Fairs during Vijayanagara period

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Vijayanagara kaalada santhegalu – Fairs during Vijayanagara period

Author:  M.B.Patil

Place: Hampi

Fairs have their own economical, commercial and cultural traditions when we look into the economic history of both ancient and middle ages. ‘Fair’ is fundamentally an economic activity which involves community’s purchase and selling.

Of approximately 6000 available inscriptions of Vijayanagara period, 200-250 inscriptions of Karnataka throw light on village fairs of those times, their constitution, merchandise and their political influence, tax system, financial transactions, measures and weights, export and import, rules and regulation of merchandise and formation of merchants association, foreign trade policy etc. The tradition of fairs of Vijayanagara followed the model of Hoysala’s.

Shaivas and Jains were prominent businessmen of those time. These merchants were favoured by both King and religious heads (Aramane, Gurumane). It is interesting to note that Vijayanagara inscriptions, cite ‘Salumoole Banjigas’ prominently. The author opines the word ‘Salumoole’ might be a subcaste and the decendants of Moola Bhadrashewara as per Belur inscriptions of Harihara II and in 1382 A.D. a big conference of this group was also held, according to the same inscription. The author further explains the relations between political stability and trade development and he cites the period of Bukka-I and Devaraya-11.

This essay studies the inscriptions and has made known important interland trade centers starting from Kanchi to Manne (Nelamangal ), availability of varities of articles and other details. The same has been extoled by the foreign travellers. Traveller Abdul Rajak has explained especially the trade of Rose flower in his book and the structure of the trade centres. Hampi was an international trade centre during Vijayanagara period. According Pious the travelling historian, the trade streets were named after the Kings. Mohana Tarangini of Kanakadasa extoles the fairs at Vijayanagara. The article draws further our attention w.r.t. sea trade, richness of merchants, coastal trade during Krishnadevaraya’s rule, horse purchase, the coinage used and variety of taxes in vogue. Author also explains that the place names like Shanivara Santhe, Veerarajendra pet (coorg), Santhemaralli have been accrued as a result of the important fairs held in those places.

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