Wednesday 19 December 2012

Where is the throne of Vijayanagar

It is common knowledge that after the Battle of Talikota in 1565, the Muslim forces of the Deccan set upon Vijayanagar or Hampi and destroyed the city, burnt down the buildings and killed and looted people and their homes.
The Muslim invaders carried back hundreds of tonnes of valuables, books, articles and even people as slaves. However, some part of the immense treasure of  Vijayanagar was carted away to Penugonda by Tirumala Raya who made it the capital of Vijayanagar dynasty.
However, some treasures still continue to elude discovery and it is a mystery what happened to them. The Muslim accounts do not mention them as having been taken away or destroyed. Yet, there are records, both Indian and foreign, to prove that these treasures existed.
One such treasure is the magnificent throne of Vijayanagar on which Krishna Deve Raya sat as did other kings. This throne has been adequately described by Portuguese travellers and even in the accounts of Vijayanagar by Indian authors, including the Adil Shah envoy to Vijayanagar.
The Portuguese and Adil Shah envoys speak of the King’s Durbar and also of the Dharmic durbar. If Krishna Deve Raya presided over the former Vyasa Raja held court in the later. The Vijayanagar throne was a befitting seat for one of the greatest Emperors of the time.
It was a silver  throne and embellished with gems and other rare stones. It was placed on a raised platform in the durbar hall where the Emperor held court wherever he was in Vijayanagar.
Soon after the battle of Talikota, the Vijayanagar forces abandoned the city to its fate and fled.  Gangs of robbers and bandits took away whatever they could. A little later, the Muslim invaders came to Vijayanagar and took away whatever they could lay their hands on.
Yet, some prized articles eluded them and one of them was the throne of Vijayanagar. Historians now have come to believe that the throne is in Vijayanagar albeit in another form.
They saw when the royal family fled Vijayanagar in 1565, they gifted the throne for safe keeping to the Virupaksha Temple, hoping to return one day. Alas, this never happened and Vijayanagar remained a dead city centuries after the Talikota battle.
A historian from Andhra Pradesh, Dr. K. Krishna Rao, who is an authority on  Krishnadevaraya, and who has made films and written on Vijayanagar, has opined that the throne is very much in Hampi.
Dr. Rao claims to have seen the throne at the Virupaksha temple. Dr Rao and other historians say that Krishna Deve Raya and some other kings were coronated in the temple. Krishna Deve Raya was coronated on August 7, 1509.
The throne is of pure silver and it has several engravings on it. The throne is presently being used by the priests of the Virupaksha Temple to place the consort of Virupaksha on it. This view needs to be given a thought as unlike other temples, the Muslim invaders spared it to a large extent.
Now this view needs to answer another question If the throne of Krishna Deve Raya is at Virupaksha Temple, what about the throne in Mysore. This is a rare gold encrusted throne with engravings and this too was in the hands of the Vijayanagar Emperors. Why would they not use this but use the Silver throne?
Moreover, the throne was gifted to the Viceroy of Srirangapatna by the Vijayanagar emperors, Would they gift a much bigger costlier and more expensive throne than their own.
All we know is that the Mysore throne was in Anegundi, which the second capital of the Vijayanagars. What can be guessed is that the Vijayanagar Emperors used several thrones and the Mysore throne was one of them. But what happened to the rest. This still remains a mystery.
By the way, there is an original portrait of Krishna Deve Raya in the museum of Bharat Samshodana Mandal in Pune, Maharashtra. This portrait is drawn by Domingo Paes, the Portuguese traveller who was in the court of Krishne Deve Raya.
It is not only the throne of Vijayanagar that has become an object of mystery. India has several other thrones which have fired the imagination of the people and historians alike.
Some of them are the legendary throne of Vikramaditya is the stuff of legends. It is the basis for the stories of Vikram and Betal.
A stone throne of  Vikramaditya exists in Ujjain near a lake. It is still called the Vikramaditya seat.
Another throne with a hoary past in the Golden Throne of the Wodeyars. This throne is the personal property of the Wodeyars and it is open to the public only during the Dassara. This is when the ruling scion of the Wodeyars sits on the throne and conducts a private durbar. This is perhaps the most costly and most jewelled throne of India.
The Peacock Throne used by the Mughals was taken away by Nadir Shah when he plundered Delhi in 1739. The then Mughal Emperor, Muhammad Shah, helplessly watched as the marauding Shah took away the throne to Persia. The throne disappeared from view after Nadir Shah was assassinated in 1747.  The throne of Ranjit Singh has been carted away by the British and it is in the British Museum in UK. However, we still can see two thrones belonging to the Mughals.
One of the thrones is an inbuilt structure in Red Fort Delhi. It is in Diwan-I Am and it is built in marble surrounded with engravings and minature paintings. The ceremonial steps and royal marble throne in Jaisalmer fort is worth a visit.
Another throne of the Mughals is in the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, Turkey. This is a four legged throne in gold and it was gifted by Nadir Shah to the Ottoman Emperor. 
The throne of Tipu is believed to have been dismantled by the British who shared the booty.  In Jodhpur, you can still see the marble throne of the royal family. There is a throne made of sandalwood in Bikaner. It is on display in the Bikaner fort, Rajasthan.
Another Indian throne which is on display abroad belongs to Orissa. Only one part of the ivory throne remains and this part is delicately carved. It belongs to the 13th century and could have belonged to the Gajapathis. It is on display at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, USA.

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