Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Vijayanagara empire may be said to represent the

era of civilization when the destiny idea, characteristic of the

Indian soul had worked out its potentialities and the spring

and summer of Indian culture had been succeeded by the phase

of civilization characterised by the rise of a new industrial

system, an imperialism and a city state with a metropolitan

culture.' It marks the period of conservation and preservation,

standing as a splendid rampart safeguarding and

fostering the Indian and Hindu way of life against the onslaughts

of the outlandish and Muslim way of life. It is considered

the last, the greatest and the most glorious Hindu empire of the

South. The empire has left an ever-lasting mark of its

existence in the fields of religion, literature, art and polity.

The Vijayanagara state was tri-lingual, with a greater leaning

towards Kannada than Telugu and Tamil. It is true that

its rulers could not achieve the political unification of all the

Telugu-speaking areas. Their rule was mostly confined to

the south of the river Krishna. With the fall of the Musunuri

and then the Padma Nayaka kingdoms, Telangana went into

the possession of the Bahamanis. After the fall of the Reddikingdoms,

the coastal Andhra to the north of the river Krishna

became a battlefield between the Gajapatis and the Bahamanis

and witnessed unprecedented difficulties.

1. The Origin of the Vijayanagara Empire

The early history of Vijayanagara is wrapped up in obscurity

and the origin or the national affiliations of the founders of the

Vijayanagara empire is still a matter of controversy. Literary

traditions and historical inscriptions prove the fact that the

empire was founded by Harihara and Bukka, the two Sangama

brothers, in .1336 A.D. But how these brothers founded the

Kingdom and what political circumstances ted them to the

founding of the city were subjects of keen controversy and

several theories had been built up on these issues.

From the confusing mass of source material, Robert Sewell,

who was the pioneer on Vijayanagara history, could trace seven

traditions about the origin of the city and the empire:

1. According to the first tradition, the two brothers Harihara

and Bukka, who were in the service of the king of Warangal

at the time of destruction of that kingdom by the Muslims in

1323 A.D., escaped with some cavalry men to Anegondi area.

They were being accompanied by Brahmin Madhavacharya

Vidyaranya and by some means not stated became lords of

that tract and afterwards founded the city of Vijayanagara.

2. The second tradition asserts that the two brothers were

in the service of the Mahammadan governor of Warangal, subsequent

to its first capture in 1309 A.D. They were despatched

against the Hoyasala Ballala under the leadership of Malik Kafur

in 1310 A.D., which resulted in the capture of the Hindu capital

Dwarasamudra; but a portion of the force, to which these

brothers belonged, suffered defeat and the brothers fled to the

mountainous tract near Anegondi. Here they met holy Madhava

and with his help, they established the kingdom and the capital


3. According to the third tradition, the two brothers, for some

reason, fled direct from Warangal to Anegondi. This account

contributes more to their honour as the Hindus. Though

compelled first to accept service under their conquerors, their

patriotism triumphed in the end and they threw in their lot

with their co-religionists to protect South India from the Muslim


4. The fourth tradition refers to the hermit Madhava himself

founding the city after the discovery of a hidden treasure,

ruling over it himself and leaving it after his death to a Kuruba

family member who established the first regular dynasty (i.e.,


5. The fifth one, referred by Couto, a Portuguese historian,

states that while Madhava was living in the forest leading his

ascetic life, he was fed by a poor shepherd called Bukka.

Madhava foretold that Bukka one day would become a king.

In accordance with this prediction, Bukka became king of all

land and called himself Bukkarao.

6. Another version is that Harihara and Bukka may have been

feudatories of the Hoyasala Ballalas.

7. Nikrtin, a Russian traveller who was in Inlia in 1474 A.D.,

seems to favour the view that the founders belonged to the

old royal house of the Kadambas of Banavasi, since he speaks

of '...the Hindoo Sultan Kadam who resided at Bichenegher.'

Robert Sewell observes, 'Perhaps the most reasonable

account would be culled from the general drift of the Hindu

legends combined with certainities of historical facts.'

Regarding the national affiliations of Harihara and Bukka,

the founders of the Vijayanagara empire, there are two groups

of scholars sharply opposed to each other. Some opine that

the two brothers were refugees from Telangana; they fled from

the court of their sovereign Prataparudra when the latter was

taken prisoner by the armies of the Sultan of Delhi. They

established themselves at Anegondi on the banks of the

Tungabhadra and with Vidyaranya's help founded a new city

Vijayanagara or Vidyanagara on the opposite bank of the river.

This approach is based on tradition derived from the Kannada


The other group of scholars rejects this tradition completely

and hold the view that the founders were Karnatakas, subordinates

of the Hoyasala king Ballala III. They were posted

to the northern frontiers of the Hoyasala kingdom to defend

against the Muslim attacks. They discharged this task

satisfactorily. After the death of Ballala III and his Son Baltate IV,

they quietly ascended the throne and ruled the erstwhile

Hoyasala territories without opposition. This view seems to

be based on gratuitous assumptions and false identifications.


Rev. Fr. Heras, S.K. Aiyangar, B.A. Saletore, P.B. Desai,

G.S. Gai and a host of others have asserted the Hoyasala origin

of Vijayanagara, Fr. Heras affirmed, "The foundation of the

city of Anegondi which formed the cradle of Vijayanagara

empire was laid by the Hoyasala king Ballala III, and Harihara,

a near relative of the Hoyasala ruler was a frontier officer with

his headquarters there". The exponents of this theory argue

that the city of Vijayanagara itself was established by Ballala III

after the destruction of Dwarasamudra in 1327-28 A.D. by

Muhammad Bin Tughlak. This view is based upon the statement

of Ferishta that Ballaladeva built a great fort in 1344 A.D.

in the hilly tract of his own northern frontier and named it after

his own son Bijan Rai. Basing on this Muslim chronicler, the

scholars assert that the five sons of Sangama were in the

service of Ballala III and when the latter established the new

city after the name of his son to protect the northern frontier

of his kingdom, he appointed the Sangama brothers Harihara

and Bukka as his generals there and himself made Tiruvannamalai

as his capital, S.K. Aiyangar argued that the brothers

worked in cooperation, if not in subordination to Ballala III. The

foundation of the Vijayanagara as such is the outcome of that

policy of the last Hoyasala who dislodged the garrisons of

Muhammad Bin Tughlak and getting south India free from the

Muslims. When the Hoyasala king passed away, it is these

brothers who would stand out as having rendered yeomen

service to the empire.

B.A. Saletore expressed the view that the sons of Sangama,

whom the feudatories and generals of the Hoyasalas readily

acknowledged as the rightful successors of the Hoyasalas,

should have been intimately associated with the Karnataka

country. 'It was only their profound sense of responsibility

as successors to the rich heritage of the Hoyasalas that made

the founders themselves give extraordinary prominence to

the royal city of their great predecessors—Dorasamudra.' The

exponents of the Kannadiga origin of the founders of Vijayanagara

further point out that the historic city of Vijayanagara

itself is now a part of the Karnataka State and the area, though,

is bilingual, inclines more towards Kannada than Telugu. Even

the Telugu poets like Srinatha describe the Vijayanagara kingdom

as 'Kannada Rajya Lakshmi' and Devaraya II as 'Karnata Kshitipala'.

The Sangama kings assumed Kannada titles and patronised

the Kannada language and out of the total about 5000

Vijayanagara inscriptions almost half the number are in

Kannada. Hence, it is concluded that the Sangama founders

of the Vijayanagara empire were only Kannadigas.

However, the very basis for the Karnataka origin of the

founders of the Vijayanagara empire is defective. The same

Ferishta, who stated that Ballala IIl built in 1344 A.D. the

Vijayanagara fort after the name of his son in the northern

frontier of his kingdom, also said that the city was founded

by a Hindu prince who had been taken captive and set free by

the Muslims. With regard to Ferishta's date 1344 A.D. for

the foundation of the Vijayanagara city, it is against all the

known chronological facts. Ballala III died in 1342 A.D. itself.

Further the Delhi Sultan was having his dominion exercised from

1328 A.D. to almost upto 1336 A.D. over the Anegondi region

and subsequently Harihara I held his sway over the same area.

Hence, for any sound historical argument, such ill-informed and

self contradictory statements of Ferishta cannot be taken as

the basis.

Further, there is no concrete proof to show that the Sultan

of Delhi destroyed Dwarasamudra in 1327-28 A.D. On the

other hand, the Muslim chronicles affirm that Ballala III handed

over the rebel Bahauddin to the Sultan and made peace with

him. This fact clearly indicates that there was no necessity

for the Sultan to destroy Dwarasamudra, There is also no

evidence to prove that Harihara and his brother were ever in

the service of Ballala III. Contrary to this, there is epigraphical

and literary evidence to show that Harihara and Ballala fought

with one another. Another thing is that simply because the

area, over which the Sangama brothers established their authority,

relates to Karnataka, and the language which was patronised

by them and in which half the inscriptions were issued

happened to be Kannada, and the titles borne by them happened

to be Kannada, one should not jump to the conclusion that

the founders of the empire were Kannadigas. It is but natural

for the rulers of any dynasty to develop and promote, to issue

their records in and to assume their titles in the local language

especially in the land of their adoption. Further, though somewhat

late in composition and legendary in nature, the very

Kannada chronicles like 'Keladi Nripavijayam', 'Rajakalanirnaya',

and 'Siva tatva Ratnakara' assert the tradition that the founders

of the Vijayanagara empire were officers in the court of prataparudra.

Thus the theory of the Karnataka origin of the Vijayanagara

appears to be untenable.


Numerous traditions like 'Kumararamana Kathe', 'KampdJYuddha'

etc. in Kannada refer to Kampilidevaraya who ruled

Kampili in the early decades of the 14th century. A.D., successfully

resisting the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiyas of

Warangal and the Hoyasates. His son Kumara Rama was a

great hero. His brother-in-law was Sangama, the father of

Harihara and others. Kampili gave shelter to Bahauddin, the

rebel nephew of Muhammad Bin Tughlak. Ibn Batuta, the

celebrated contemporary Moorish traveller and a friend of the

Sultan, states that Kempili was sieged by the Sultan and

Kampilidevaraya and Kumara Rama perished in the battle. The

town was taken "and eleven sons of the Rai were made

prisoners and carried to the Sultan, who made them all Musalmans."

Two of them, Harihara and Bukka, became favourites

of the Sultan and were set free for their upright conduct in

prison. When the people of Kampili revolted in 1334-35 A.D.

against the Muslim governor, the two brothers were sent back

to quell the revolt and administer the region as governors. But

they established their independent government with the help

of a sage at Anegondi,

Some scholars take this account as historical and consistent.

According to them, Ibn Batuta was an eye-witness.

With the exception of some discrepancies, Ziauddin Barani,

who held an important post in the revenue department in the

court of Muhammad Bin Tughlak, narrates more or less the

same theme. Further, from the very beginning, the Vijayanagara

rulers never described themselves as subordinates of either

the Hoyasalas or the Kakatiyas. The Hoyasala epigraphs are

totally silent about their relationship with Vijayanagara. The

final conclusion of the supporters of this theory is that the

founders of the Vijayanagara empire were of Kannada stock,

but the empire was neither a fulfilment nor a continuation of

the Hoyasala kingdom.

However the narration of Ibn Batuta mingles historical

facts with hearsay accounts. As far as the close association

of the two Sangama brothers with the realm of Kampili is

concerned, one may not find objection. But the two brothers

being spoken of as the sons of Kampili Rai is not acceptable

since no corroborative or confirmative evidence is available.

Further in the traditional Hindu account given by Nuniz, it is

stated none of the royal princes escaped from death in the

hands of the Muslim invaders. Ibn Batuta states about the

survival of the eleven sons. Even with regard to the reason

for the Sultan's attack on Kampili, white the Muslim accounts

say it was a campaign against the rebel nephew, according to

the traditional Hindu account it was a war undertaken from

pure greed of conquest. In view of such discrepancies and

lack of confirmative evidence, the theory of Kampili origin also

cannot be taken as valid and final.


Rabert Sewell, who performed the miracle of 'making the

dry bones live' through, his pioneering work 'A Forgotten Empire'

on the history of Vijayanagara asserted that the two brothers

Harihara and Bukka of the Kuruba caste (shepherd community)

were men of strong religious fervour. They were the treasury

officers in Warangal under Prataparudra II. After the Muslim's

sacked Warangal in 1323 A.D., they fled and joined the court

of Anegondi or Kampili. In the subsequent developments,

Kampili was sacked by Muhammad Bin Tughlak; the two

brothers were taken captives to Delhi and were forced to

embrace Islam. When the people revolted in Kampili against

the Muslim governor, the Sultan sent Harihara and Bukka to

restore order in Kampili and rule the country. Soon after their

arrival, they renounced Islam and embraced the old faith. Afterwards

they founded the city of Vijayanagara.

Of late, N. Venkataramanayya, more or less on the tines

of Sewell, developed and postulated the Andhra origin of the

founders of Vijayanagara. Taking into consideration the

evidence of tradition furnished by works like Vidyaranya

Kalajnana, Vidyaranya Vrittanta, Rajakalanirnaya, Piramahasamhiti

and Sivatatva Ratnakara, the evidence of the Muslim

historians like Ziauddin Barani, Isarni and Ferishta, the evidence

of the foreign visitors like Ibn Batuta and Nuniz and the

evidence of inscriptions like Gozalavidu record, Venkataramanayayya

states that "the founders of Vijayanagara were at first in

the service of Prataparudra of Warangal, and that when that

monarch was defeated by Muhammad Bin Tughlak and taken

prisoner, they fled to Kampili and took refuge in the court of

Kampilideva. They were, however, captured by the Sultan

after the sack of Kampili in A.D. 1326 and were carried away

to Delhi where they were forcibly converted to Islam. On the

outbreak of a rebellion in Kampili and the collapse of the

provincial government, they were released by the Sultan from

prison and sent with an army to Kampili to reconquer it from

the rebels and rule the province as his deputies. This they

successfully accomplished; but they did not long remain loyal

to the Sultan. They came under the influence of Vidyaranya

who persuaded them to renounce Islam, and threw in their

lot with the Andhra nationalists who had just then succeeded,

under the leadership of Kapaya, in expelling the Musulmans

and reestablish their national independence. Harihara and

Bukka then reverted to their ancient faith and, having declared

their independence, assumed the leadership of the Hindus of

Kampili in their fight against the Musulmans."


Tradition attributes the foundation of the city to Vidyaranya,

and Vidyanagara, the alternative name by which the capita!

city was known lends colour to the tradition. But the inscriptions

of Harihara I and his successors refer either to Harihara I

or Bukka I as the builder of the city of victory. The conflicting

evidence gave rise to several speculative theories to explain

the circumstances under which the city was founded. However

it is certain that Vijayanagara was functioning as the capital

of the new kingdom from at least 1344 A.D., the same time

from which at least Bukka I was associated with his brother

in the administration of the kingdom as his co-regent. According

to one of the Kalajnanas, it took full seven years to complete

the construction of the city. From this it is logical to conclude

that the foundations of the future imperial city were laid in

1336 A.D. itself when Harihara I declared his independence at


Harihara I after declaring his independence in the Kampili

region, wanted to consolidate his position and organise his

kingdom for effective defence. In the medieval times, the

security of a kingdom depended on the strength of its forts.

The capital Anegondi, on the northern bank of the river Tungabhadra

was not impregnable. Especially in those troublous

times, it was not a safe place as the capital of a Hindu kingdom

newly established against the interests of the Muslims. It fell

into enemy's hands twice within a decade. So Harihara I wanted

to shift the capital to a place inaccessible to the enemy. He

selected the site on the opposite bank of the Tungabhadra in

the neighbourhood of the Virupaksha temple, around the Hemakuta

hill for the new capital. His brother and right hand-man

Bukka I shouldered the task, carried it into execution and


While the tradition stresses the significant role played by

the sage Vidyaranya in the founding of the Vijayanagara empire

and the imperial city, epigraphic evidence is not available on

this subject. In the local records, his original name was given

as Madhava Bhatta. He was a Smarta Brahmin of Karnataka

born poor in a town on the banks of the Krishna in the last

quarter of the 13th century A.D, He went to Kanchi along

with his brothers Sayana and Bhoganatha for study at a very

early age. After return from Kanchi, he settled down as a

married man. At that time south India witnessed the onslaughts

of the Muslims from the North. Vidyaranya developed religious

spirit and did even penance for more than five years in the

surroundings of Hampi. Subsequently his coming into contact

with the Sangama brothers, their reconversion into the Hindu

faith, founding of Vijayanagara empire and the city—all these

were recorded in the local accounts. Nuniz also refers to the

significant role of Vidyaranya.

However there are certain inaccuracies in the local records.

At the time of founding Vijayanagara, Vidyaranya was mentioned

as the head priest of the Sringeri Pith. But the epigraphic

evidence asserts that at last upto 1376 A.D. Bharati Tirtha was

the chief pontiff of the Advaita-Matha at Sringeri. In an inscription

of Bukka I dated 1356 A.D. Bukka is mentioned as

making a request to Bharati Tirthg to see that Vidyaranya would

come to south from Varanasi. Gangamba's 'Mathura Vijaya'

makes reference to Vijayanagara city twice but does not refer

to Vidyaranya. The account mentions Kalamukha Kriyasakti

as the Kulaguru. Even the inscriptions of Harihara II issued

in the years 1380 A.D., 1384 A.D., and 1386 A.D. elegising

Vidyaranya, make no reference to his role in the founding of

Vijayanagara. No doubt, some inscriptions refer to Vidyaranya

and Vidyanagara, but the genuineness of these records is

questioned by Fleet, Rice, Fr. Heras, Narasimhachari and Gopinatnarao.

According to these scholars, taking advantage of

the weakness of the last Sangama rulers, the pontiffs of the

Sringeri Matha fabricated and propagated these stories and

even the inscriptions were deliberately forged by these gurus

to highlight the Hindu religious fervour in the founding of the

empire and the city. Hence these scholars treat Vidyaranya

as a person of no consequence as far as the origin of the empire

and the city is concerned.

2. Circumstances Under which the Vijayanagara

Empire was Established


Ala-ud-din was by all counts, the first Muslim genera!

who crossed the Vindhyas and invaded the Hindu States of

South India. Being the nephew of Jalal-ud-din Khalji, the

founder of the Khalji rule in Delhi, he (Ali Gurshasp Malik was

his real name) rendered his services to his uncle and falrver-inlaw

in crushing the revolt (Aug-Sept. 1290 A.D.) of the disaffected

Turkish amirs Jed by Malik Chajju-Kishlu Khan, governor

of Kara. This young man, 'calculating, unscrupulous and

aggressive', was eventually appointed governor of Kara. His

domestic misery (due to haughty and arrogant wife) increased

his thirst for avenging himself on the family and his unsympathetic

critics by deeds that would free him from the bitter

family tutelage and ensure him an independent and glorious


He realized that money was the first requisite and raid

on the neighbouring Hindu states and beyond the Vindhyas

appeared to assure a working capital for the furtherance of his

ultimate objective of capturing the throne of Delhi. In this

process, he first captured Bhilsa (Vidisha) near Bhopal, plundered

and destroyed the richly endowed temples and collected

enormous booty. Here he 'assiduously gathered knowledge

of the fabled wealth of southern Hindu kingdoms'. On the

pretext of invading Chartderi, Ala-ud-din, pretending as a fugitive

prince, marched in the winter of 1295 A.D. to Ellichpur and

then passed through Lasaura with his eight thousand picked

cavalry. He had his assault on the capital Devagiri of the

Yadava kingdom, when its main army had gone southwards

under heir apparent Singhana Deva. The ruler Ramachandra

or Ramadeva sued for peace. Even Singhana who arrived from

the south was also defeated- Enormous booty and huge war

indemnity were extracted. Devagiri was reduced to a vassal

state. This invasion 'not only provided Ala-ud-din with the

money he needed so badly to further his ambitious plans to

succeed to throne of Delhi but also opened the way to south

India to the Muhammadans, none of whom had dared to cross

the Vindhyas so far.'

