Vijayanagara Research Project

Vijayanagara (“City of Victory”) was founded by a local Hindu dynasty during a period of great political instability in southern India.

Their capital grew in size and magnificence as their kingdom extended its authority over much of the sub-continent. At its height in the 16th century, the city’s wealth and size amazed foreign visitors and local people alike. It fortifications, encompassing 650 sq. km. (250 sq. miles), protected palace and temple complexes, hydraulic systems, and religiously and linguistically diverse communities. After the city was sacked the structures gradually decayed; they were “rediscovered” in the mid 19th century. National and state archaeological services intensified the clearing and restoration of ruined structures from the 1970s; in 1986 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in mid 1986.

Photo caption: The village of Hampi that clusters around the 14th-16th century Virupaksha temple is a focus of contemporary Hindu pilgrimage and tourism. Aerial photograph by Claire Arni.

The site of the Vijayanagara capital, locally known as Hampi, is located in the valley of the Tungabhadra River, Karnataka, southern India.

The village of Hampi that clusters around the 14th-16th century Virupaksha temple is a focus of contemporary Hindu pilgrimage and tourism. Aerial photograph by Claire Arni. 

Reliefs on the Great Platform in the Royal Centre of Vijayanagara portray kingly roles; it was used for state ceremonies.  Photograph by Claire Arni. When
Prehistoric and Early Historic settlements are found in the region where Vijayanagara was founded in the mid 14th century. The city was destroyed in 1565 but limited occupation continued thereafter. In the mid 20th century, the construction of a large dam, led to the expansion of agriculture, industry and tourism.

John M. Fritz, Penn Museum
George Michell, University of Melbourne
Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Karnataka
Anna Dallapiccola, Edinburgh University
Sister Anila Verghese, Sophia College, Mumbai

Associated Researchers
Robert Brubaker, Fayetteville 
C. T. M. Kotraiah, Archaeological Survey of India, ret., Mysore
Kathleen Morrison, University of Chicago
Carla Sinopoli, University of Michigan
Nathalie Tobert, London
Philip Wagoner, Wesleyan University

Additional Sponsors
Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka
American Institute of Indian Studies, New Delhi and Chicago
The Asian Cultural Council, New York
The British Academy
The British Association for South Asian Studies
The National Endowment for the Humanities
The National Science Foundation
The Reader’s Digest Foundation
The Shelby White-Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications
The Smithsonian Institution, Special Foreign Currency Program
A number of private donors

RIn the Royal Centre, courtly buildings like the Lotus Mahal combine architectural features derived from temples, mosques and tombs. Photograph by John Gollings.The Vijayanagara Research Project (VRP), begun in 1980, has undertaken a program of “surface archaeology”, recording the extraordinary range and richness of archaeological detail in the core of the city through architectural and archaeological drawings, photographs, descriptions and maps. The central city, an area of some 20 sq. km. (7.7 sq. miles) contains more than 1000 standing or partly ruined structures and tens of thousands of lesser features. The art, architecture and urban form of the capital have proved important for understanding the organization of different urban activities in space and their relation to the evolution of royal power, to mythological associations of the landscape, and to underlying concepts of spatial order.

Visit the Vijayanagara Research Project website



3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


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First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
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