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Elephant Stables
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Elephant stables in Zenana enclosure

Elephant Stables

This imposing building is the best preserved and largest in the Royal Centre. In spite of attempts by some scholars to assign it a different purpose (imperial offices, barracks, etc.), its unusual design does indeed seem to indicate that it was used to house elephants. The stables comprise a long line of eleven chambers, all with lofty arched doorways opening onto a large open space. This must have served as a maidan, or parade ground for the imperial troops and animals. Domes on corner squinches roof ten of the chambers, exactly in the manner of a Muslim tomb. The central (eleventh) chamber has a flat roof since above this sits an open gallery probably once used by musicians and drummers. Its temple-like roof has long ago collapsed. The other chambers are roofed with plain or fluted domes that alternate with twelve-sided pyramidal vaults. Both domes and vaults are arranged symmetrically about the central gallery.

While the arched openings and domed chambers of the elephant stables are obviously sultanate in origin, in accordance with the general features of the Vijayanagara courtly style, the building as a whole is an original creation. It testifies to the creative spirit of the Vijayanagara builders. When exactly the stables were built and for which emperor remains a mystery, though it is likely to be a Sangama period construction of the 15th century.

The purpose of the neighbouring building on the north side of the maidan is another mystery, though its raised open arcade seems to suggest that it may have served partly as a grandstand, where the emperors and their commanders could review the troops and animals. The open hall in the interior, surrounded by a raised loggia, may have been the site of martial entertainments, such as boxing and wrestling matches.

Section and elevation of Elephant stables

Plans, Section and Elevation of Elephant Stables

Last updated February 9, 2014 - ©2014 Vijayanagara Research Project