Ala-ud'din then hatched a plot, assassinated Jalal-ud-din,

won the nobles over to his side with the Deccan money and

usurped the Delhi throne in 1296 A.D. He was obliged to keep

a large and effective army in order to keep the nobles, under

check, maintain law and order, subjugate and conquer the

independent and semi-independent states, and to check the

Mongol menace. His revenue reforms were due to his desire

to increase state resources. The execution of his policy of

conquest of north India drained mostly these resources. He

soon felt the need to look for money outside his territory. His

assiduously gathered earlier knowledge of the fabled wealth

of southern Hindu kingdoms beyond Devagiri came to his help,

instead of conquering and annexing these kingdoms, he

shrewdly apted for squeezing them of their immense treasures

and making them pay tributes regularly to augment the imperial

treasury. S.K. Aiyangar rightly observes in his work 'South

India and Her Muhammadan Invaders' about the motives of

Ala-ud-din in undertaking the southern expeditions thus : "Alaud-

din's object in these various invasions of the Dekkan and

the farther south appears to have gone no farther than making

them the milch-cow for the gold that he was often much in

need for the efficient maintenance of his army "


also encouraging to the Khalji Sultan. The Yadavas of Devagiri,

who were already reduced to a state of vassalage by

Ala-ud-din, were masters of the entire western deccan from

the Tapti to the Krishna. The Kakatiyas of Warangal were

the rulers of the eastern Deccan excluding the entire Rayalasima

and almost touching Kanchi in the south. The Hoyasalas of

Dwarasamudra and the Pandyas of Madura divided between

themselves the rest of the peninsula'. Besides these four

great Hindu kingdoms, there was a petty but valourous Kampili

state in the Raichur Doab.

Financially, all these states were well off. The Kings

possessed immense riches. They considered it religiously

meritorious to build temples and endow them richly. Famous

shrines came up. Their accumulated wealth was the pride

of south India, There was complete religious freedom. 'But.

unfortunately, the clash of interests of rival dynasties rendered

harmonious progress of the country impossible. The Yadavas

against the Kakatiyas, the Kakatiyas against the Pandyas, the

Pandyas against the Hoyasalas and the Hoyasalas against the

Yadavas carried on generations of warfare with a zeal worthy

of a better cause Their mutual animosities had taken such

deep roots that even in the face of foreign invasions they

could not eschew their quarrels and present a united front

against their common foe'.

Ala-ud-din turned his attention beyond Devagiri on the

Kakatiya country. While he himself was engaged in sieging

the fort of Chitor in Rajasthan, he sent a huge army via Bengal

to invade Warangal. This expedition was a failure and the

Muslim armies were defeated by the Kakatiya ruler Prataparudra

II in 1303 A.D. The effect of this defeat was that the

king of Devagiri who had been paying tribute to the Sultan

stopped paying that. He even gave refuge to the ruler of

Gujarat and his daughter who fled their kingdom to save themselves

from the Sultan. As soon as Ala-ud-din was free from

the problems in the north, he sent his redoubtable general

Malik Kafur, to realize the arrears of tribute from Devagiri.

Kafur's forces defeated the Yadava king in 1307 A.D. and

established the supremacy of Delhi over Devagiri. Malik Kafur

even made captive the family of the ruler Ramadeva. Ramadeva

was,however, well-treated at Delhi and sent back to south

with heavy presents. He felt obliged to Ala-ud-din and remained

loyal to him. This was a diplomatic move by the Sultan and

it paid dividends and Ala-ud-din was thus able to get a loyal

ally in the south who proved to be of great help in his later


To wipe out the disgrace of defeat which the Delhi army

faced in the hands of Prataparudra II, Malik Kafur, assisted by

Ramadeva, entered Telangana, defeated Prataparudra in January,

1310 A.D., seized all his accumulated wealth and forced him

to pay annual tribute to the Sultan. He then spent the subsequent

two years in subjugating the Hoyasala and the Pandyan

kingdoms. Among other things even temples were not spared

from loot in these victorious expeditions. Malik Kafur once

again marched on Devagiri in 1312 A.D. when Ramadeva's son

and successor raised the standard of revolt. Devagiri was


Following the death of Ala-ud-din in 1316 A.D., there was

anarchy in the country due to war of succession and palace

intrigues. Taking advantage of this, Devagiri declared itself

independent. Soon after restoring order in the north, Ate-uddin's

successor Qutb-ud-din Mubarak personally took the field

against Devagiri. The Yadava kingdom came into the possession

of the Sultan. Mubarak's general Khusrau Khan collected

the arrears of tribute from Prataparudra; Gulbarga, Dwarasamudra

and Madura were once again reduced to submission.

Again in 1320 A.D. when Khusrau Khan killed Mubarak

Khalji and made himself Sultan, the country was plunged into

disordar. The peninsula threw off the Muslim yoke. The

Hindu princes in the south reasserted their independence. As

soon as Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlak established himself on the

Delhi throne in September, 132O A.D., he wanted to bring the

whole of Deccan peninsula under his direct control. Previously

the Khalji Sultans satisfied themselves simply with the establishment

of their supremacy over the southern states. But

with the accession of Ghiyas-ud-din to the Delhi throne, there

was a change in the policy of the rulers of Delhi towards the

southern states. All attempts were made to create the defeated

states as province of the Delhi empire.

Ghiyas-ud-din sent his eldest son Jauna, entitled Ulugh

Khan (later Muhammad Bin Tughlak), to reconquer the Hindu

states of the South. Ulugh Khan failed in .his first attempt

in his mission against Warangal in 1321 A.D. In 1323 A.D.,

he was sent again to Warangal. This time the Kakatiya kingdom

was overthrown and Prataparudra committed suicide in

captivity. Then followed the defeat and humiliation of Mabar.

'By 1325 A.D. the Yadava, the Kakatiya and a major part of

the Pandyan dominions were incorporated into the Delhi

Sultanat and Devagiri, Warangal and Madura became the seats

of Muslim provincial governors.' However the Hoyasala kingdom

somehow survived the Muslim occupation. The overthrow

of the Yadavas provided a sigh of relief for Kampilidevaraya,

the ruler of Kampili. He and his brave son Kumara Rama could

withstand the three successive attacks of the Hoyasala Ballala III

on their territory in the Raichur Doab between 1320 A.D. and

1325 A.D.

In 1325 A.D. Jauna became the Sultan with the name

of Muhammad Bin Tughlak. In pursuit of his cousin and the

rebel governor of Sagar, Bahauddin Gurshasp, the imperial forces

marched on Kampili, the chief of which gave him shelter.

Kampili was attacked and destroyed in 1327 A.D. Kampilidevaraya

and his son perished in the battle. The female

members of the royal harem already threw themselves into

the pyre to save their honour. The other members were taken

captives to Delhi, They included Harihar and Bukka, the two

Sangama brothers who, after the destruction of Warangal in

1323 A.D. migrated to Kampili, entered into matrimonial alliance

with its king and became his treasurers.

After subjugating Kummata and capturing Hosdurg, the

imperial forces turned towards the Hoyasala kingdom, where

Bahauddin had taken shelter. The Hoyasala ruler Ballala Ill was

not prepared to risk his kingdom for the sake of a refugee. He

made peace with the Sultan by handing over Bahauddin and

accepting the sovereignty of Delhi. Thus the entire peninsula

from Tapti to Cape Camorin with the exception of Jajnagar

or Orissa, was included in the Delhi Sultanat. The Sultan

stayed in Deccan for two years and made arraignments for

the administration of the newly acquired territories.


With the advent of the Muslim rule in the south, conditions

underwent a drastic change. The administration under the

Maliks, Amirs and other officers was tyrannical and oppressive

and the people began to groan under hardships, if the new

masters had remained content with the acquisition of more

political power, the Hindus would have passively accepted

them. But the soldiers of the Turkish conquerors behaved as

plunderers. The plight of Andhradesa under the Turkish is

graphically described in the contemporary Vilasa copper plate

grant of Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka. The record says "In a

hundred sinful ways, the rich were tortured for the sake of

money. Merely on beholding the Parasikars (Muslims) some

abandoned their lives. Brahmins were disallowed to perform

their religious rites and rituals. Temples were destroyed and

idols were desecrated and broken. All the agraharas, which

had long been in the enjoyment of the most learned, were

taken away. Forcibly deprived of the fruits, of their cultivation,

the husbandmen, both the rich and poor, got ruined. In that

great calamity, people could not regard their money, wives

and others earthly belongings as their own. The wretched

Yavanas (Muslims) revelled always in drinking wine. Bating

cow's flesh, sporting in amour and killing the Brahmins. When

such is the case, how could the world of living beings exist?

Situated as the country was without the possibility of a saviour

being concieved even in imagination, the land of Telinga, tormented

in this way by those Yavana warriors who were exactly

like Rakshasas, was in flames like a forest surrounded by

wild fire".

Gangamba, in her 'Madhura Vijaya', enumerates similar

things, describing the condition of the south under the Muslim

rule characterised by oppressive nature, religious fanaticism

and intolerance. The iconoclastic zeal spurred them to destruction

of the Hindu temples. On those ruins, with the same

materials, mosques were built. Alexander Rae referred to the

big mosque' at Rajahmundry as a good example of a Hindu

temple (the temple of Venugopalaswami of the Eastern

Chalukyan times), retaining its original features but converted

into a Mohammadan mosque. Similarly, at Eluru and Kondapalli

also the Hindu structures were dismantled and mosques

were built. Apart from this, there was a violent shake up of

the entire social fabric. The traditional institutions of the land

were overthrown and the age-long practices were upset. The

people could not reconcile themselves to the new dispensation.

There was an outburst of national indignation and patriotic

enthusiasm for driving out the aliens.



The widespread discontent among the people towards

the Tughlak regime was exploited by the dislodged and disgruntled

princes, both Hindu and Muslim of the South. The

unrest was spearheaded into a general movement of resistance

against the Delhi imperialism. Especially after the Sultan left

for the North due to Kishlu Khan's rebellion, the movement

picked up momentum. The Musunuri chiefs, the Padma Nayaks

and the Reddis took the lead in Telangana and coastal Andhra

and established independent kingdoms. In the ceded districts,

Araviti Somadeva drove away Malik Naib from Anegondi and

freed Kampili from the Muslim rule. Ballala IIl also repudiated

his allegiance to the Sultan and began to attack Kampili. In

1334 A.D. the Nawab of Madura declared independence.

Barani, Isami and Nuniz and the local records recorded

the events that led to establishment of the Vjayanagara empire.

It is recorded that when the revolt broke out in Kampili and

the position of Malik Naib, the deputy of the Sultan was made

extremely precarious, the Malik informed his master about his

pitiable plight and appealed for immediate action. Then the

Sultan's choice fell on Harihara and Bukka. The two Sangama

brothers, who were related to and officers under Kampilidevaraya,

were previously taken captives to Delhi and forced to

embrace Islam. The Sultan, impressed by their upright conduct,

set them at liberty and sent with an army to Kampili to reconquer

it from the rebels and rule the province as his deputies.

The two Sangama brothers thus returned to Kampili but they

initially faced many difficulties. The locals could not immediately

trust them by reason of their conversion into Islam.

Therefore they established themselves at Gutti and probably

securing the blessings of the 'celebrated Vidyatirtha, the pontiff

of the Sringeri Matha, and through the instrumentality of the

latter, apostatized and soon endeared themselves to the people.

Then they occupied Anegondi: As Barani mentions, when

Musunuri Kapaya Nayaka captured Waragal from Malik Maqbul.

Harihara proclaimed independence in Kampili and thus in 1335

A.D. established his independent kingdom at Anegondi.

Since Anegondi on the northern bank the river Tungabhadra

was as a capital not impregnable to the enemies,

Harihara I thought of a new well-fortified and safe capital. On

religious and strategical considerations, the foundations were

laid down in the same year for the new city of Vijayanagara

where the ruins of Vijayanagara now exist opposite to Anegondi,

on the southern bank of the river Tungabhadra. The task of

completing the construction of the city was entrusted to

Bukka I.

3. The Sangamas (1336 1485 A.D )

HARIHARA I (1336-56 A.D.)

The Vijayanagara kingdom, thus founded by Harihara,

expanded into a mighty empire under his successors. The

dynasty to which the founder-brothers belonged came to be

known as the Sangama dynasty after the name of their father,

Sangama. Harihara had four brothers namely Kampanna, Bukka I,

Marappa and Muddappa, All the brothers had undivided interest

and so actively assisted Harihara I in all his endevours

to consolidate and expand the newly established kingdom.

Harihara's first task was to consolidate his position and

organize his kingdom for effective defence. Apart from entrusting

the task of building the new Vijayanagara fort to his brothar

Bukka, he strengthened the fortifications of Badami, Udayagiri,

Gooty and Anegondi for the security of his realm. Bukka I

completed the construction of Vijayanagar in seven years and

by 1344 A.D. the capital was shifted from Anegondi to Vijayanagara.

To increase the economic resources of his dominions,

Harihara encouraged the farmers to cut down forest and bring

fresh land under cultivation by leasing it to them on easy terms.

He created a heirarchy of officials to collect revenue and carry

on local administration.

Then a great era of conquest and territorial expansion

began. Sometime after 1340 A.D., Bukka wrested Penugonda

fortress from the Hoyasalas and made it his provincial headquarters.

After the treacherous murder of Ballala III in 1342

A.D. by the Sultan of Madura, his successor could not withstand

the aggressiveness of the Sangama brothers and so

sought safety in flight. By 1346 A.D. the loyal chieftains of

the Hoyasalas were subdued and all the erstwhile Hoyasala

territories were annexed to the Vijayanagara kingdom. This

was the most notable achievement in tire reign of Harihara I.

There was a commemorative victory jubilation grand festival

at Sringeri in that year at which all the brothers and the nobles

of the realm attended.

In 1347 A.D., Marappa defeated the Kadambas and annexed

their territories. Bukka I marched on the Tamil country

and conquered Mabar. But this conquest proved to be a shortlived

one. After the withdrawal of the Vijayanagara troops,

Sultan Adil Shah asserted himself at Madura in 1356 A.D.

However the northern most part of Tamil land, the region

around Tirupati must have formed part of the Vijayanagara


In the south-east, the Reddis were driven out from their

anccstoral house, the lower Pennar valley. Meanwhile in tire

north of the Krishna, the Deccan amirs revolted against Delhi

and founded the Bahmani kingdom in 1347 A.D. under A!a-uddin

Bahman Shah. Ferishta and TabaTaba mention that Ala-uddin

waged war against Harihara I and defeated him. But there

are no evidences to prove this war between Vijayanagara and

Bahmani kingdoms at this stage.

Thus Harihara I laid the foundation of the empire on sound

basis. As Sewell observes "We see the first chief of Vijayanagar

quietly and perhaps peacefully acquiring great influence

and extensive possessions".

BUKKARAYA I (1356-77 A.D.)

Bukka, the younger brother of Harihara, did yeomen service

to his brother in founding the empire and the city, in consoiiding

and expanding the Vijayanagara power. Before accession

to the throne, he acted as Yuvaraja and was placed in charge

of the Western districts of the Telugu country. However he

did not confine his activities to the administration of the territory

directly under his charge. He took active interest in the

affairs of the kingdom as a whole. When Harihara I died without

issue, being an affectionate brother a trustworthy general

and a capable administrator, Bukkaraya I succeeded him as the

sole sovereign of the kingdom.

After his assumption of power, to check the power of

his nephews, to unify the kingdom and strengthen his position,

Bukka appointed his own sons as governors of some of the

outlying provinces and made them responsible for maintenance

of the royal authority. Then he sent an expedition under the

leadership of his son Kumara Kampana against Rajanarayana

Sambuvaraya, who asserted his independence in the Rajagambirarajya.

Sambuvaraya died in the early stages of the

war and his son was also ultimately killed in 1360 A.D. With

this Vijayanagara became the mistress of the Tamil province.

Rajagambirarajya consisting of the Chenglaput, North Arcot

and South Arcot districts.

The fierce and protracted Bahmani-Vijayanagara conflict

commenced in the reign of Bukka. Whether the religious antagonism

played its own part in the struggle between the two

powers or not, the strategically important Krishna-Tungabhadra

doab, with its impregnable forts of Raichur and Mudgal and

places like Bankapur, the control of which would give the one

an advantageous position over the other for the ultimate overlordship

of the whole peninsula, became a bone of contention.

The greed of the Sultans at the wealth and prosperity of the

Vijayanagara empire also dragged the two states into a longdrawn


In 1358 A.D., Bukka, after entering into an alliance with

the Musunuri chief Kapaya Mayaka of Warangal, invaded the

Raichur doab. The allied forces were totally defeated by the

Bahmani Sultan Muhammad Shah I. Finally Kapaya Nayaka

capitulated and gave an immense treasure as indemnity and

a magnificent throne set with precious stones. To punish

Bukka, the ally of Kapaya, the Sultan ordered him to pay the

musicians who had given the entertainment in his Gulbarga

court. But the proud Bukka insulted the messenger of the

Sultan, invaded the dcab, captured Mudgal and ravaged the

territory (1366 A.D.). The infuriated Sultan crossed the Krishna

and recaptured Mudgal. Bukka fled to Adoni and later retreated

to Vijayanagara. The Sultan ordered a general massacre of

the Hindus around the city and this made Bukka sue for peace.

A treaty was concluded (1368 A.D.) and both the parties agreed

to the river Krishna to be the boundary between the two

kingdoms and in future wars, the non-combatants should not

be molested.

War again broke out in 1377 A.D. between the new

Bahmani Sultan, Mujahid Shah and Bukka over the question

of the Raichur doab Mujahid marched on Adoni and later

the city of Vijayanagara. He could not succeed in seizing

either one. Meanwhile he was murdered by his hostile uncle

Daud Khan.

In 1364-65 A.D., shortly after the first phase of his war

with the Bahmani Sultan came to an end, Bukka was engaged

in a war with the Reddis of Kondavidu. Little is known about

the causes and events of this war. The Reddi ruler was

defeated. Ahobalam and Vinukonda with their depndent territories

were annexed to the Vijayanagara kingdom.



After his conclusion of peace treaty with Muhammad

Shah I in 1368 A.D., Bukkaraya turned his attention to the

south. The overthrow of the Sambuvarayas and the annexation

of Tondaimandafam brought Vijayanagara directly into

conflict with the Sultanate of Madurai. Bukka could not remain

indifferent at the miserable plight of the Hindu population

in the Mabar country. He sent his valiant son Kumara

Kampana at the head of an expedition. The expedition which

was undertaken between 1368 A.D. and 1371 A.D. was vividly

described by Kampana's wife Gangadevi in her 'Madhuravijayam'.

Kumara Kampana was accompanied by great generals like

Gopanna Dannayak and Saluva Mangu. He set out from Gingee

and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Madura forces at Samayavaram

near Srirangam, next captured Kannanur-Koppam, restored

the gods Sriranganatha and Hoyasaleswara to their respective

shrines and finally defeated and killed Fakhruddin

Mubarak Shah, the Sultan of Madurai, in 1371 A.D. Thus the

whole of the Tamil country was annexted to the Vijayanagara

kingdom. This conquest was regarded as one of the greatest

achievements in the history of Vijayanagara. It soon raised

a small principality to the dignity of an empire. It was after

these conquests Bukka, assumed the imperial titles like 'Maharajadhiraja',

'Rajaparameswara', 'Lord of the three seas' etc.

