Lotus Mahal Pavilion

Lotus Mahal or Chitragni-mahal, as it is locally called, is not only the best-known monument in the Zanana area but also one of the finest structures in the city of Vijayanagara. It is to the south-east of the palace base. It is a two-storeyed open pavilion, square on plan with recessed sides. This type of ground plan seems to have been a popular one with Vijayanagara artisans. The ground floor has an ornate stone adhishthana and twenty-four square pillars carrying recessed and foliated arches. Originally there seems to have been large rampant yali caryatids at the outer corners, of which a mutilated one is now extant on the east side. The interior of the building is at present severely plain. The square pillars are connect¬ed by plain recessed and foliated arches with an inter¬esting and peculiar type of squinch below the corner. At the central part is a plain flat coffered ceiling deco¬rated with a lotus-bud in the centre.

A staircase on the north side leads to the upper storey which has a number of balconies with windows having recessed and foliated arches. The ceilings here are also in the form of octagonal and vaulted domes, some having flat-roofed sections. In the centre there is a deep clerestory elaborately ornamented with stucco arches, friezes and ledges, pushpa-podigai corbels and large niches with remnants of seated figures (probably different forms of Vishnu and Devi) and ending on the top in a small ornate ribbed inverted lotus dome. The exterior of the upper storey is not as ornate as that of the lower one. The cornice is a smaller cyma recta slightly curved. The superstructure consists of nine pyramidal Sikharas of varying sizes. The general plan is a number of tiers consisting of slightly-curved cyma, recta cornices (kapota) arranged one above the other in diminishing order and topped by a domical fluted Sikhara. In its original state, fully decorated, painted and covered with polished plaster work, the Lotus-mahal must have been a very imposing structure.