Enclosure Wall

Enclosure XIV ("Zenana Enclosure"), Vijayanagara

Enclosure XIV is popularly known as the Zenana (harem) enclosure, but there is no evidence for such an association. The wall is built like a sandwich: it has an inner and an outer face of smoothed and fitted stone blocks, with an earth and rubble fill between them. The outer face is shown here. The wall was built without mortar, and originally covered with plaster.

This is a rather sloppy wall. Perhaps it was built in haste. The joins between blocks are irregular. Some gaps were filled in with small stone plugs (bottom center), while others were left open (triangular gap, left center). Closely spaced drill holes, visible on the center block and several other blocks in this photo, were used to cut the stone but then were not smoothed out. Some of the blocks, such as the one in the center of the photo, were cut in half, and then the two halves were replaced on top of each other.

The stones are larger towards the base, and smaller towards the top. Smaller blocks are easier to lift, and the builders might have thought that a mortarless wall built in this way would be more stable than if all the blocks were of comparable size.

Since the wall has been restored, it is not always possible to know what is original construction and what is modern rearrangement. Whatever the practicalities of the wall's construction might have been, its jigsaw-puzzle pattern seems just irregular enough to be visually interesting.