'Side by side with these political events, the empire was

pulsating with great religious and literary activities'. Scholars

were invited from far and near and royal patronage was rendered

to them to work on a variety of subjects. Bukka's title 'Vedamargapratisthapaka'

indicates his interest and endeavour to

restore the Hindu dharma. Madhavacharya and his brother

Sayana wrote their commentaries in Sanskrit on Vedic works.

Nachanasonra, the Telugu post received Bukka's patronage.

The embassy which the ruler sent to China in 1374 A.D. shows

his interest in foreign affairs. By all counts, Bukkaraya 1 was

considered the real architect of the Vijayanagara empire.

HARIHARA II (1377-1404 A.D.)

Bukkaraya's son Harihara II ruled for 27 years and consolidated

the supremacy of Vijayanagara all over southern

India. Soon after his accession to the throne, he replaced his

cousins by his own sons as governors of provinces and made

an attempt thus to forestall the tendencies to disruption due

to the ambitions of his more distant relatives. He succeeded

in putting down rebellions and enforcing his authority. His

son Virupanna played an important role in bringing back the

Tamil country to subjection. The final extinction of the Madurai

Sultanate took place in 1378 A.D. After the subjugation of the

Tamil country, Virupanna led an expedition to the island of

Ceylon and exacted tribute from its ruler,

Harihara II, through his son Devaraya I, who was the

governor of Udayagiri, deprived the Kondavidu Reddis of their

possessions in Kurnool, Nellore and even parts of Guntur during

the period 1382-85 A.D. When the alliance between the

Velamas of Rajakonda in Telangana and the Bahmanis spelt

danger to both Kondavidu and Vijayanagara, Harihara II allied

himself with the Reddis through a matrimonial! alliance. He

gave his daughter to a son of the valiant Reddi general Katayavema.

Two expeditions were sent into Telangana before the

end of 1390 A.D. Finally it was in the year 1397 A.D. Panugal

was taken.

Sometime before 1380 A.D. the Vijayanagara forces under

Madhava Mantrin captured the Goa port and its neighbouring

areas, Saptakonkans and important ports of Chaul and Dabhoi.

With this, Harihara II became the master of the entire west

coast of Deccan. According to Ferishta, Firoz Shah, who

The Vijayanagara Empire 211

ascended the Bahmani throne in 1397 A.D., defeated Harihara II

and the latter paid an indemnity. It might be a reference to

some initial victories of the Sultan against the Vijayanagara


Harihara II was a worshiper of Virupaksha (Siva) but he

patronised the Saivas, Vaishnavas and Jains alike. Irugappa,

a Jain scholar, was his general.

After the death of Harihara II in 1404 A.D., the war of

succession broke out among his surviving three sons and it

lasted for about two years. At first, Virupaksha succeeded

in securing the throne, but was soon removed by Bukka II.

who ruled for two years. Finally, Devaraja I became the king

and celebrated his coronation on 5th November 1406 A.D.

DEVARAYA I (1406-22 A.D.)

Nuniz, the Portuguese chronicler, refers that Bukka I and

Devaraya I extended the city of Vijayanagara by raising new

walls and towers and by strengthening the fortifications. But

the great achievement of these two brothers was the construction

of a dam across the Tungabhadra, diverting the waters

of the river into the city. Tor several miles a channel was

cut out of solid rocks from the base of hills and it may be

regarded as one of the most remarkable irrigation works in

South India.'

Early in his reign Devaraya I had to face the invasion of

the Bahmani Sultan, Firoz Shah. Ferishta says that it was

the result of Devaraya's infatuation for a beautiful goldsmith

girl who lived in Mudgai. But other accounts attribute it to

the Sultan's determination to wage a Jihad (holy war) against

the Vijayanagara king. Sayyad Ali states that Firoz returned

with a huge amount of money collected from the Raya. This

discomfiture of Devaraya I was taken advantage of by the

Reddis of Kondavidu. Peda Komati Vema Reddi occupied the

rich territories of Udayagiri. He was in league with Firoz and

the Velama ruler Anadeva. To counteract this tripple alliance.

Devaraya I and Kataya Vema Reddi of Rajahmundry joined

hands together. In the subsequent war, Kataya Vema was

defeated and killed. Soon the war became a war between

the Raya and the Sultan. The Bahmani forces attempted for

two years to capture the fort of Panugal. At this juncture.

by a diplomatic revolution, Devaraya I broke the traditional

friendship of the Velamas of Rajakonda with the Bahmanis.

Plague and famine prevailed. Finally Devaraya I defeated the

Bahmani forces. The territories of Kondavidu were partitioned

between Devaraya I and his new ally, the Velamas of


NICOLO DE CONTI, an Italian traveller, visited Vijayanagara

in 1420 or 1421 A.D. and described the court, its festivals, its

currency and other matters. He called Vijayanagar 'Bisnegalia'.

He described, "the city of Bisnegalia is situated near very steep

mountains The circumference of the city is sixty miles; its

walls are carried upto the mountains and enclose the valleys

at their foot. In this city there are estimated to be ninety

thousand men fit to bear arms."

"The inhabitants of this region marry as many wives as

they please, who are burnt with their dead husbands. Their

king is more powerful than all other kings of India. He takes

to himself 12000 wives, of whom 4000 follow him on foot

wherever he may go and are employed solely in the service of

the kitchen, A like number, more handsomely equipped ride

on horse back. The rest are carried by men in litters, of whom

2000 or 3000 are selected as his wives on condition that at

his death they should voluntarily burn themselves with him

which is considered to be a great honour for them".

The death of Devaraya I was followed by the reigns of

his sons Ramachandra and Vijayaraya I. Vijayaraya ruled for

about five years and as Nuniz says, he 'did nothing worth

recording'. He was assisted by his son Devaraya II in the

administration almost from the beginning.

The Vijayanagara Empire 213

DEVARAYA II (1422-46 A.D.)

Devaraya II was associated with his father in the administration

of the empire since 1422 A.D. His coronation might

have taken place sometime later. He assumed the title 'gajabetekara'

(Hunter of elephants). This has been explained in

two ways—as a metaphor referring to his victories over enemy

kings who were as strong as elephants, and more literally as

indicating the king's interest to the sport of hunting elephants.

Devaraya II was by far the greatest ruler of the Sangama

dynasty. He was involved in a series of wars with the Bahmani

rulers. Ahmad Shah (1422-36 A.D.), the brother and successor

of Firoz Shah, soon after his accession to the throne, desirous

of avenging the humiliating defeat at Panugal, invaded the

Vijayanagar empire. Devaraya II, with his new ally Anavota II

of Warangal, penetrated as far as Etgir in the Gulbarga district.

While he was successfully attacking the enemy on his own

soil, the king of Warangal deserted on the battlefield. The

Vijayanagara army suffered defeat. Moreover, Bhanudeva IV,

the king of Orissa, invaded the coastal Andhra country. Ahmad

Shah took the offensive and laid waste the Vijayanagara territories.

According Ferishta, the Raya sued for peace. It must

be noted in this context that the Sultan shifted his capital

from Gulbarga, near the Vijayanagara frontier, to Bidar, situated

in the hilly tract farther north in the interior of his dominions.

This transfer of the capital was not without significance. The

incessant wars with Vijayanagara and some sudden attack

on Gulbarga probably compelled the Sultan to transfer it.

An epigraph from South Kanara district dated 1429-30

A.D., refers to two victories of Devaraya II against the rulers

of Andhra and Orissa. The Velamas, who deserted Devaraya,

joined the Orissa ruler Bhanudeva, invaded the coastal Andhra

country and established themselves there. First the Rajahmundry

Reddi chiefs had to acknowledge the sovereignty of

the Orissa king. Then the Orissa and the Velama forces crossed

the Krishna and occupied the territories of the erstwhile kingdom

of Kondavidu from the Vijayanagara officers.

Soon after the Muslim menace was over, Devaraya II

launched an attack on Bhanudeva IV and the Valamas. The

territories of the old Reddi kingdom of Kondavidu were reconquered

and incorporated with the empire of Vijayanagara

and the power of the Reddis {Virabhadra Reddi) of Rajahmundry,

which was in abeyance between 1424 A.D. and 1427

A.D. was completely restored.' This task was completed by

Devaraya II by 1428 A.D.

K.A.N. Sastri mentions that during the reign of Devaraya II,

the Vijayanagara dominion spread to the extreme south of

India into Kerala and the ruler of Quilon was subjugated. The

Zamorin of Calicut, however, seems to have retained his independence.

Abdur Razzak, the Persian envoy, who visited

South India in 1443 A.D., states that the Zamorin lived in

great fear of Devaraya II and when he received a letter from

the latter to tire effect that the envoy should be sent

to Vijayanagara court without delay, he instantly carried out

the order. The same envoy states that Devaraya was supreme

over the whole of South India and his dominions extended

from Ceylon to Gulbarga and from Bengal (Orissa) to Malabar.

Nuniz asserts that the rulers of Quilon, Ceylon, Pulicat, Pegu

and Tennaserim paid tribute to Devaraya II. According to

these accounts, the Ceylonese expedition was led by his minister

Lakkana Dandanayaka who occupied Jafna.

Devaraya's relations continued to be hostile with the

Bahmani power. With the death of Ahmad Shah and the

accession to the throne of his son Ala-ud-din II in 1435-36 A.D.,

tranquility was broken. The Muslim chroniclers recorded two

wars, one in 1435-36 A.D. and another in 1443-44 A.D. In the

first war Ala-ud-din attempted to recover the arrears of tribute.

There was no decisive outcome. But this Bahmani raid led to

the reorganisation of the Vijayanagara army in 1442 A.D. The

causes for the repeated reverses of the Vijayanagara army were

analysed in a council and steps were taken introducing reforms

to remedy the deficiencies in the Vijayanagara military set up.

The Muslims were recruited into service. Complete religious

freedom was given to them. Jagirs were allotted to them. A

mosque was built for their use in Vijayanagara. A copy of

trie Koran was placed before the throne so that they might

perform their obeisance to the ruler without sinning against

the Muslim law. The Hindu archers also received better training

than before. Attempts were also made to improve the

quality of horses.

Abdur Razzak relates an attempt on the life of Devaraya II

in 1443 A.D. This attempt was made by a scion of the ruler

in a banquet probably at the instigation of the Bahmani Sultan.

The conspiracy was a failure and many of the nobles involved

were kilted. While the Vijayanagara was plunged in this confusion,

the Sultan Ala-ud-din II demanded the usual payment

of tribute money then amounting to 7 lakhs of Varahes. Devaraya

returned a defiant answer and his commander Lakkanna

invaded the doab, captured Mudgal, plundered the Sultan's

territories as far as Sagar and Bijapur and returned with a large

number of prisoners. But Ferishta gives a different account

of the war, and claims victory for the Sultan. Devaraya retained

Mudgal finally.

ABDUR RAZZAK'S VISIT to Vijayanagara in 1443 A.D. was

an important event of the reign of Devaraya II. The Persian

ambassador in his 'History of Persia' gives an account of

Vijayanagara relating to topography, administration and social

life. He refers to the limits of the empire, the attempt on the

life of the emperor and other details. He observes : "The city

of Bijanagar is such that eye had not seen, nor ear heard of

any place resembling it upon the whole earth." He mentions

king's absolute powers and his high admiration and esteem for

the Brahmins, the defence of the city, the splendour of the

houses, the physique and personal accomplishments of the

king. Above all, Razzak gives an admirable account of the

brilliance of Mahanavami festival in which he was a spectator

As already referred, Devaraya II, though had leanings towards

Vira Saivism, was tolerant in religious matters, He gave

freedom of worship to the Muslims. He also caused a Jain

temple to be erected in the capital in 'Pan Supari Bazzar'. His

name is associated with beneficial reforms like the discontinuation

of Varasulka and the enforcement of Kanyadana (free gift

of the bride).

Himself a scholar and an author, Devaraya II was a great

patron of men of letters in Sanskrit and vernacular languages.

He was delighted in holding literary debates. On one such

occasion, the Telugu poet Srinatha defeated Dindima. Devaraya II

honoured him with Kanakabhisheka and the title of 'Kavisarvabhauma'.

The authorship of 'Mahanatakasudhanidhi' and a

'Vritti' on Badarayana's Brahmasutras, both in Sanskrit, was

attributed to the ruler. Of the Kannada poets, Kumara Vyasa,

the author of Kannada 'Bharata' and Chamarasa, the author

of 'Prabhu Lingalila', were famous in his court. Thus the reign

of Devaraya II marks the golden age of the Sangama dynasty.


The glorious reign of Devaraya II came to an end with his

death in 1446 A.D. The immediate political situation at Vijayanagara

is not definitely known. The general assumption is

that he was succeeded by his son Mallikarjuna. But literary

and epigraphic evidence shows that Devaraya's brother Vijayaraya

II ruled for a short time in 1466-67 A.D. The dessensions

in the royal family and the patricidal wars from 1446 A.D.

onwards proved disastrous to the Sangama dynasty, which was

finally replaced by the Saluvas.

The reign of Mallikarjuna (1447-65 A.D.) 'marks the beginning

of a long period of decline of the royal power which only

terminated with the disappearance of his dynasty about 1485

A.D.' The weak and incompetent rule gave the enemies of

Vijayanagara a golden opportunity to regain their lost hold.

The refractory nobles began to assert independence. The

Velamas made a new home for themselves in Velugodu (Kurnool

district) when their capital Rajakonda was seized by the


Kapilesvara, the Gajapati ruler of Orissa, made a common

cause with the Bahmani Sultan and invaded the kingdom. Both

laid seize to Vijayanagar but the city defied all their efforts

to capture it. The invading armies had to retire without accomplishing

much, Kapilesvara, however, reduced the Reddi

kingdom of Rajahmundry and took Kondavidu before 1454 A.D.

The Kshatriya and Velama chieftains of Telangana helped him

in his enterprise. Subsequently, Kapilesvara extended his conquests

upto Srisailam and included a large part of the Kurnool

district. His son Hamvira proceeded against Mahmud Gawan,

defeated the Bahmani forces, captured Warangal and later, on

Humayun's death in 1461 A.D, Bidar also. He then conquered

Udayagiri in the Nellore district and Kanchipuram and Trichincpoly

in the southern provinces of the Vijayanagar empire (1463

A.D.). The Telugu districts became part of the empire of

Orissa for some years, But the sovereignty of Vijayanagara

in the southern lands was upheld by its powerful nobles such

as Tirumalaideva Maharaja and Saluva Narasimha. Tirumalaideva

held Trichinopoly, Tanjore and Pudukkottai and Narasimha.

the governor of Chandragiri, was prominent in the centre and

in the eastern parts of the empire. These nobles rose into

prominence and resisted the Bahmani and Gajapati aggressions.

Mallikarjuna was murdered and the throne was usurped

in 1465 A.D. by his own cousin Virupaksha II ('Prapannamritam').

Nuniz describes Virupaksha as a weak and unworthy

sovereign. He was sensous 'caring for nothing but women

and to fuddle himself with drink'. During his days large tracts

of land were lost to the Muslims, including Goa. Chaul and

Dabhol. On the east coast also, the Bahmani Sultan Muhammad

Shah III successfully led his daring adventure to the south

as far as Kanchi. One important event of Virupaksha's reign

was the recapturing of Udayagiri from the Gajapati forces with

the help of Saluva Narasimha,

Disgusted with the misrule of Virupaksha II, his eldest

son murdered him. The patricide placed his younger brother

Padearo on the throne. The first act of this new ruler was

to get his benefactor assassinated. Then Padearao plunged

into debauchery, neglected the affairs of the state and repeated

the crimes and follies of his father. 'The succession of weak



and unworthy niters after Devaraya II impaired the sound

internal administration that prevailed in the kingdom. The authority

of the central government, continued to decline, was heading

towards disruption. The total disruption was however

averted by Saluva Narasima'. To save Vijayanagara from extinction,

Narasimha with the support of the nobles and leading

members of the realm drove away Padearao and usurped the

throne and with this, the rule of the Sangama dynasty came

to an end in 1485 A.D.

4. The Saluvas (1485—1505 A.D.)

The Telugu and Kannada lexicographers give the meaning

of the term 'Saluva' as a hawk used in hunting. The literary

works tike Jaimini Bharatamu. Saluvabhyudayam, Ramabhyudayam

and the copper plate grants of Immadi Narasimha

clearly state that 'Saluva' was a title conferred for the first time

on Mangldeva, the great-grandfather of Saluva Narasimha who

was the founder of the Saluva dynasty of Vijayanagana. Mangideva

is said to have made the world of enemy-birds know

that he was a Saluva. He played an important role in Kumara

Kampana's conquest of Madurai during the reign of Bukkaraya I.

After Mangideva, the title was adopted by his descendants.

Tradition points to Kalyani in northern Karnataka as the

original home of the Saluvas. The Gorantla inscription, the

earliest of the Saluvas, traces their origin from the Chalukyas

and the Kalachuris who ruled over Karnataka with Kalyani as

their headquarters. These references connect the Saluvas of

the east coast to Kalyani, implying their migration from northern

Karnataka to Andhra. But none of the records mention this


The Saluvas make their first appearance in Andhra in the

first half of the 14th century A.D. simultaneously with Harihara

and Bukka, the founders of Vijayanagara. As noted above.

Mangidejva of the family took a leading role in the Madurai

campaign of Kumara Kampana and thereby got the title 'Saluva'.

From then onwards, his descendants came to be known as

the Saluvas. They were of Atreya gotra and disciples of the

Vaishnava teacher Tatacharya. They claimed themselves to

be Kshatriyas.

The Sangamas and the Saluvas were drawn closer to each

other by matrimonial alliances which paved the way for closer

collaboration in the maintenance and preservation of Vijayanagara

empire'. Nuniz states that Narasimha, captain of Padearao

(the last Sangama) was in some manner related to him.

Confirmative evidence for this relationship comes from literature

and inscriptions. Harihara II seems to have married the

daughter of his general Saluva Ramadeva. Later, Harima, sister

of Devaraya II was married to Saluva Tippa, an uncle of Saluva

Narasimha. It is but natural that as a result of these relations,

the Sangamas gave a favoured treatment to the Saluvas. Saluva

Narasimha seems to have no such special relationship with his

Tuluva generals Isvara Nayaka and Narasa Nayaka.


Prior to the Usurpation of the throne of Vijayanagara, Saluva

Narasimha, son of Gunda, was the ruler of Chandragiri rajya.

Nuniz states that Narasimha reigned forty four years, probably

taking into consideration his years of rule over Chandragirirajya

and the consequent five years of rule as the emperor. Hence

it may be said that he succeeded his father to the hereditary

estate in about the year 1448 A.D. He was related to the

Sangama rulers through his uncle Saluva Tippa. Tippa, who

had a distinguished record of service to the empire, was

offered in marriage Harima, the elder sister of Devaraya lI.

