan, Anirudh Kanisetti, on a tour of Hampi led by distinguished architectural historian and DHF Co-founder Dr. George Michell in January 2024.

In his insightful article for ThePrint, “Vijayanagara was the Indian Renaissance State. It contains memories of older empires”, published on February 8, 2024, Kanisetti explores the architectural grandeur of the Vijayanagara Empire and its cultural significance in redefining South Indian architecture by integrating elements from the bygone Chola and Chalukya empires. He draws parallels between the neoclassical style of British colonial buildings in India and Vijayanagara’s temples, suggesting a similar intent of memorializing and assimilating the architectural heritage of preceding empires to assert cultural and political legitimacy.

The article delves into the historical context of the Deccan Plateau’s vibrant multicultural landscape during the 15th century CE, marked by the emergence of the Vijayanagara Empire and the Bahmani Sultanate. It highlights the fact that Vijayanagara’s architectural evolution represented a conscious effort to integrate Tamil Nadu’s urban and social systems into its dominion, reflecting a broader trend of transregional politics and cultural integration.

Kanisetti’s narrative is enriched by his recent visit to the ruins of Vijayanagara and his many conversations with Dr. George Michell. Through comparisons of early Vijayanagara temples with those from the Chalukya period, and by highlighting the subsequent introduction of Tamil architectural elements after the conquest of Tamil Nadu, Kanisetti illustrates a dynamic architectural transformation. This transformation, he argues, served not just as a reflection of the empire’s expanding cultural and political horizons but also as a testament to its innovative spirit in reimagining South India’s imperial history through architecture.

In summary, Kanisetti’s article provides a compelling examination of how Vijayanagara, hailed as an Indian Renaissance State, employed architecture as a medium of cultural synthesis and political assertion. Read the entire article at