Apart from the family estate Chandragiri (Chittoor district),

Saluva Narasimha acquired the estate of Nagar (South Arcot

district) as well. His inscriptions started appearing from the

year 1452 A.D. Soon after, anarchy and confusion prevailed

in the south-eastern parts of the Vijayanagara empire due to

the repeated attacks of the Gajapatis of Orissa. Due to the

disturbed conditions in Vijayanagara under the weak and incompetent

ruler Mallikarjuna, Kapilesvara Gajapati ventured to

invade the coastal Andhra. Before 1448 A.D, he occupied the

entire Rajahmundry kingdom. Sometime between 1454 A.D.

and 1455 A.D. Kondavidu, Addanki and Vinukonda which formed

part of the Vijayanagara empire, were also occupied. Later,

the Bahmanis also suffered territorial loss. Then Kapilesvara

commissioned his son Hamvira to lead the grand army to the

south. Udayagiri Kanchi, Padaividu, Veludilampatti—Savidi,

Tiruvaruru and Tiruchirapalli, one after the other fell into the

hands of the Gajapatis. Chandragiri thus passed into the

hands of the Gajapatis before 1464 A.D. The 'Oddiyan Galabhai'

for a time shook the very foundations of the Vijayanagara


But soon Saluva Narasimha, the general and viceroy of

Mallikarjuna, asserted himself and revived the Vijayanagara

authority in the southern lands. He inflicted a crushing defeat

on the Gajapati army and recovered Chandragiri also before

1467 A.D. Meanwhile, Virupaksha II seized the Vijayanagara

throne from his cousin Mallikarjuna. He was weak, sensuous

and unworthy sovereign. So the task of completing the liberation

of the country from the foreign yoke was now on the

shoulders of Narasimha himself. His general Isvara Neyaka

defeated the Gajapati army under the command of Hamvira

and captured Udayagiri in 1469 A.D. and the followed up war

of succession among the Gajapati's sons provided this excellent

opportunity for Saluva Narasimha to win back the lost


Then it seems that Narasimha led his southern campaigns

probably to quell a revolt by the Bana chief Bhuvanaika Vira

Samara Kolahalan bearing the Chola titles in the Pudukkottai

region. He marched on to Tiruvannamalai, Kumbakonam, Srirangam,

Madura and Ramesvaram, receiving tributes from the

chiefs of the region all along the way. The Bana chief fled

before him. All these series of victories led Saluva Narasimha

emerge as the saviour of the empire end the officers and nobles

began to recognise him as the defacto sovereign in the south.

'The civil war in Orissa and the Bahmani intervention in

that war enabled Narasimha to extend his authority in the

north-east. While the Bahmani army was busy conquering

Rajahmundry and Kondapalli, Narasimha established his authority

over all the region extending from Udayagiri to Musulipatam

in the north-east' before 1475 A.D. Then probably at the

request of Purushottama Gajapati, Narasimha, accompanied by

Araviti Bukka marched into Telangana and made the Bahmanis

and their ally Hamvira helpless. Taking advantage of this

situation, Purushottama deposed his brother Hamvira and

recovered his throne by 1476 A.D. Having achieved the object,

Narasimha's forces withdrew from Telangana into the Godavari

region. But his secret understanding with Purushottamadeve

to destroy the Muslim authority along the east coast by means

of a simultaneous attack from the south and north could not

be realised due to the swift and unexpected arrival of large

Muslim army in the neighbourhood of Rajahmundry. Subsequently,

the Sultan Muhammad Shah III undertook the Kanchi

raid in 1480-81 A.D. Narasimha's general Isvara Nayaka

defeated the Muslim troops at Kandukuru. Again at Penugonda

also the Sultan's forces were totally crushed.

The Oddian Kalabhai, the Bana occupation of Kanchi, the

loss of Goa and the Bahmani raid on Kanchi discredited the

authority of the ruling dynasty (Sangama) throughly.' The

drunken revelries and senseless hatreds among the members

of the royal family undermined the prestige and security of

the realm. The integrity and the very existence of the Vijayanagara

empire was threatened during the reigns of Mallikarjune

and Virupaksha II. Especially the reign of weak, cruel, sensuous

and unworthy Virupaksha II witnessed the shaking of the very

foundations of the empire. The whole country was roused to

indignation and rebellion. The situation was further accentuated

when Virupaksha was murdered by his eldest son. The patricide

had his younger brother Padearao (Praudha Devaraya)

crowned king. The most infamous deed of this new sovereign

was to slay his very benefactor. His preference to stay at

the capital most of the time, drowning himself in an ocean of

pleasure and repeating the crimes and follies of his father,

further worsened the situation.

In the circumstances Saluva Narasimha could not remain

Indifferent and resolved to save the empire from further degeneration

and disintegration. The only way for this was to

put an end to the old dynasty and assume the royal title himself.

Having assured himself of the support of all the nobles

in the empire, Narasimha sent his trusted general Tuluve Narasa

Nayaka to Vijayanagara to take possession of the city and

the throne. The 'craven' king Padearao fled and the city and

the treasures passed into the hands of Narasa Nayaka.

Dr. N. Venkataramanayya aptly remarks, "That Narasimha

usurped the throne cannot be gainsaid; but if usurpation was

ever justified by the conditions that necessitated it, it was

in this case". On some day in the month of August, 1485 A.D.

this Saluva usurpation took place and Narasimha ascended the


After succeeding to the throne, Saluva Narasimha's immediate

task was to recover the lands alienated during the lawless

regime of former times. 'The support of the captains and the

chiefs of the kingdoms which enabled him to oust the old

dynasty did not outlast the act of usurpation'. To enforce

his authority he was obliged to fight against his erstwhile

supporters and friends. The Samabeta chiefs of Peranipadu

in the Gandikota Sima, the Saluva chiefs of Bommavaram and

the Palaigars of Ummattur and Talakadu deserve special mention

among them. Narasimha had to spend time end energy

in fighting and subduing these chieftains. These internal troubles,

which he certainly overcame, greatly weakened his capacity

to check external enemies.

Taking advantage of the weakness that crept into the

Bahmani kingdom after the death of the Sultan Muhammad

Shah III in 1482 A.D., Purushottama, the Gajapati king of Orissa

invaded the eastern coastal country, caputred Kondavidu,

advanced upto the Gundlakamma and laid siege to Udayagiri.

His minister Ganganamantri succeeded in getting Saluva

Narasimha trapped through his wiles and acquired Udayagiri

during the year 1490-91 A.D. This fort continued to remain

under the authority of the Gajapatis until 1514 A.D. when

Krishnadevaraya captured it back.

Saluva Narasimha undertook the reorganisation of the

defence-mechanism, The loss of the Western ports like Goa

during the reign of Virupaksha II was compensated when he

conquered the Tulu country. He revived the horse trade of

the Arabs by building up the ports of Honavar, Bhatkal, Kakanur

and Mangalore. "He caused horses to be brought from Ormuz

and Aden into his kingdom, and thereby gave profit to the

merchants, paying them for the horses just as they had asked."

Further, he took measures to strengthen the efficiency and

the martial spirit of his forces. Narasimha died sometime in

1491 A.D.

Saluva Narasimha evinced keen interest in cultural pursuits

also. He was a scholar in Sanskrit and a devotee of

the Madhava saint Sripadaraya. Under his patronage Rajanatha

Dindima wrote 'Saluvabhyudayam' in Sanskrit. Narasimha

also extended his loving care and patronage to the development

of Telugu literature Pillalairrarri Pinavirabhadra wrote 'Sringara

Sakuntalamu' and 'Jarmini Bharatamu' in Telugu. Thus by

his timely saving of the empire from total disintegration, by

his reorganisation of the defence mechanism, by keeping up

the cultural traditions and building up the peace and prosperity,

Saluva Narasimha carved out his own niche in the history of

the Vijayanagara empire.


1503 A.D.)

Saluva Narasimha, at the time of his death, entrusted the

care of the empire and of his two young sons to his loyal

general end minister Tuluva Narasa Nayaka. On his death,

Narasa Nayaka raised his elder son Timmabhupa to the throne

and himself began to act as the Rakshakarta (protector). This

elder prince was murdered by an enemy of Narasa Nayaka in

order to foist the crime on the head of the Regent. But the

younger prince was crowned and he came to be called Immadi

Narasimha But Narasa Nayaka remained the Regent and

retained all the powers in his hands in the best interests of

the realm and even 'assumed the royal style along with his

Saluva titles'.

When his bonafides were suspected by Immadi Narasimha.

the Regent and the ruler fell apart. Narasa Nayaka retired to

Penugonda. In order to rescue his reputation, he planned the

seizure of Vijayanagara, marched with his troops and seized

Vijayanagara. Immadi Narasimha was ill-prepared for measuring

swords with his Regent and agreed to the terms of the latter.

Narasa Nayaka, to insure against any future risks from the

king, removed him to Penugonda and kept him there under

close watch. Some scholars depict this as the second usurpation.

But S.K. Aiyangar opines that Narasa Nayaka appears

to have carried out his trust loyally in accordance with the

wishes of his master, not withstanding attempts to damage

him both physically and morally.

The records of Narasa Nayaka's descendants enumerate

his numerous military campaigns, by dint of which he restored

the integrity of the empire, and the enemies, whom he con-.

quered during the thirteen years of his regency. About the

time when Saluva Narasimhe died, the authority of the Bahmani

Sultan completely collapsed. Qasim Band, the Prime Minister

of the Sultan, made his master a mere tool in his hands. To

curb the growing power of Adil Khan of Bijapur, he, in alliance

with Konkan and Vijayanagara attacked Bijapur. Narasa Nayaka

captured the forts of Raichur and Mudgal. Adil Khan was forced

to buy peace by ceding these two forts. Subsequently, he

tried to recover them and sustained a severe defeat and was

forced to seek shelter in the Manava fortress. Pretending

submission, he invited Narasa and others for a peace conference

and treacherously attacked them. Narasa managed to escape

and the doab once again passed into the hands of the Muslims.

Ail the Tuluva records credit Narasa Nayaka with victory

over the Gajapati. Probably when the Gajapati king Prataparudra

led an expedition against Vijayanagara and advanced upto

the Pennar, Narasa Nayaka defeated and drove him back.

In order to assert the effective central authority in the

south, Narasa Nayaka undertook an expedition against the chiefs

and nobles in the south. He defeated the tyrannical and oppres-

sive governor of Trichi and Tanjore, Koneriraja. He also compelled

the Chola, Chera and Manabhusha Pandya to acknowledge

the suzerainty of Vijayanagara. He next proceeded against

the rebellious Palaigars of Ummattur and their allies. The

island fort of Srirangapatnam was captured and the leader of

the rebels was taken prisoner. Thus the Vijayanagara authority

was firmly established in the Tamil country and Karnataka.

An important event of historical significance that took

place during the period of regency of Narasa Nayaka was the

arrival of the Portuguese on West-coast of India. Not realising

the significance of this event, Narasa did not extend any protection

to his Bhatkal chief and left him to his fate whan,

in 1502 A.D. Vasco-da-Gama imposed commercial restrictions

on the chief. Narasa Nayaka died in the month of November,

1503 A.D.

Narasa Nayaka was a patron of letters and several eminent

poets flourished at his court. The Telugu literature received

a fresh impetus from the Regent. Thus Narasa Nayaka who

found the empire In a convalescent condition, 'imparted fresh

strength to it and left it fully vigorous pulsating with new life.'

5. Tuluva Dynasty (1505-76 A.D.)

VIRA NARAS1MHA (1503-05-09 A.D.)

After the death of Narasa Nayaka, his eldest son Vira

Narasimha succeeded him as the Regent of the empire. By

this time, the king Immadi Narasimha was grown up and

capable to manage his own affairs. But Vira Narasimha maintained

status quo for sometime and served the interests of

his master loyally. By 1505 A.D., 'Power without privilege

must have galled him greatly, and he conspired to get rid of

his master'. Accordingly, he got his master in Penukonda

assassinated and declared himself king in 1505 A.D. This was

described as the second usurpation in the history of Vijayanagara

empire. With this came to an end the brief rule of

the Saluva monarchs at Vijayanagara, yielding place to a new

line of kings called the Tuluva dynasty,Vira Narasimha ruled as king for five years. His usurpation

of the throne evoked much opposition. Nuniz states that the

whole land revolted under its captains. His years of rule were

almost entirely spent in fighting. Yusuf Adil Khan of Bijapur,

who sought to extend his dominion beyond the Tungabhadra,

allied himself with Kassapa Udaiyar, the Vijayanagara governor

of Adoni, marched on the Vijayanagara territory and laid seize

to the fort of Kandanavolu (Kurnool). However the Aravidu

chief Ramaraja and his son Timma, the able generals of Vira

Narasimha defeated him and expelled him from the Vijayanagara


Vira Narasimha next turned towards the rebels in the

Karnataka and Tulu districts. His attempts to put down the

revolts of the Palaigars of Ummattur and Talakadu ended In

failure. However, he succeeded in dealing with the rebels on

the west coast. He conquered the whole of Tulunadu and

took possession of all its ports. Varthema, an Italian traveller

of Bologna records the Vijayanagara attempt (1506 A.D.) to

recover Goa from the Muslims. The attempt might be a futile

one. Even before the erring chieftains of Ummattur and other

places could be taught a lesson, Vira Narasimha died in 1509 A.D.

Vira Narasimha, inspite of his continuous engagement in

warfare throughout his reign period, improved the efficiency

of his army by introducing changes in the methods of recruitment

and training of his forces. He offered attractive prices

to the horse dealers to get good horses for his cavalry. He

maintained friendly relations with the Portuguese. He encouraged

all kinds of military exercises including duel-fights. He

took steps to promote the welfare of the people. He abolished

the marriage-tax on an experimental basis. He made magnificent

gifts to all the important temples of south India.

LUDOVICO Dl VARTHEMA, an Italian traveller of Bologna

travelled in India between 1502 A.D. and 1508 A.D. He visited

Vijayanagara in 1506 A.D. He describes Vijayanagara as a great

city, "very large and strongly walled It is situated on the

side of a mountain, and is seven miles in circumference. It was

wealthy and well supplied, situated on a beautiful site and

enjoying an excellent climate. The king keeps up constantly

40,000 horsemen and 400 elephants. The elephants each carry

six men and have long swords fastened to their trunks in

battle. The common people go quite naked with the exception

of a piece of cloth about their middle. The king wears a cap

of gold brocade two spans long His horse is worth more

than some of our cities on account of the ornaments which

it wears,"

Nuniz records that while Vira Narasimha was on his deathbed,

he sent for his minister Saluva Timma and ordered him

to put out the eyes of his half-brother Krishnadevaraya so that

his own eight year-old son might succeed him to the throne

and that the minister satisfied the dying king by producing

before him the eyes of a she-goat. But there is no evidence

to prove this. On the other hand, local traditions maintain

that Vira Narasimha himself chose his brother as his successor.


Robert Sewell says, "From the accession of Krishnadevaraya

to the throne of Vijayanagar in 1509 A.D. we once more

enter into a period when the history of the country becomes

less confused and we are able to trace the sequence of

events without serious difficulty. This was the period of

Vijayanagar's greatest success when its army everywhere was

victorious and the city was most prosperous." Krishnadevaraya's

reign marks, 'the grand climax in the development of the

empire, and the successful achievement of the objects for

which it was actually founded.'

According to Prof. O. Ramachandraiya, Krishnadevaraye

was born on 16th February 1487 A.D. As already noted, Nuniz

mentions the circumstances under which Krishnadeva was

raised to the throne of Vijayanagara. Paes, the Portuguese

chronicler who was in Vijayanagara about the year 1520 A.D.,

also remarks that Saluva Timma brought up Krishnadevaraya

and made him king. About the personality and character of

the king, he described glowingly—"The king is of medium

height and of fair complexion and good figure, rather fat than

thin; he was on his face signs of small-pox. He is the most

feared and perfect king that could possibly be, cheerful of

disposition and very merry; he is one that seeks to honour

foreigners and receives them kindly, asking about all their

affairs whatever their condition may be. He is a great ruler

and a man of much justice, but subject to 'sudden fits of rage;

and this is his title—Krishnarao, the great, king of kings, lord

of the greater lords of India, lord of the three seas and land".

Sewell also narrates, "Krishnadevaraya was not only monarch

de jure but was in very practical fact an absolute monarch of

extensive power and strong personal influence. He was the

real ruler. He was physically strong in his best days and

kept his strength upto the highest pitch by hard bodily exercise.

He rose early and developed all his muscles by the use of

Indian clubs and the use of sword. He was fine rider and

was blessed with the noblest presence of which favourably

impressed all who came in contact with him. He commanded

his immense armies in person, was able, brave and statesmanlike;

and was withal, a man of much gentleness and generosity

of character. He was beloved by all and respected by all."

Krishnadevaraya's coronation was celebrated, in all probability,

on the birthday of Srikrishna of Saka 1432, corresponding

to August 8, 1509 A.D. His first act on coming to

the throne was to send his nephew, son of Vira Narasimha,

and his own two brothers. Achuta and Ranga to the Chandragiri

fort to secure his own position free from all plots and intrigues

of the rival claimants. Before he set on his expeditions, he

remained at the capital for a year and a half teaming the affairs

of his kingdom.

Krishnadeva did not succeed to a peaceful kingdom.

Troubles from within and attacks from without haunted the

Vijayanagara ruler. Some of the Polaigars were stilt at targe

contesting the overlordship of the best part of Mysore region

The Gajapatis of Orissa were stilt in possession of the eastern

districts of the empire and Prataparudra was openly hostile

and aggressive. In the north, though the Bahmani kingdom

virtually ceased to exist, still the Muslim pressure, especially

from Bijapur, continued unabated in its strength. The newiyrisen

power of the Portuguese was rapidly establishing control

over the routes and the maritime trade of the west coast and

seeking profitable contacts with the 'country powers'. But

Krishnadevaraya rose to the occasion and with the help of his

mentor and minister Saluv Timmarasa, handled the situation

with great tact and foresight.

At the outset of his reign, Krishnadeva had to fight with

the Muslim forces which declared a jihad on the infields of

Vijayanagara and invaded his territory. The Bahmani Sultan

was joined by all the chiefs and nobles who nominally acknowledged

his sovereignty. Krishna was equal to the task. His

forces checked the progress of the Muslims on the frontier,

defeated them at Dony and inflicted another crushing defeat

on the retreating army at Kovilkonda. Yusuf Adil Shah of

Bijapur lost his life with the result Bijapur was thrown into

confusion and disorder.

Taking advantage of the anarchic conditions prevailing in

Bijapur, Krishna invaded the doab and captured Raichur. He

then advanced on Gulbarga and captured the fort. He pursued

Barid, the minister and jailor of the Sultan, defeated him and

captured the fort of Bidar. He restored the Sultan Mahmud

Shah to power and to commemorate this act of resuscitation

of the Bahmani monarchy, assumed the title of 'Yavanarajyastapanacharya'.

This restoration he did to weaken his Muslim

neighbours by throwing an apple of discord in their midst since

he knew that so long as the shadow of the Bahmani monarchy

persisted, there would be no peace among the Muslim rulers

of the Deccan.

Krishna then set out on an expedition against the rebels.

He marched against the Kadava chieftains of the Kanchi region.

After reducing them, he advanced against Gangaraja of Ummattur

who had been in revolt since the last years of Vira NaraThe

simha's reign. He first attacked Penukonda which had passed

into the hands of the rebel. The capture of this fort was followed

by Ummattur and Sivasamudram. When Gangaraja fled and

was drowned in the Kaveri, Krishna made the conquered territory

into a province with Srirangapatna as its capital and

appointed Saluva Govindaraja as Governor with three local

chieftains to assist him.

The eastern campaign of Krishnadevaraya against the

Gajapati power of Orissa was a seven years' affair (1512-19

A.D.). Krishna's aim was to recover the two provinces of

Vijayanagara, namely, Udayagiri and Kondavidu, which his

predecessors failed to recover from Orissa. It is curious to

note that while the Vijayanagara sources describe the defeats

and losses suffered by Prataparudra Gajapati at the hands of

Krishna, almost all the sources from Orissa are silent about

this. Krishna's Kalinga expedition falls into five definite stages.

a) The expedition began with an attack on the impregnable

fort of Udayagiri in the month of January 1513 A.D. According

to Nuniz, Krishna laid siege to this fort 'for a year and a

half. The fort was under the command of Tirumala Rautaraya,

a paternal uncle of the Gajapati king. Stubburn resistance was

offered to the assaults of the Raya's forces. The Raya's

generals, even after great exertion, failed to achieve anything

Then Krishna took up the lead in person. He widened the

narrow path and erected a wall of circumvallation around it

He defeated Prataparudra who came to defend the fort and

pursued his army as far as Kondavidu. He captured the Udayagiri

fortress finally on 9th June, 1514 A.D. Rautaraya was

taken captive. The event was celebrated on a grand scale

and Krishnadevaraya visited Tirumala and paid homage to

Lord Venkatesvara visited Trrumala and paid homage to Lord

Lord Venkatesvara. After the fall of Udayagiri, he reduced

Kandukuru also and appointed Rayasam Kondamarusayya as his

regent at Udayagiri. At the capital he built a new shrine and

installed the Balakrishna image brought from Udayagiri.

b) With the object of reducing the Kondavidu fortress, the

headquarters of the southern viceroyalty under the Gajapatis.

Krishnadevaraya once again marched against the king of Orissa.

On the way to Kondavidu, he reduced some of the forts including

Addanki, Vinukonda, Bellamkonda, Nagarjunakonda, Tangeda

and Ketavaram sometime between February and June 1515 A,D.

Simultaneously, Kondavidu was laid siege, The Gajapati ruler

was obliged to divide his forces and send them to defend the

different forts and with the remaining forces when he attacked

the Raya in open battle, he was defeated.

Krishna then blockaded the Kondavidu fort which was

defended by a powerful garrison under prince Virabhadra, son

of Prataparudra Gajapati. According to an inscription at Ahobalam,

"he surrounded the fort with his army, having erected

movable wooden platforms (nadachapparams) to enable his

soldiers to stand on a level with the defenders and demolish

the walls; he scaled them on all sides and captured the fort".

Prince Virabhadra was taken prisoner along with many others.

The fort fell on 23rd June, 1515 A.D. Krishna entrusted its

administration to Saluva Timmarasa. He then conquered the

coastal region upto the river Krishna. He offered worship at


c) The third satge in Krishna's Kalinga campaign began with

the siege of Bezwada. After capturing it, the Raya made it an

advance base for further operations. Then he proceeded to

Kondapalli, a strong and well-defended fort with very nigh

walls, situated a few miles away to the north-east of Bezwada.

He besieged the fort and the army sent to relieve it by Prataparudra

was thoroughly defeated. After a siege of two months,

Kondapalli was taken and the Gajapati commander Praharesvara

Patra and other chieftains were made prisoners and sent to

the imperial capital. According to Nuniz, a wife of the King of

Oriya was also included among the prisoners.

d) "Till he conquered Kondavidu, Krishnaraya was bent upon

driving the Gajapati from the region to the south of the Krishna.

Subsequent to the fall of this fort, there appears a change in

the policy adopted by the Vijayanagara monarch towards the

Gajapati. It was not the greed for territory that was behind

Krishnadevaraya's campaigns in the distant regions of Potnuru

Simhadri and further north but his determination to weaken

the Gajapati so that there might not be any more danger to

Vijayanagara Kingdom from that quarter".

With this objective Krishnadevaraya crossed the Krishna

and after capturing Bezwada and Kondapalli proceeded to conquer

Telangana and Vengi both of which formed part of the

Gajapati kingdom. He took in a 'single assault' Anantagiri,

Undrakonda, Urlagonda, Aruvapalli, Jallipalli, Kandikonda, Kappalavayi,

Nalagonda. Kambhammettu, Kanakagiri, Sankaragin

and other fortresses. He reduced Rajahmundry and finally

arrived at Potnuru Simhadri. With the help of his minister

Timmarasa, who by adopting 'bheda' brought about a split

between the Gajapati king and his subordinate Patras and

made the enemy flee from the field, Krishna won victory. He

set up a pillar of victory and made rich presents in company

of his wives to God Simhadrinatha on 29th March, 1516 A.D.

Then he returned to Vijayanagar leaving his army behind.

While at Vijayanagara, the Raya who had love for martial

exercises including duel-fencings, arranged for the swordfencing.

According to Nuniz prince Virabhadra Gajapati, who

was taken captive at Kondavidu, was invited to fence since he

was famous as a dexterous swordsman. But Virabhadra, with

the misunderstanding that his opponent was not of royal blood

but a man of humble birth, felt offended and put an end to


e) The Gajapati ruler, burning with rage and sorrow for the

death of his son at the Vijayanagara court, continued hostilities

with Vijayanagara. Since he did not come to terms with

Krishna, the latter resolved on the Cuttack expedition. The

inscriptions and the contemporary Telugu literary works like

'Manucharitra' and 'Amuktamatyada' refer to the invasion of

the Raya and the devastation of the country of the Matsya

chiefs of Oddadi and the burning of the capital town Kataka

(Cuttack) thus sufficiently humiliating the Gajapati to sue for

peace. "Successive disasters in all battles against the Raya, the

death of his son, the captivity of his wife and the burning of

his capital, all these must have compelled Prataparudra to sue

for peace and save the country from further devastation".

Since Krishnadevaraya's object was to secure permanent peace

in the eastern frontier, in the peace treaty that was concluded

in August, 1519 A.D., he gave back all the territories to the

north of Krishna to the Gajapati ruler. The latter gave his

daughter Bhadra (or Tukka) in marriage to the former. Thus

ended one of the most brilliant episodes in the military history

of India, in the 16th century.'

After subduing Orissa, Krishnadevaraya had to fight with

the Sultans of Golkonda and Bijapur. Quli Qutb Shah of

Golkonda was ambitious and wanted to make himself the

master of the Telugu country. Taking advantage of the defeat

and discomfiture of the Gajapati king, he occupied the Telangana

districts and the coastal areas between the mouths of the

Krishna and the Godavari. Then he crossed the Krishna and

beseized Kondavidu. Strong contingents of Vijayanagara under

Timmarasa marched against the enemy and successfully repulsed

the Golkonda forces. While Krishnadevaraya was busy with his Orissa war,

Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur recaptured Raichur. The Raya,

therefore, made a campaign in 1520 A.D. for the recovery of

Raichur. Nuniz gives an elaborate account of this war With

a large army the Raya marched into the Doab. The decisive

battle was fought on 19th May, 1520 A.D. and Ismail's camp

was seized and he himself barely escaped with his life. The

fort of Raichur was taken. Afterwards the Raya conducted a

raid into Bijapur and his troops occupied the city for sometime.

Then he marched on to Gulbarga and razed its fortress to the

ground. Here he liberated the sons of Mahmud Shah Bahmani

and made the eldest of them the Sultan. But this attempt

of the Raya to revive the Bahmani Sultanate only served to

irritate the five Deccan Sultans

Thus with all these series of victories, Krishnadevaraya

humbled the pride of his foes and extended the limits of his


empire. The Vijayanagara empire under him was in shape a

triangle with its appex at Cape Comorin comprising the whole

territory south of the river Krishna, Travancore and Malabar

besides other regions being subordinate states.

As regards Krishnadevaraya's relations with the Portuguese,

he tried to maintain friendly relations with them. But he never

lent support to their political designs. By the time Krishna

ascended the throne, they already established their supremacy

over the Indian Ocean. With their command of the sea, the

monopoly of the west-coast trade, especially in horses, passed

into their hands from the Arab merchants and Muslim traders

They used the supply of horses as a powerful weapon in their

diplomatic dealings with the native powers. The Raya was

also anxious to secure horses. Albuquerque, the Portuguese

governor, in 1510 A.D. offered help to Krishnadevaraya at the

start of his war with the Muslims and requested, in return,

the Raya's help against his enemy, the Zamorin of Calicut. He

further promised to supply the Arab and Persian horses to

Vijayanagara only, and not send them to Bijapur. The Raya

agreed to the Portuguese request only when it was made at

a second time and only after the Portuguese captured Goa

from Bijapur at the end of 1510 A.D. The Raya also agreed

to the Portuguese request to erect a fort at Bhatkal. In his

capture of Raichur in 1520 A.D. from the Bijapur Sultan, the

Raya received valuable assistance from the Portuguese musketeers.

In the engineering field also, he sought the services

of the Portuguese. It was during the reign of Krishnadevaraya,

there was large inflow of the Portuguese travellers,

merchants and adventurers, flocking to the city of Vijayanagara.

Nuniz says that Krishna made his six-year old son Tirumaiaraya

as the king (Yuvaraja) in 1524 A.D. At the end of the

coronation festivities, the son took ill and died under suspicious

conditions. Saluva Timmarasa and his sons were suspected

of poisoning the prince and were thrown into prison. Three

years later, a son of Timmarasa escaped from the prison and

raised the standard of revolt. He was captured with great

difficulty and the eyes of the rebel, his brother and their father

Timmarasa were put out. The Raya, then, nominated his halfbrother

Achyutaraya to be his successor.

In the meantime, in 1526 A.D. when Nagama Nayaka, a

trusted lieutenent of the Raya, who went to south to put down

the aggression of a vassal, occupied Madurai and became insubordinate

to the Raya, However, he was brought to his

senses by his own son Visvanatha Nayaka. Thereby Visvanatha

was appointed viceroy of the south.

During the last days of Krishnadevaraya, Ismail Adil Shah

of Bijapur again made a futile attempt to recover Raichur. The

Raya wanted to teach him a lesson. But while he was preparing

for an attack on Belgaum, he fell seriously ill and died in 1529 A.D.

'Pre-eminent as a warrior, Krishnadevaraya was equally

great as statesman.' His uniform success against all his

enemies was largely due to his capacity for his organisation

and skilful generalship. 'He showed amazing resourcefulness

in overcoming obstacles besetting his path.' His equanimity

of mind and extra-ordinary courage even in the face gravest

danger is praiseworthy. N. Venkataramanayya writes, "But

even more than his personal bravery, or his skilled management

of troops, what enabled him to overthrow hostile forces

was his devotion and attachment of his soldiers to his person.

Krishnadevaraya was accustomed, after the conclusion of

every battle, to go to the battlefield, looking for the wounded;

he would pick them up and make arrangements for their medical

help and other conveniences needed for their recovery-

Those that specially distinguished themselves in the fight were

placed directly under his supervision so that he might bestow

particular attention on them and help them regain their health

as quickly as possible. The care with which Krishnadevaraya

nourished the wounded soldiers and warriors did not go unrewarded.

It won him the affection of the rank and file of the

army. The soldiers as well as officers were prepared to throw

themselves into the jaws of death in executing his commands."

The Raya, as a practical politician and administrator,

brought in changes in Vijayanagara polity. His ideas are

contained in his own composition 'Amuktamalyada' in Telugu.

The work contains every aspect of royal duties, the mode of

appointing ministers, controlling the frontier tribes, conducting

an assembly, treatment of the vanquished ruler, administration

of justice and foreign policy. The Raya paid greater attention

to the civil administration of his empire. He checked

the mal-administration of the provincial governors and the inefficiency

and negligence of the other officials as well. He

redressed the grievances of ryots and punished the evil-doers.

He used to conduct tours of inspection in various parts of

his empire. He improved the facilities of communication.

Krishnadevaraya 'could set himself to investigate the rates

and taxes which proved oppressive, and abolished some of

them which were regarded as such'. He took keen interest

in constructing irrigation tanks and in digging canals to provide

water for agricultural operations. With the help of a Portuguese

engineer, he constructed in 1522 A.D. the great dam and channel

at Korragal and the Basavanna channel, both of which are still

in use. He dammed up the lake at the capital and used it for

the supply of water to the new township 'Nagalapura'.

With regard to his religious policy, though he was a staunch

Vaishnavite, he was devoted to Siva and patronised the Saivites,

Madhvas and Jains. Among the 'Diggajas' whom he patronised

in his court, three were Saivites and Peddana was an Advaitin.

Virupaksha was still regarded as the god of the city and the

empire. The Vittobha cult of the southern Maratha country

also gained some prominence in Vijayanagara, According to

Peddana, the Raya's favourite deity was Lord Venkatesvara of

Tirupati. He seems to have visited Tirupati as many as seven

times and endowed the shrine richly. His grand religious trip

to the shrines of the south, remittance of taxes, construction

of many Rayagopurams and thousand pillared halls at different

places highly speak of his religious devotion and patronage of

art. The Raya was a munificent patron of arts and letters. As

a great patron of men of letters, he was known as the 'Andhra-

Bhoja'. His extension of patronage to the writers in all languages—

Sanskrit as well as the South Indian vernaculars—was

well known. He was himself a scholar both in Sanskrit and

Telugu. 'Jambavati Kalyanam' and 'Ushaparinayam', the two

Sanskrit dramas are the only extant works of the emperor in

Sanskrit. Laksnmidhara, Lakshminarayana and Nadendla Gopa

produced their works in Sanskrit. Vyasaraya, the preceptor

of the king, wrote his works on dvaita philosophy and logic

in Sanskrit. The Kannada poet Timmana completed the Kannada

Mahabharata of Kumara Vyasa. The Tamil poets Haridasa,

Kumara Saraswati and Jnanaprasa also flourished during this


The Raya had his contribution much to the development

of Telugu literature. His own work 'Amuktamalyada' easily

ranks with the greatest of the Telugu Prabandhas. His court

'Bhuvanavijayam' was adorned with the eminent Telugu poets

called 'the Ashtadiggajas' (the elephants supporting the eight

cardinal points of the Telugu literary world). Allasani Peddana

was the poet-laureate. Apart from Peddana, Dhurjati, Mallana.

Surana, Timmana and others produced their outstanding works

in the Vijayanagara court.

Krishnadevara's constructions of new townships (Nagalapura

etc.), shrines (Krishnaswami, Hazararama and Vitthala

temples at Hampi), Rayagopurams and thousand pillared halls,

enormous statues of Ganapathi and Ugra-Narasimha and the

various structures in the Palace-complex stand as a testimony

to his keen interest in art, architecture, music, dance and other

cultural pursuits.

ACHYUTARAYA (1529-42 A.D.)

Inspite of nomination of Achyutadevaraya to the throne

by Krishnadevaraya, after the latter's death, the nomination

was challenged by Ramaraya, who sponsored the claim of his

infant brother-in-law, ostensibly with the idea of seizing power

in the name of the infant. But Achyuta's brothers-in-law, the

Salakaraju brothers helped by Satuva Vira Narasimha foiled his

designs and kept the throne vacant till Achyuta could come

up from Chandragiri after his relase. Finally Achyuta made

up his dispute with Ramaraya by giving him a share in the

government and ascended the throne.

Prataparudra Gajapati and Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur

renewed their attacks on Vijayanagara in the hope of recovering

what they had lost during the previous reign at Vijayanagara.

This happened early in the reign of Achyutaraya. The Gajapati

ruler was defeated and driven back. But Ismail invaded and

conquered the Raichur doab. Achyuta had to leave the Adil

Shah alone for the time being as he was confronted with the

formidable rebellion led by his minister, Sellappa alias Saluva

Vira Narasimha Nayaka, who had the support of the chieftains

of Ummattur and Tiruvadirajya (Travancore).

Achyutaraya marched against the rebels, resolved to stay

at Srirangam and entrusted the campaign to his brother-in-law

Salakaraju China Tirumala. The Vijayanagara forces had a

victorious march upto the banks of the Tambraparani river.

There they set up a pillar of victory. The Pandhyan ruler of

Tenkasi was restored to his kingdom. The Travancore ruler

was forced to pay tribute and Sellappa was pardoned. By

1532 A.D. the entire south was brought back to allegiance.

In 1534 A.D. the dispute between Mallu and Ibrahim for

the throne of Bijapur following the death of their father Ismail

Adil Shah, encouraged Achyuta to make an attempt for the

recovery of the Raichur doab. According to 'Achyutarayabhyudayam'

and the accounts of Barros and Nuniz, Achyuta

reestablished his hold over Raichur and Mudgal. An inscription

dated 1534-1535 A.D. also confirms this.

During the later half of his reign, Achyuta was domineered

over by his brothers-in-law. Ramaraya led the opposition to

the de facto rule of the tyrannical Salakaraju brothers. He and

his brothers advanced the claims of Sadasiva (who was the

son of Achyuta's brother Ranga) as the infant son of Krishnadevaraya

died about 1533 A.D. Taking advantage of this confused

political condition at Vijayanagara, Ibrahim I of Bijapur

marched upon Vijayanagara end razed Nagalpura, a suburb of the

city, to the ground. On the advice of his brotrrers-in-law,

Achyuta refrained from offering resistance to the invader. Ibrahim

got Raichur and large sums of money.

Ramaraya's opposition to the de facto regime of the

Salakaraju brothers did not produce any immediate result. The

moral tone of the administration deteriorated further. An atmosphere

of selfishness and brutality prevailed. The imperial hold

over the southern provinces became lax and Madura, Tanjore

and other places began to dominate politics in the south. About

the same period the Portuguese established themselves

on the coast in and around Tuticorin. It was feared

that the empire would crumble at any moment. Achyuta died

in 1542 A.D. amidst those precarious conditions.

Achyuta was an ardent Vaishnavite and made donations

very generously to the temples and Brahmins. He was also

a liberal patron of art and letters. His court poet Rajanatha

Dindima wrote 'Achyutarayabhyudayam' in Sanskrit, Achyuta's

queen, Tirumalamba wrote 'Varadubika-parinaya' on the king's

marriage with queen Varadamba. The famous Purandhara Dasa

visited Vijayanagara in the reign of Achyuta. The famous

Lepakshi temple, containing some specimens of late Vijayanagara

paintings, was a construction of this period.

It was during the reign of Achyutaraya that Fernao Nuniz,

a Portuguese horse trader and chronicler, visited Vijayanagara.

He stayed in the city during 1534-37 A.D. He was the first

among the travellers to evince keen interest in the

early history of Vijayanagara and he recorded the history on

the basis of the traditions current at that time. Of the 23

chapters of his chronicle, the last five chapters deal with the

contemporary social condition of Vijayanagara and the rule of

Achyutaraya. Nuniz gives a low estimate of Achyutaraya. He says,

"After ascending the throne, he gave himself over to vice and

tyranny". "He is a man of very little honesty...." "....he has

never done anything that is not desired by his two brothers-inlaw".

Nuniz also describes Achyuta's tyrannical activities and

he concludes his account by declaring that Achyutaraya was

very negligent of the things which most concerned the welfare

of his kingdom and state. As K.A.N. Sastri observes this harsh

judgement on Achyuta by the traveller might be due to the

Raya's blunder in relaxing his personal hold on the administration

which fell under the control of his two brothers-in-law.


Achyutaraya was succeeded by his infant son Venkata I.

The infant Raya's maternal uncle, the younger Salakaraju became

regent in spite of the opposition of Ramaraya and his

brothers. The queen-mother, Varadambika suspected her

brother's intentions and to free her son from the clutches of

her unscrupulous brother, she sought the help of the Sultan

of Bijapur. But the regent bribed the Sultan when he was

marching to Vijayanagara, As a counter move, Ramaraya freed

Sadasiva, the nephew of Achyuta, from the Gutti prison, proclaimed

him emperor and sought the Bijapur Sultan's help

against Salakaraju Tirumala. At this juncture, Tirumala assassinated

Venkata I and other members of the royal family and

declared himself ruler. From then onwards Salakaraju Tirumala's

tyranny became unbearable. He indulged in the most atrocious

cruelties. He invited Ibrahim Ad/I Shah I of Bijapur to his

rescue against the machinations of Ramaraya. He even seated

the Sultan on the throne of Vijayanagara.

The patriots could not bear this humiliation and many of

them now rallied round Ramaraya to retrieve the honour of

their land. They played a trick on Salakaraju Tirumala, promising

submission and loyalty for ever provided the Sultan was

sent away. The plighted word was believed by Tirumala and

he sent away the Sultan after paying him huge compensation.

Soon after the Sultan's departure from Vijayanagara, Ramaraya

and his supporters marched on Vijayanagara, defeated and

caught the usurper and beheaded him on the spot. Ramaraya,

with the consent of all parties, raised Sedasiva to the throne

of Vijayanagara and himself became the Regent in 1543 A.D.

Ramaraya was the great-grandson of Araviti Bukka, an

officer of Saluva Narasimha. Since these people originally

hailed from Aravidu in the Kurnool district, the family came

to be known as the Aravidu family. Ramaraya's two surviving

brothers were Tirumala and Venkatadri. According to an

anonymous chronicler of Golkonda. it was in the kingdom of

Golkonda in the service of Quil Qutb Shah, Ramaraya rose to

importance for sometime. The Sultan rewarded him suitably

for conquering some of the outlying provinces of the Vijayanagara

empire. He gave him Jagir of Mast-Sonti and placed

him in charge of the conquered areas. Three years later, when

Ramaraya was defeated in one of the Bijapur-Golkonda wars,

he was dismissed from service. During this short period of

service at Golkonda, he gained first hand knowledge about

the politics of Golkonda and acquired many Muslim and Hindu


Later, Ramaraya entered the service of Krishnadevaraya.

pleased him by his talents and married his daughter. His

brother Tirumalaraya married another daughter of Krishnadevaraya.

The Portuguese writer Couto says that Ramaraya was

a great general in Krishnadeva's army and was the governor

in Badaghas and Teligas. According to 'Ramarajiyamu', he

had also been 'Kalyanapuravaradhisvara' (Kalyandurg in Anantapur

district). After Sadasiva's enthronement, he became "the

Agent for Affairs". His brothers Tirumala and Venkatadri

became minister and general respectively.

Inscriptions of the period show that Sadasiva was recognised

by everyone as the real sovereign, but was only

nominally. The whole power was in the hands of Ramaraya

and his brothers. Being the son-in-law of the great king

Krishnadevaraya, he was popular as 'Aliya' (son-in-law) Ramaraya.

He was also called 'Kodanda Rama'. One notices three


definite stages in his ascendency. In the first stage from 1543

A.D. to 1549-50 A.D., he was nothing but the Regent on

behalf of the king. He showed respect to the king, who mostly

resided at the capital, and carried on administration as 'the

Agent for Affairs' of Sadasiva's empire. In the second stage,

in 1550 A.D. he imprisoned Sadasiva in a strongly fortified

tower with iron doors surrounded by sentries; but treated him

as King, showing to the public only once a year. During this

stage, which lasted almost upto 1563 A.D. inscriptions put the

power of Ramaraya on equality with that of Sadasiva. It was

during this period, Ramaraya strengthened his position by elevating

his relatives to high offices. In the third stage, from

sometime in 1563 A.D. he stopped the annual ceremony of

exhibiting the emperor to his subjects. He assumed imperial

titles and issued pagodas (gold coins) in his name. But there

is no evidence of his coronation as emperor. Cauto writes

that the Aravidu brothers used to go once a year to Sadasiva's

prison like palace in order to do homage to him as their


Ramaraya's enemies in the land to the south of Chandragiri

could not bear his ascendency and made attempts to defy his

authority. Ramaraya had to send expeditions to Travancore

and the Fishery Coast in the south between the years 1543 A.D.

and 1558 A.D. to subdue the defiant and aggressive activities

of those rebels. He put down all the centrifugal forces with

a stern hand and his cousin, Vitthala restored the central authority

over Travancore and the Fishery coast. Visvanatha Nayaka

and his son Krishnappa I of Madura tent support to Vitthala

in his endevour.

"With the Portuguese Ramaraya's relations were by no

means always friendly." After the advent of Martin Alfonso

de Sousa as Governor of Goa in 1542 A.D., the Portuguese

attitude towards Vijayanagara changed to the worse. He attacked

and plundered the port of Bhatkal. He organised a

plundering raid on Kanchi. In 1544 A.D., Martin made a plan

to rob the temple of Tirupati. It was not executed due to the

vigilance of the imperial authority. But in 1547 A.D,. the

friendship between The Portuguese and the Vijayanagara was

renewed by a treaty, especially when Castro succeeded Martin

as governor. By this treaty, Vijayanagara secured the monopoly

of the horse trade with the Portuguese. But in 1558 A.D.,

the Regent marched to the Portuguese settlement at St. Thome

(Mylapore) to plunder it as he got complaints of the destruction

of several temples on the coast down to Nagapattinam

by the Christian Portuguese missionaries. This expedition did

not effect the relations of Vijayanagara with the Portuguese

Viceroy. But it is not clear that what steps were taken by

Vijayanagara to afford protection to its vassals end subjects

from their forcible conversions into Christianity carried on by

the Portuguese missionaries.


(Relations with the Deccan Sultans) AND


Ramaraya was an ambitious master politician, well versed

in power politics. It appears that he subscribed to the view

that 'the end justifies means'. This was the principle that

governed his foreign policy. His clever, cunning and diplomatic

foreign policy was aimed at making Vijayanagara supreme,

safeguarding the interests of the empire at any cost and placing

himself at the helm of affairs. Ramaraya was determined to restore

the power of the Vijayanagara empire to what it was

during the days of Krishnadevaraya. This led him to interfere

in the inter-state politics of the neighbouring Deccan Sultanates.

Mutual jealousy, rivalry and old family feuds that appeared

among the Deccan Sultans were exploited by Ramaraya to the

advantage of Vijayanagara, The Deccan States "among themselves

cherished the ambitions of their own,—and these showed

themselves in various degrees of activity according to the

circumstances of the moment. They often fought with each

other for aggrandisement and sought the assistance of the

neighbouring Hindu ruler". Ramaraya availed himself of this

advantage and supported one party or the other according

to the exigencies of the time. He was not desirous of territorial

expansion in the northern or the eastern direction of his

empire. His objective was to maintain balance of power in

Deccan. This was evident from the fact that he was every day

to go to the help of the victim of aggression. He firmly believed

that the safety and security of Vijayanagar lay in the rivalries

of the Deccan Sultanates. This was nothing but a shrewd

diplomacy of the modern type. As a part of this, he always

tried to keep his opponents divided so as to weaken their

power. This policy of 'divide and rule' and himself diplomatically

assuming the role of an arbitrator paid rich dividends. His

insight into the Muslim politics while in service under the

Sultan of Golkonda came to his help. For twenty-three years,

he successively made war against the Deccan Sultans and in

all but the test, he was victorious.

In 1543 A.D., Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar, in alliance

with Ramaraya and Qutb Shah of Golkonda, attacked Bijapur.

Ramaraya's brother Venkatadri proceeded to reduce the Raichur

doab. Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur was able to detach Vijayanagara

and Ahmadnagar from the alliance through his general

Asad Khan's well-tried elderly statesmanship. Then Asad

marched on Golkonda, defeated the Qutb Shah and wounded him.

In the following year, at the instigation of Ramaraya, Burhan

again attacked Bijapur, but was completely defeated. Four

years later, Burhan, with the assistance of Ramaraya, captured

the fort Kalyani from Bidar and the fort remained in Burhan's

possession till his death in 1553 A.D.

In 1549 A.D., when an alliance was formed between the

Sultans of Bijapur and Bidar, Burhan sought the alliance of

Ramaraya. In the war that ensued, the Vijayanagara forces

captured the Raichur doab once again.

In 1557 A.D., Hussain Nizam Shah, the son and successor

of Burhan of Ahmadnagar, in alliance with Ibrahim Qutb Shah

of Golkonda, attacked Bijapur and laid siege to Gulbarga.

Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur sought the help of Vijayanagara.

Ramaraya marched in person at the head of a big army. But

he felt anxious to avoid bloodshed. He brought about a meeting

of all the parties and this resulted in the treaty of 'collective

Security' by which if any one of the contending parties became

a victim of an unjust attack, the others were to join him

against the aggressor. Thus Ramaraya played the part of an

'honest broker.'

When Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur died, his young son

All Adil Shah renewed his father's alliance with Ramaraya by

entering into a new treaty. In 1560 A.D., when Hussain Nizam

Shah of Ahmadnagar broke the four kings' peace of 1557 A.Dand

attacked Bijapur, Ramaraya took an active part in the league

organised by Ali Adil Shah I against Ahmadnagar The allied

army captured Kalyani and later on defeated the Nizam Shah

in the battle of Jamkhed. Finally Hussain concluded peace

by ceding Kalyani to Ali Adil Shah. According to Ferishta, in

this invasion, the Hindu soldiers committed horrible attrocities

in Ahmadnagar. The country was laid waste. The honour of

Muslim women was insulted. Mosques were destroyed and

even the sacred Koran was not respected. The victorious army

invaded and devastated Bidar as well.

Immediately after the allies left, Hussain allied himself

with Ibrahim Qutb Shah of Golkonda and laid siege to Kalyani.

But Ramaraya and Ali Adil Shah forced him to retreat from

Kalyani. While the Bijapur army chased the Golkonda troops,

Ramaraya pursued the Nizam Shah. Ahmadnagar was besieged

a second time, but owing to floods in the adjacent river, could

not succeed. In this second invasion of Admadnagar, Fensta

states, "The Hindus of Vijayanagar committed the most outrageous

devastations, burning and razing the buildings, putting

up their horses in mosques and performing their idolatrous

worship in holy places". Ibrahim Qutb Shah of Golkonda, who

was beaten back from Kalyani, attacked Kondavidu to divert

Ramaraya's attention from Golkonda, but with no success. He

surrendered Kovilkonda, Ganpura and Panugal forts in 1563 A.O.

Ferishta observes, "Ramaraya also, at the conclusion of

this expedition, looking on the Islam Sultans as of little consequence,

refused proper honours to their ambassadors. Then

he did not offer them seates and treated them with most contemptuous

reserve and hautiness. He made in public in his

train on foot not allowing them to mount till he gave orders.

On return from the test expedition the officers and soldiers of

his army in general treated the Muslims with insolance, scoffing

and contemptuous language."

Endorsing these observations of Ferishta, most of the

scholars opine that the series of the military and diplomatic

victories of Ramaraya over the Deccan Sultans made him arrogant

and that it was his insolent behaviour that brought the

Deccan Sultans together against Vijayanagara. They hold

Ramaraya solely responsible for the battle of Rakkasa-Tangadi

(1565 A.D.). He is considered the villain of the tragic drama.

Robert Sewell goes a step forward and observes that the

character of Krishnadevaraya after his victory in the battle of

Raichur (1520 A.D.) led to the confederacy of the Muslim

Sultans to crush the Vijayanagara empire. After the Sultan

of Bijapur was worsted in that battle and sued for peace, the

Raya demanded that the Sultan should visit him and kiss his

foot. This hardened the attitude of the Sultans towards Vijayanagara.

Sewell writes, "The Hindu victory so weakened the

power and prestige of Adil Shah that he ceased altogether to

dream of any present conquest in the south, and turn his

attention to cementing alliances with the Muhammadan sovereigns,

his neighbours. The victory also caused all the other

Muhammadan powers in the Deccan seriously to consider the

political condition of the country; and this eventually Jed to a

combination without which nothing was possible, but by the

aid of which the Vijayanagara Empire was finally overthrown

and the way to the south opened. It further more greatly

effected the Hindus by raising in them a spirit of pride and

arrogance, which added fuel to the fire, caused them to become

positively intolerable to their neighbours, and accelerated their

own downfall."

However this charge cannot be taken as serious because

it was the confirmed policy of the Bahmani Sultans to humiliate

the Vijayanagara rulers by waging constant wars and taking

them as Jihads. Wether it was Krishnadevaraya or Ramaraya,

they had done only that which the Bahmani Sultans and their

successors had followed. The victor becoming somewhat

haughty and arrogant towards the vanquished, and the victorious

army, whether it was Hindu or Muslim, ransacking and plundering

and devastating the enemy's country and committing

excesses were nothing but common during those days.

However, the point that Ramaraya insulted Islam cannot

be accepted. It was the legacy and heritage of the Vijayanagara's

past from the days of the Sangamas which Ramaraya

inherited and followed. Large number of Muslims were recruited

into the Vijayanagara army. They were given complete religious

freedom. Ramaraya built a mosque for them, treated them

generously and even assigned a special quarter of the city,

Turkavada, for them. As a matter of fact, both Ramaraya and

his wife treated Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur as their adopted son

Hence there is no substance in the argument that he showed

disrespect to Islam.

Then what were the factors that prompted the formation

of the confederacy by the Deccan Sultans against Vijayanagara?

The existence of the Vijayanagara kingdom was found to be

irksome from the beginning to the Muslims. As long as there

was one Bahmani kingdom, the power of Vijayanagara was

contained within certain limits and there was no fear of its

expansion at the cost of the Muslims. But when the kingdom

itself broke into five independent Sultanates, the Muslim power

weakened much, thus making united resistance to Vijayanagara

a difficult task. It was this element that was exploited by

Krishnadevaraya and for the first time be humbled the pride

of the Muslims. Ramaraya went a step ahead. He established

his mastery over them and even made them prostrate before

him. in the course of the inter-state struggle, the Deccan

Sultanates grew weaker and weaker and their counterpart

Vijayanagara grew stronger. By the close of 1564 A.D. The

Deccan Sultans realised that they were fighting among themselves

to the advantage of Vijayanagara. They formed a strong


As the authors of the 'Further sources of Vijayanagara

History' observes, "the real cause (for the formation of the

confederacy) was the fear engenendered in the mind of the

Deccan Sultans by the rapid growth of Ramaraya's power.

Taking advantage of the frequent quarrels which engrossed

their attention, he not only recovered the territory which they

had seized during his struggle with Achyuta and Tirumala

(Salakaraju), but succeeded in establishing his hegemony over

them. Ramaraya's supremacy was most galling to the Muslim

rulers. His great power coupled with their individual helplessness

against him had driven them to resort to combined action.

This was the real cause for the confederacy which brought

about Ramaraya's downfall".

In the strong league that was organised for the overthrow

of Vijayanagara, Berar was not a partner. According to

Basatin-us-Salatin, it was because of her deep-rooted hatred

towards Ahmadnagar, Berar did not join the coalition. the

contemporary chroniclers say that Hussain Nizam Shah of

Ahmadnagar and Ibrahim Qutb Shah of Golkonda took the

leading part in the formation of the confederacy, because they

alone had suffered most. In order to cement their political

alliance, Ali Adil Shah married Chand Bibi, the daughter of

Hussain Nizam Shah, Hussain's eldest son married one of the

sisters of AM Adil Shah. There was probably a third marriage

alliance between Ahmadnagar and Golkonda. Sholapur which

was the bone of contention between Ahmadnagar and Bijapur

was ceded to Hussain by Ali. Complete war preparations

were made. An easy excuse for the war was found when

Ramaraya refused to return the Raichur doab. Consequently,

the confederate forces reached and encamped at Tallikota about

30 Kilometres north of the Krishna and after negotiations for

33 days the rival forces began the battle on the banks of the

river Krishna.

The controversial name of the battle itself calls for discussion.

It is a misnomer to call it 'the battle of Tallikota'.

Tallikota was the place where the Muslim forces numbering

50,000 cavalry, 3,00,000 infantry along with 6,000 Maratha

horsemen besides some elephants and a few hundreds of

canons encamped and where the allies were entertained by

All Adil Shah with great splendour. It is on account of this,

though the battle was not fought at that place, the name of

Tallikota assumed much importance. The Hindu accounts

unanimously refer to the battle as 'the battle of Rakshasi-

Tangadi' since it was on the plains between these two villages

to the south of the river Krishna, the battle was fought. But

this name also is a misnomer. The Vijayanagara forces, numbering

70,000 cavalry and 90,000 infantry besides elephants

and artillery (the actual number swelled into lakhs with the

reinforcements coming from the south at the time of actual

batting), encamped near these two villages. The actual battle

was fought on the open grounds of Bannihatti village on the

sangam of Maski and Hukeri on the southern bank of the

river Krishna. Hence it would be appropriate if the battle is

called 'the battle of Krishna-Bannihatti.'

Even with regard to the duration of the war, the Muslim

accounts say that it was a very short affair, that the fierce

engagement took place on 23rd January, 1565 A.D. and that

the battle lasted for a few hours, Jess than four hours. Taking

into consideration the extent, resources, man-power and past

military record, it is inconievable to conclude that the fate of

Vijayanagara was decided in the four hours' engagement. How

could the Deccan Sultans, who severally and conjointly suffered

repeated reverses on previous occasions, overthrow the indomitable

Ramaraya in less than four hours fight? The Hindu

accounts seem to be right since they say that the war lasted

for more than six months and one battle with intense fury

was fought for twentyseven days continuously.

Anyway Ramaraya, even at a ripe old age (according to

Ferishta, he was seventy years old, and according to the

Portuguese writers Couto and Fairy Sousa, he was ninety-six

years old), along with his brothers faced the situation with

great confidence. In one of the engagements, they practically

defeated the confederates and compelled them to beat a

retreat. To dupe the Hindu army, the allies had a cunning

stratagem. They gave out the impression that they would like

to come to terms with Ramaraya and seemed to start negotiations.

In the meantime, they recouped their strength. More

important than this is that they opened secret communication

with the Muslim officers in the army of Ramaraya and a secret

understanding was arrived at with them.

In the end the allies made a treacherous night attack upon

the Vijayanagara camp. In spite of this and irrespective of

his age, Ramaraya directed the operations in person. But at

the crucial moment, the two Muslim commanders of the Vijayanagara

army, each in charge of a large contingent, deserted to

the enemy side. Neither Ferishia nor Ali Ibn Aziz referred to

this treason. However Ceaser Frederick, who visited Vijayanagara

shortly after the war, and later Perron also referred to

this fact of treason by the two Muslim generals of the Vijayanagara

army. Frederick says, "when the armies were joined,

the battle lasted but a while, not the space of four hours,

because the traitorous captains, in the thick of the battle,

turned their face against their king and made such a disorder

in his army that they were bewildered." The artillery of the

allies under Chalabi Rumikhan of Asia Minor also played havoc.

Ramaraya was captured in the midst of confusion and Hussain,

with great vengeance, put him to death instantaneously, in

that panic and confusion, the Vijayanagara army took to flight.

'So great was the confusion that there was no attempt to give

battle'. Venkatadri died. Tirumala who lost an eye in the

contest hastily withdrew to Vijayanagara and left it with the

king and others, carrying away as much treasure as possible

first for Penugonda and then to Tirupati. The camp of the

Vijayanagara army was plundered. As Ferishta observes, "The

plunder was so great that every private man with in the allied

army became rich in gold, jewels, effects, tents, arms, horses

and slaves, as the Sultans left every person in possession of

what he had acquired, only taking elephants for their own use."

The left-outs in the defenceless Vijayanagara city became

a prey to the robber and jungle tribes of the neighbourhood.

Then the victorious Muslims entered the city. The armies

of the Sultans stayed in Vijayanagara for about five months

footing and plundering everything that they came across. Sewell

writes, "They slaughtered the people without mercy, broke down

the temples and palaces; and wreaked such savage vengeance

on the abode of kings, that, with the exception of a few great

stone-built temples and walls nothing now remains...They demolished

the statues...Nothing seemed to escape them...with

fire and sword, with crowbars and axes, they carried on day

after day their work of destruction. Never perhaps in the

history of the world has such havoc bean wrought, and wrought,

so suddenly, on so splendid a city; teeming with a wealthy

and industrious population in the full of plentitude, of prosperity

one day, and on the next seized, pillaged, and reduced to

ruins, amidst scenes of savage massacre and horrors begging


Dr. N. Venkataramanayya remarks, "The battle of Rakshasi-

Tangadi was the Waterloo of the Vijayanagara history. Though

Vijayanagara empire flourished for nearly another century with

the fall of Ramaraya on the field of Rakshasi-Tangadr in 1565,

its glory began to wane and it ceased to be the dominant

power in the deccan and the Rayas never attempted once again

to recover their lost ground."

However these observations of the scholars, especially of

Sewell have been questioned by Fr. Heras and Sathianatttaiar.

According Fr. Heras, Sewell completely misdescribed the condition

of Vijayanagara as caused by the Muslims during their

stay there after the battle, completely basing on the Muslim

chronicles particularly that of the biased Ferishta. Ferishta's

saying that the chief buildings were razed to the ground in an

exaggeration, for the simple reason that the chief buildings

of the capital like the huge imposing basements both in the

royal enclosure and in the zenana, the partly destroyed gopurams

of the Vitthala, Krishna, Achyuta temples, the beautiful

well-kept tower of the Virupaksha temple and even the two

small shrines of Ganesa may be partly seen even now. "His

religious prejudice against the idols and the temples of the

unbelievers made him suppose things done in the imperial city

of which its invaders were never guilty.' it is true that almost

all the idols of worship were broken and several structures

of the city were destroyed by the invaders, partly while searching

for treasures and partly by order of Hussain Nizam Shah

who set on fire a number of houses. Besides, one should not

forget that more than four centuries have elapsed since those

memorable days and time is as sure a destroyer as man. It

was the desertion of the city by the Rayas that gradually

ruined the city.

Fr. Heras opines that the Deccan Sultans did not intend

to destroy Vijayanagara. This was evident from two aspects—

their about five months' long stay within the walls of Vijayanagara,

indicating their intention of retaining the city for themselves,

and secondly their construction of new structures there

like the queen's bath, elephants' stable, the lotus mahal etc.

with mortar, marvellously combining both Hindu and Muslim

styles. Yet six months after their triumphal arrival, the Sultans

left Vijayanagara. "They departed to their own kingdom,"

Frederick relates, "because they were not able to maintain

such a kingdom as that was so far distant from their own


Undoubtedly, the battle of Krishna-Bannihatti (1565 A.D.)

"did vital damage to the empire, but the empire was still intact

and could go on for another century almost with a comparatively

brilliant epoch of a generation before it got weakened

by the constant invasions from the north, and dismembered

by the dissatisfaction and rebellion of the viceroys within. This

is the sad tale of the end of Vijayanagara; the actual ending

of which is marked by the beginning of the Maratha power

in the south". The battle of Bannihatti was no doubt the

climacteric, but not the grand climacteric of the Vijayanagara

empire. It necessitated the desertion of the imperial capital

and resulted in the loss of the Raichur derail. Peace was

concluded- Tirumala returned to the capital after the Sultans'

departure and tried to repopulate it. His efforts could not

succeed. Hence he shifted to Penukonda and ruled as the

regent of Sadasiva. It is said that Sadasiva continued to live

in the deserted Vijayanagara where he died in 1576 A.D.

The battle of 1565 A.D. had its own direct or indirect

impact on the Deccan Sultanates. Since the danger from

Vijayanagara was minimised after the battle, the unity forged

among the Sultans disappeared and they weakened themselves

in their mutual wars and with the result ultimately fell an easy

prey to the Mughal aggression from the north-

It is also said that the ruin of the city of Vijayanagara and

the shrinkage in the power and prestige of the empire adversely

affected the Portuguese trade. Sewell observes, "Goa rose

and fell simultaneously with the rise and fall of the Tuluva

dynasty." Partly, it may be true. However the Portuguese

monopoly of the Indian Ocean remained unbroken till 1595,

fifteen years after the fatal union of Portugal and Spain. Subsequently,

Philip II of Spain neglected the Portuguese dominions

in India and involved Portugal in costly and disastrous European

wars. By 1602, the Dutch deprived Portugal of their hold over

Spice islands etc.

6. Vijayanagara after the Battle of Bannihatti (1665 A.D.)

(Araridu Dynasty)

The defeat of Vijayanagara in the battle of Bannihatti

(1565 A.D.) simply reduced the empire's military prestige.

economic prosperity and the extent of its territorial jurisdiction.

The empire itself did not perish. It continued to linger on for


nearly a century more with ever diminishing territories and

languishing revenues. Ramaraya's brother Tirumala carried

away much of the wealth to Penugonda before the entry of

the victorious Muslim army into the imperial capital.

After the departure of the Muslims from Vijayanagara,

Tirumala returned to the city along with the king Sadasiva.

His attempts repopulate the city and restore it to its former

glory did not yield any fruitful result. Keeping in view the

ambitions of the intriguing sons of Ramaraya and the constant

threat of further Muslim aggression, he moved back to Penugonda,

leaving behind the king, and began to govern the state

in the name of Sadasiva, who was a nominal sovereign till

1568-69. There upon he started his independent rule, crowning

himself at Penugonda.

In order to strengthen his hold on the southern portions,

Tirumalaraya divided the empire into three divisions on iinguistc

basis and appointed his sons as viceroys over them,

As a part of his attempts to revive the glorious traditions

of Vijayanagara, he maintained a splendid court at Penugonda

which was adorned by the Telugu poet Bhattumurti (Ramarajabhushana),

the author of 'Vasucharitra'.

The Vijayanagara empire began to shrink during the reign

of his son Sri Ranga I (1572-85). The Sultans of Bijapur and

Golkonda made further inroads into the Vijayanagara territory.

However in the reign of Sri Range's brother Venkatapati II

(1585-1614), the original boundaries of the empire and its

prosperity and grandeur, were restored. He was the most

powerful ruler of the Aravidu dynasty and his reign may be

considered the last flicker of the Vijayanagara empire. He compelled

the Sultan of Golkonda to recognise the Krishna as the

boundary between the two states. The Bijapur Sultan Ibrahim

Adil Shah's two invasions were repulsed. Venkatapati II waged

incessant struggle against the internal rebels of the empire

almost from the beginning of his rule. By force of arms, he

brought back to allegiance the Nayaks of Madura, Gingee and

Vellore. Probably to exercise a greater control over the vassals

of the south, he transferred his capital to Chandragiri by 1602

A.D. Later, for all practical purposes, Vellore became the


in the later part of his reign, Venkatapatiraya faced two

problems arising from the Mughal emperor Akbar's imperialism

and the advent of the Dutch traders in the eastern waters. He

was prepared to measure swords with the Mughals. When

the Mughals crossed the Vindhyas, there was considerable

diplomatic stir in the south. But with Akbar's death in 1605,

there was a sigh of relief. Venkatapatiraya displayed great

tact and firmness towards the European traders. He was

frendiiest with the Portuguese, exchanged embassies with them,

gave protection to the Jesuit mission in his empire and even

supported them against the Dutch. Yet when required, he

did not hesitate to put down the unruly behaviour of the

Portuguese at St. Thome. Later he supported the Dutch

against the Portuguese to establish settlements at Pulicat-

Venkatapati made sustained efforts to reorganise the

Government and increase its economic prosperity. He maintained

a brilliant court and rendered patronage to men of arts

and tetters. Eminent scholars and poets like Tatacharya, Matla

Ananta and Tarigoppula Mallana flourished in his court.

Venkatapati's death was a signal for the civil war. His

brother's son was to succeed to the throne. But his queen

Bayamma. with the support of her brother Jaggaraya of the

Gobburi family, put forward the claims of her putative son.

In the civil war that ensued, Sriranga's son supported by

Velugoti Yachama Nayaka, was successful in getting the throne.

But he was soon murdered and his successor Ramadeva could

not keep his vassals under check. Exploiting the situation,

the Bijapur Sultan made repeated inroads, and subsequently

collected tributes from the chieftains of Keladi and Bangalore

The last ruler of the Aravidu family. Sriranga III lost even the

capital Vellore and thus was reduced to the position of

emperor without empire' He was forced to retire to Balur.

With his death in or about 1678. the end of the empire came.

However the Marathas under Shivaji continued the Vijayanagara


7. General Features of the Vijayanagara Empire


A tiny state of Vijayanagara which was founded in 1336

A.D. had grown in course of time into a mighty empire. With

this expansion, its rulers at the same time recognised the fact

that its strength and stability depended to a large extent on

sound administration. So they organised an efficient system

of administration, introducing changes from time to time

depending upon the exigencies of the period. The government

is characterised by a strong centre with a scheme of decentralisation.


Commenting on the administrative set up of the Vijayanagara

empire, T.V. Mahalingam says, "It is generally said that

in medieval Europe, feudalism was a necessity of the times.

Similarly, the particular form of government that obtained in

Vijayanagara was a necessity of the period. The very fact

that, in the Vijayanagara empire there existed side by side

with one another various heterogenous elements, diverse interests

and communities necessitated a strong monarchial form

of government." It was a hereditary monarchy. But, when

times arose, the able and ambitious ministers and generals did

not hesitate to remove the incompetent kings, whose policies

undermined the stability of the kingdom, and to usurp the

throne. Coronation was an important ceremony since it provided

legal sanction.

'Amuktamalyada' says that the King was the pivot of the

entire administrative mechinery and was the most important

limb of the body politic. He was the supreme authority in civil,

military and judicial affairs. The people of Vijayanagara showed

their respect to the kings for their personal bravery, character

and integrity. They did not, at the same time, lag behind to

exhibit their dislike towards the weak, cruel and sensuous

usurpers and patricides.

The kings had an enlightened conception of their duties

and responsibilities as the head of the government. Krishnadevaraya

in his 'Amuktamalyada' says, "A crowned king should

always rule with an eye towards Dharma, the lives of gods like

Indra, Varuna. Vaisravana, Vayu and Agni are the results of

their actions. The various worlds as Bhuh, Bhuvah and Suvah

owe their positions to Dharma". He writes "he should transform

the Kali age to Krita age". Protecting the people and

redressing their grievances were the primary duties of the

king. That is to say dushtanigraha and sishtaparipalana was

his most important duty. He was permitted to use danda

(force) to discharge properly this function. He must see that

the people would adhere to the rules of Vama and Asrama.

He considered that to look to the economic prosperity of the

people was also his duty. For this, measures were taken to

extend agriculture by clearing forests and provide irrigational

facilities. Protection and encouragement to foreign merchants

were given. Industries like mining were undertaken by the


Though the king possessed absolute powers, he was not

a tyrant. He was not a law-maker. He had to follow the

customs, traditions and public opinion. He had a paternal

conception of his duties. Allasani Peddana mentions, "He

(Krishnadevaraya) ruled over his subjects with kindness as

if they were his own children".

There was a ministerial council headed by Mahapradham

to assist the king in his task of administration. Mahapradhani,

Dandanayaka and Samantadhikari were some of the members

of this council. It seems that gradation was also there among

the ministers. Mahapradhanis like Saluva Timmarasa exercised

complete control over the administrates and commanded even

the household. The ministers maintained an organised bureaucracy

to carry on the day to day work of the government.

Krishnaraya opines, "When the work of a single officer is

entrusted to a number of men and when is of them is assisted

by a number of friends, the business of the state may be easily

accomplished. The satisfaction (with the rulers) increases

or decreases with the increase or decrease of their number.

Nothing can be achieved without the willing cooperation of

several officers; to keep them docile and obedient, truthfulness

and absence of niggardliness and cruelty are helpful." 'Amuktamaiyada'

refers to officials like Rayasams (secretaries writing

down the orders of the king), Sasanacharyas (officers drafting

the orders), Sampraties (secretaries of Heads of Departments)

etc. The kings maintained magnificent courts attended by

nobles, learned priests, astrologers and musicians.


Inscriptions and accounts of the foreign travellers throw

light on the revenue and financial administration of Vijayanagara.

References were made to assignment of land, remission of the

revenues, income from Sand, levy of fresh taxes and renewal

obsolete ones. Land revenue was the major source of income.

Depending upon the nature of the soil and the kind of crop

grown, taxes were levied. Taxation was not uniform throughout

the empire. One-sixth of the produce was generally paid

as the state's share. It was one-twentieth and one-thirtieth

in the case of lands held by Brahmins and temples respectively.

Besides the land-tax the ryots paid grazing tax, marriage tax

etc. The other sources of revenue for the state

were customs duties, tolls on roads, revenue from gardening

plantations, taxes on property, professional taxes, tax on industries,

military contributions, judicial income and fines and

other customary payments. Taxes were generally paid both

in cash and kind. On the whole it may be said that the incidence

of taxation was hevy. The provincial governors and

revenue officials often practised oppression on the people

However, at times, as part of redressal of grievances of the

people, remissions were made. A separate department called

'Athavane' efficiently looked into the land revenue administration.


K.A.N. Sastri writes, "Justice was administered by a

heirarchy of courts, the emperor's sabha being the highest

appellate authority." No doubt, the king was the chief judge.

But. generally on his behalf, the Pradhani dispensed justice.

In provinces, the Governors discharged the function as part of

their duty. Courts of different grades at different levels functioned.

Appeals lay from the lower to the higher courts.

Trial by ordeal was in vogue. Treason was considered

a heinous offence. Punishments were very severe. Nuniz

states, "For a thief whatever theft he commits, howsoever

little it be, they forthwith cut off a foot and a hand...If man

outrages a respectable woman or a virgin he has the same

punishment...Nobles who became traitors are sent to be impaled

alive on a wooden stake thrust through belly." Abdur Razzak

writes, "sometimes they order the criminals to be cast down

before the feet of an elephant that they may be killed by its

knees, trunks and tusks." But equality before law was not

enforced. Brahmins were exempted from capital punishment.

Consideration was shown for criminals ordered to be executed.

Krishnadevaraya writes, "In the matter of people sentenced

to death, give them the chance to appeal trice (for mercy).

But in the case of those people whose escape might bring on

a calamity to yourself, immediate execution is advisable."

Though the Vijayanagara rulers did not maintain a state

department of police, each district had its own arrangements.

Preservation of peace and order and detection of crime were

the main duties of the police men. Talari, Kavaligar and Desakavaligar

were some of the police officers referred in the contemporary

Vijayanagara records. Abdur Razzak greatly commended

the police system in the capital Regular street-petrolling

at nights was referred. Espionage system was regular and



For a state like Vijayanagara, which had to fight constantly

with the Muslims of the Deccan its very existence and stability

depended on its military strength. So its rulers had to maintain

a huge standing army, which was not of course uniform alt

through. In times of need, the standing army was reinforced

by auxiliary forces of the feudatories and nobles. They organized

a military department called 'Kandachara' under the control of

the Dandanayaka (Dannayaka) who was assisted by a staff

of minor officials. The king's guards were called the gentleman

troopers. In the warfare of the Vijayanagara period, infantry

including even Muslims, cavalry strengthened by good Ormuz

horse supplies through the Portuguese, elephants "lofty as hills

and gigantic as demons" and strong forts coupled with artillery

played an important role. Review of the forces used to take

place every year at the close of the Mahanavami festival.

Krishnadevaraya exhibited sentiment and personal touch, when,

after the battle was over, he used to go to the scene of war

and arrange for giving aid to the wounded. He even rewarded

the gallantry.


The Vijayanagara empire consisted of vassal states and

imperial provinces. The provinces that were directly administered

by the emperor through his representatives were

generally known as Rajyas or Mandalas or sometimes even

as Chavidis. The vassal states were administered through

the Nayakas (or Samantas).

For the imperial provinces, the distinguished members of

the royal family were appointed as governors (ex: Kumara

Kampana, Devaraya etc.) At times when suitable members

were not found in the royal family or when a capable and

trustworthy officer of the centra) government was required to

administer a troubled area, such a person was appointed as

governor (ex: Lakkanna Dannayaka and Saluva Tirnmarasa).

Generally the king used to appoint governors after consulting

his ministers.

The governors enjoyed greater amount of autonomy within

their jurisdiction. 'They held their own courts, had their own

officers, maintained their territories without interference from

central authority. They enjoyed the right to issue coins and

maintain law and order in their respective province. However

they were required to submit regular accounts of the income'

and expenditure of their charges to the central government and

render military aid in times of necessity. They maintained an

agent at the imperial capital to keep themselves informed of

the happenings at the court. In case of oppressive and tyrannical

governors, the central government used to interfere

Depending upon the requirement, the governors were

even transferred from one place to another. The autonomy

enjoyed by these governors later led to the disruption of the

empire under incompetent rulers.


In the second type of provinces, the administration was

done by the feudal vassals, variously called Samanta, Nayaka

etc. The system of administration of the kingdom through these

feudal vassals (Nayakas) is known as the Nayankara system

in the Vijayanagara times. This is an important feature of the

Vijayanagara provincial organisation. This system resembles

somewhat the feudal system of medieval Europe. 'The king

being the owner of the soil granted lands to some persons

as a reward. They were called nayakas and ruler over the

territory under their charge with great freedom. In return

they had to pay a fixed amount as tribute to the king besides

maintaining a prescribed number of troops for the service of

the sovereign during war.' On ceremonial occasions, these

Nayakas offered the king great presents of money and costly

gifts or presentations. Failure to conform to these obligations

was liable for punishment.

(The term 'Nayankara' is an abbreviation of 'Amaranayenkara',

composed of three syllables, Amara Nayaka and Kara.

Amara literally stands for a command of a thousand foot

soldiers. Nayaka stands for the military chief who held land

from the king. Kara probably means an office. Thus the term

Amaranayakara' may be taken to refer to a military chief who

was granted land, yielding a fixed revenue for the sovereign.)

The Nayakas enjoyed semi-independent status and the

degree of autonomy enjoyed by them varied from one chief

to another chief. With regard to the fixed amount of tribute

which the Nayakas had to pay, according to Nuniz, it was

usually one-half of their revenue. Regarding the number of

troops they were required to supply to the king and to lead

them in war, Domingo paes informs that it was the soversignthat

fixed the number in proportion to the revenue they derived.

The position of Nayaka was quite different from that of

the Governor. He was merely a military vassal who had been

assigned a district in lieu of certain military and financial

obligations. He was not transferable and his office was

personal but later on became hereditary, when the kings at the

centre became weak. The Nayaks on their part gave their

lands to other tenants on the same terms on which they had

received them from the king.' The Nayakas maintained two

agents, one military and the other civil, representing their

masters' interests at the imperial city.

The Nayankara system had its own merits and demerits.

It was because of this system of administration, new settlements

were formed, irrigation facilities were extended, new

hands were brought under cultivation and Hindu culture and

civilization was fostered and developed. However the amount

of autonomy which the Nayakas enjoyed gave them sufficient

opportunity to engage themselves in local wars and mutual

feuds. They even defied at times the Central authority. 'In

spite of its inherent weaknesses, it served its purpose tolerably



For administrative purposes and for promoting efficiency,

the provinces were further subdivided. The names of the

sub-divisions and their officers differed with the locality. They

were 'Kottams' or 'Venthe' (districts), 'Nadus' or 'Simas'

(Taluks) and 'Sthalas' (groups of villages). In parts of Karnataka,

the sthalas were further divide into 'Nadukas' and

'Vatitas'. Village was the last unit of administration. Each

village was a self-sufficient unit. The ancient institution, of

popular village assemblies or sabhas continued during the Vijayanagara

period. The village assembly conducted the administration

of the area under its charge (executive, judicial and police)

through its hereditary officers like Gowda, Karanika, Kavalu

etc. In big villages there was the representative of the king

known as 'Adhikeri'. Besides, the Ayagar system came into

prominence during this period, The Ayagars were a body

of village functionaries (about 12 officials), who were in charge

of the administration of rural areas. One of them the Talaiyari

was the watchman of the village and of the crops.' Then

there were associations of a corporate character (guilds) referred

in 'Amuktamalyada', enjoying some concurrent powers with

the sabha and cooperating with it in the transaction of its



The social life of Vijayanagara is of great interest. The reanination

of Hindu life, resulting in the revival of the ancient

Dharma modified to some extent by the experience of the age,

was seen during this period. The kings endevoured to protect

the Varnasrama Dharma arid maintain the social solidarity. The

prevalence of filial love' was instrumental in bringing together

into closer relationship the various conflicting elements in the

social life of the people.'

The caste system of the Hindu society had already lost

its regid nature. The Brahmins were still the most respected

members of the society. They were found in almost every

walk of life, enjoying even high offices as ministers and generals

in the state. It is curious to note that the name Kshatriya did

not figure during this period. The commercial and agricultural

classes might have made up the vitality. As T.V. Mahalingam

says, the rise of a social consciousness among the different

communities was the significant feature of the social history

of the later Vijayanagara period. At the lower levels, communities

like the Kambalattars (originally shepherds) followed the

system of polyandry and post-puberty marriages. Their women

were noted for loose moralaity. Prostitution was widely

prevalent. Devadasi, Sati and slavery systems existed. The

writings of poets and scholars like Sarvajna and Vemana reveal

the new spirit of reform against social evils like caste restrctions

and untouchability.

The rulers as well the ruled bestowed attention on agriculture.

The state provided irrigational facilities. Industres

like, diamond-mining were fully developed. The foreign visitors

like Razzak and Paes were profoundly impressed by the fully

vigorous economic life with huge population, rich bazars,

number of skilled craftsmen and dealers in precious stones

and other articles in the imperial capital. Razzak observes the

importance of roses in the daily life of the citizen. Temples, as

landlords and bankers, because of large endowments made

to them, played an important part in the public economy of

the period. Foreign trade carried on through important ports

like Honnavar, Bhatkal, Nagapatnam, Pulicat and others by

merchants and traders by forming into organisations, brought

in prosperity adding to the luxury and magnificence of court

life. However as Sathianathaier remarks, "The luxuries of the

king and his officers contributed to the splendour of the imperial

city, but the hard condition of the peasants, characteristic of

even the best period of Vijayanagara, should not be forgotten

in estimating the glories of the Hindu empire."


Though primarily Vijayanagara fostered and developed the

Hindu culture, it had the tradition of great tolerance towards

all religions so that bigotry was completely unknown. Inscrip

tions attest to the fact that religious persecution was never

tolerated. Reconciliation between different religious sects and

equal protection to all were referred in the records. Though

the Vijayanagara kings fought constantly against the Muslims,

no disrespect was shown to Islam at any stage. On the other

hand, they gave complete religious freedom to the Muslim

soldiers in their service. Devaraya II built a mosque for their

use in the capital. Ramaraya greatly developed Turkavada in

his time. Barboasa. the Portuguese navigator, testifies to the

spirit of tolerance of Krishnadevaraya in the following words :

"The King allows such freedom that every man may come and

go and live according to his own creed without suffering any

annoyance and without enquiry, whether he is a Christian, Jew,

Moor or Heathen—great equity and justice is observed by all."

Jainism, which did not recognise the authority of the Vedas,

received patronage and protection from the rulers. Bukka I

gave protection to the Jains of Penugonda, Hospet and others

from the Vaishnavites of Srirangam. Irugappa, a staunch Jaine

and who was the Dandanayaka of Harihara II built Jain temples

at Hampi, Kanchi and other sacred places. Devaraya II permitted

the Jains to build a temple at the capital in the Pansupari


With the coming of the Portuguese to India, Christianity

began to spread in the south in the sixteenth century. The

Jesuit priests propagated their faith. The Portuguese governors

and the Jesuit missionaries, with their combined efforts, converted

the Paravas, the Fisher folk on the fishery coast of

Tamilnadu during the reign of Achyutaraya. But their policy

of turning religious propaganda to political purposes roused

the resentment of the tolerant Vijayanagara kings. Ramaraya

promptly sent an expedition to fieshery coast.

Hinduism got a great impetus and protection during the

Vijayanagara period. The threat of Islam on one hand and

the influence of the Sringeri gurus like Bharati Tirtha and

Vidyaranya reduced the sectarian fanaticism. The Smartha,

Saiva and Vaishnava sects flourished freely in the empire. The

Sangamas were Saivites and their family deity was Virupaksha.

Scholars like Chamarasa made their contributions to Saivite

literature. Srivaishnavism became popular during the period

of the Saluvas and the Tuluvas. Tirupati, Ahobalam and Snnangam

were greatly developed. The cult of lord Venkatesa

had its ascendency in the time of Krishnadevaraya. Many

Muths of Srivaishnavas flourished at Ahobalam, Parakala and


other places. The family of Tatacharyas became prominent

in the time of Krishna and Achyuta. With the preachings of

Narahari Tirtha. Akshobhya, Jaya Tirtha and Vyasaraya, Vaishnavism

or Dvaita philosophy also made considerable progress.


Dr. T.V. Mahalingam says, "The foundation of Vijayanagara

empire coincided in point of time with the outburst of a

momentous literary movement in South India." Under the

patronage of the rulers of the empire, many eminent poets,

philosophers and religious teachers produced their works of

tasting importance in Sanskrit and in the regional languages

Telugu, Kannada and Tamil. Some of the rulers like Devaraya II

and Krishnadevaraya were themselves profound scholars and

powerful writers They gathered around themselves poets and



Vast literature was produced under the influence of the

remarkable religious stir and spiritual ferment of the age. Vidyasankara,

Vidyaranya, Sayana and his son Madhava and Madhava

Mantri composed their commentaries on the Vedic literature,

the Parasarasmriti and Manusmriti etc. They produced hundreds

of works on all aspects of Indian culture including astronomy

grammer, medicine, poetics and music. Sayana's 'Vedartha

prakasha', a commentary on the Vedas was undoubtedly the

greatest work of the period, Vidyaranya's works include 'Pansara

Madhaviya', 'Sankara Vijaya' and 'Rajakatenirnaya'. Isvai

Dikshita wrote two commentaries on Ramrayana in the reign

of Krishnadevaraya, Vedantadesika, Srikantha Pandita and

Jaya Tirtha added to the Vaishnava, Saiva and Madhava literatures


Gangamba and Tirumalamba produced their historical

poems 'Madhuravijayam' and 'Varadambikaparinayam' respectively.

A family of hereditary poets called Dindimas flourished

from the time of Harihara I down to Achyutadevaraya. Among

them, Dindima Rajanatha II wrote 'Saluvabhyudayam' and

Rajanatha III wrote 'Achyutarayabhyudayam'. Among the royal

authors, Devaraya II was credited with the authorship of

'Mahanataka Sudhanidhi.' Knshnadevaraya, besides being a

patron of scholars, was himself a gifted scholar both in Telugu

and Sanskrit. His Sanskrit works include 'Madalasa Charita,'

'Rasamanjari' and 'Jambavati Kalyanam'. Among the works

on music, erotics, medicine etc., mention may be made of

Vidyaranya's 'Sangitasara' on music. Devaraya II's 'Ratiratna

Pnadipika' on erotics, Sayana's 'Ayurveda Sudhanidhi' and

Lakshmana Pandita's 'Vaidyarajavallabham' on medicine and

Sayana's 'Dhatuvrdhi' on grammer.


'The bulk of the best part of the Telugu literature, which

affords the greatest delight in the minds of the Andhras, is

the product of direct patronage of Vijayanagara emperors and

their Viceroys. It is equally a striking phenomenon, that the

above literature has grown both in volume and variety under

Vijayanagara dynasty.' From the time of the Kanakabhisheka

of Srinatha by Devaraya II, Telugu began to dominate the

Vijayanagara court. It was in the time of Knshnadevaraya

that Telugu literature made its greatest advance. 'Under his

lead, the practice of translating from Sanskrit originals was

generally given up and independent prabandhas which handled

a Puranic story or some invented theme after the manner of

Mahakavya in Sanskrit came more into vogue'. Krishnadevaraya.

an accomplished poet in Telugu also, wrote 'Amuktamalyada'

in a very abtruse and complicated style, showing the depth

of his learning.

Tradition associates Krishna's name with the 'Ashiadiggajas',

the eight elephants who supported the world of Telugu

literature. Allasani Peddana stands out foremost among them.

He dedicated his work 'Manucharitra' to his patron-king. Nandi

Timmana, Dhurjati. Madayyagari Mallana and other poets also

received the patronage of Krishnaraya, Bhattumurti, Pingali

Surana and Tenali Ramakrishna, who belonged to post-Krvshnaraya's

period, became immortal with their contributions


As in Sanskrit and Telugu, in Kannada also a large number

of literary works, centring round the three principal religions

Jainism, Virasaivism and Brahmanism, appeared during this

period. Among the Jaina works, Madhura's 'Dharmanatha

Purana', Uritta Vilasa's "Dharmapariksha Sastrasara', Salva's

Jaina version of Bharata, may be mentioned. In the time of

Devaraya II, the Virasaivites rivalled the Jains in developing

the Kannada language and literature. They preferred prose

medium. Chamarasa, the author of Prabhulingalila', Bommarasa,

Kallarasa. Tontada and Siddhesvara were some of the scholars

renown. Among the Brahmanical poets, Kumar a Vyasa,

Timmana, and Lakshmisha were popular. Then a vast body of

literature was composed by Vaishnava singers like Sripadaraya,

Purandharadasa and Kanakadasa.


The feudatories of Vijayanagara like the Nayaks of Madurai

and even the Pandyan chiefs bestowed attention on the development

of Tamil literature. Krishnaraya also patronised Tamil

scholars. Kumara Saraswati, Jnanaprakasha, Tatvaprakasha

and Harihara received his patronage. On Dravida Saivism,

commentaries were produced.


K.A.N. Sastri observes, "Under Vijayanagara, South Indian

art attained a certain fullness and freedom of rich expression

in keeping with the consciousness of the great task of the

empire, namely the preservation and development of all that

remained of Hinduism against the onslaughts of Islam. In this

period temples became very elaborate both in structure and

organisation. Even old temples were amplified by the addition

of pillared hails, pavilions and other subordnate structures."

In conformity with the majestic resources of the Vijayanagara

empire, there was an elaboration of ceremonial observations

during this period. These observations were also reflected

in the enlargement of temple structures. Separate shrines

celebrating various festivals were erected. The notable contributions

of the Vijayanagera craftsmen were a shrine to

godess, pillared halls and pavilions like Kalyanamandapa and

the lofty gopuras

T.V. Mahalingam opines, "In the Vijayanagara period two

different schools of architecture were flouring side by side—

the Dravidian and the Indo-Saracenic—and the style of some

of the Hindu monuments was influenced by the Indo-Saracenic

style". Most of the architectural structures built during the

Vijayanagara period were confined to their capital city at Hampi.

The gigantic boulders that surrounded Hampi supplied ample

material for construction of the structure. Stone of two

varieties, one granite and the other green-coloured chlorite was

used for the buildings and the idols.

Much of the beauty of the Vijayarragara temples is produced

by their pillars. Pointing out, the same. Percy Brown

writes, "Much of the intricacy and rich beauty of Vijayanagara

type of temple was produced by the number and prominence

of its pillars and piers and the manner in which they are sculp

tured into the most complicated compositions, strange and

manifold, so that each becomes a figurative drama in stone."

Four types of pillars are discernible from among the temples

such as Vitthala, Hazara Rama and others. In the first type,

the shaft becomes merely the central core for the attachment

of an involved group of statues of heroic size chiselled entirely

in the round. In the second variety, circling round the centra)

column, a cluster of slender, miniature pillars often referred

as musical pillars on account of the sounds they produce when

they ere hit by a stone or a coil are seen. The third type consists

of the shaft composed of a series of small scale shrines.

The fourth variety relates to the type where the shaft has

sixteen or eighteen-sided surface. In response to the demand

for more richness of detail, the corbel of the pillar is elaborated

into a valute terminating in en inverted lotus bud.

The Vijayanagara kings were the force behind the artistic

activity of the period. The finest flowering of this movement

is seen in the magnificent examples at Vjayanagara, once noted

for gaity and colour, now deserted and known popularly as

Hampi. Though the city became a victim of destruction and

plunder, it retains its charm even in the ruins'. Expressing his

admiration for the ruins at Hampi, Percy Brown records, "No

remains of this city recall more vividly the story of the forgotten

empire of Vijayanagara than these massive terraces, still impressive

examples of. architecture in spite of their mutilated


Among the temples at Hampi, the most sacred Virupaksha

temple is said to have been built prior to the foundation of the

city, but many additions were made to it by Harihara I and

Krishnadevaraya. The temple of Vitthala is a fine example

of the Vijayanagara style. It 'shows the extreme limit in florid

magnicence to which the style advanced'. Its construction

began in the reign of Devaraya II and was continued even

upto 1565 A.D. The temple lies in a rectangular courtyard of

538 ft. by 310 ft. This courtyard is in fact cloistered with

entrances on three sides having three gopuras. The central

structure dedicated to Vishnu in the form of Vithoba is a long

and low structure 220 ft. in length and 20 ft. in width aligned

from east to west. The super structure of the central shrine

has since fallen.

The other structures consist of a closed mandapa, and a

mahamandapa and slightly to the side of it lies the Kaiyanamandapa.

Separated from these structures lies the stone

chariot in front of the mahamandapa. The mahamandapa, noted

for its supremely rich appearance, is a columned pavilion built

on a richly moulded and sculptured plinth 5 ft. high. The grace

of the 56 pillars inside, each 12 ft. high hewn out of solid

blocks of granite to form intricate compositions of sculptures,

is unparalleled. The Kalyanamandapa on the other hand, in

addition to the pillars, is significant for its beautiful flexion of

the cornice. An exquisite specimen of Vijayanagara craftsmanship

is the stone chariot. 'It has realistically revolving stone

wheels and to a fairly ample scale of a temple car, with every

feature imitated in granite, even to the elephant forms which

guard the steps'.

The Hazara Rama temple, with an enormous walled enclosure

(24ft. high), served as a place of worship for the

members of the royal family. It was built by Krishnadevaraya

during the period between 1513 A.D. and 1520 A.D. ft consists

of a central shrine, an Amman shrine. Kalyafiamandapaand

other mandapas. The main Vimana is partly stone-built

and partly brick-built. ThB temple is famous for its relief

sculptures on inner walls depicting the Ramayana scenes. The

other temples like Achyutaraya, Krishna, Pattabhirama and

Maiyavanta at Hampi exhibit the same characteristics of the

Vijayanagara style. ,

The Vijayanagara rulers restored many shrines throughout

south India and lavished wealth upon them. Krishnaraya provided

the huge towers, called rayaguras after him and pillared

halls to the temples at Tirupati, Srirangam, Kanchi, Tadipatri,

Vellore and other places.

The story of the forgotten empire is recalled by other

structures like the kings Audiance Hall, Throne platform. Lotus

Mahal, Queen's bath, the remnants of the fort watch tower.

elephant and horse stables, the main market area. Royat balance

and the TankasaJa and the colossa) monolithic images of

Narasimha and Ganesa and also the palaces of Penugonda

and Chandragiri,

The religious impulse of the Vijayanagara period inspired

the people to have beautiful paintings in their temples. The

ceilings of the Virupaksha and Vitthala temples were finely

painted. The best specimens Vijayanagar paintings are contained

in temples at Somapatem, Tripurantakam and Lepakshi.

The Lepakshi Virabhadresvara temple near Hindupur in the

Anantapur district was constructed by Penugonda Virupanna,

the treasury officer of Achyutaraya. It is famous for its natyamandapa

with delicately carved life-size musicians and dancers,

the huge monolithic Nandi and the mandapa ceilings with richly

painted scenes from the Puranas and the Epics.18)


A Note on The Raya-Bahmant Rotations

Two important historical events, that had taken place by

the middle of the 14th century A.D. instantaneously changed

the political scene in South India. They were the emergence

of the two independent kingdoms, one the Vijayanagara (1336

A.D.) and the other Bahmani (1347 A.D.). Both the kingdoms

arose out of many revolts that convulsed the empire of

Muhammad Bin Tughlak. If Vijayanagara rose, as most of the

scholars view it, as the embodiment of Hindu resistance to

the Islamic expansion, the Bahmani kingdom came into existence

out of the suspicion and fear, which was entertained in the

minds of some of the hundred foreign amirs, known as the

Centurions, about the Sultan's impending merciless killing of

them. One curious aspect is that Hasan Gangu (Ala-ud-din

Bahman Shah I), the leader of the Centurions, in founding the

independent Muslim kingdom in Deccan, even took the help

of local rulers including Kapaya Nayaka of Warangal and probably

Harihara I of Vijayanagara. But this help which the

Bahmanis received from the local Hindu rulers in founding

their kingdom did not prevent them from resolving, as true

Muslim rulers, to destroy the very Hindu kingdoms and bring

the south under the domination of Islam. Contrary to this,

the Vijayanagara rulers waged relentless wars with the Bahmani

Sultans for the preservation of their independence in the South

and for making or transforming Vijayanagara as the resort of

Hindu genius from ail over India and thereby providing hope

and inspiration for a moral and spiritual regeneration of Hinduism


No doubt, the history of the foreign policy of the Vijayanagara

rulers was principally a story of their incessant warfare

with the Bahmani Sultans to their north. There was hardly

any decade that passed without a clash of arms between the

two kingdoms. Since the contemporary Muslim chroniclers

painted these dynastic conflicts as 'Jihads' (holy wars) historrans

generally regard these wars as due to religious differences

of the two states. But in any of the peace settlements arrived

at the end of the wars, the imposition of one's religion upon


the other even when the Bahmanis were the victors, could

not be seen. Further, the rulers of Vijayanagara especially

Devaraya I, Devaraya II and Ramaraya employed Muslim horsemen

and archers and gave them complete freedom of worship

and other religious rites. Hence, if any body assumes religion

as the root cause of the wars between the two kingdoms, then

it is quite wrong.

As Prof. G.V. Rao sees it, the conflict between the two

states was the legacy of the past. The land between the

Krishna and the Tungabhadra, on account of its great economic

wealth had been a bone of contention and the rulers of Deccan

and South India always clashed over the possession of the

Doab had its own political overtones. The control of the

strategically important Krishna-Tungabhadra Doab with its

impregnable forts of Raichur and Mudgal and places Ike Bankapur

would, give the one an advantageous position over the

other for the ultimate overlordship of the entire peninsula. It

was the real cause of the clashes between the Western

Chalukyas and the Cholas as well as the Yadavas and the

Hoyasalas. On the ruins of the Yadava and Hoyasala dominions

rose the Bahmani and Vijayanagara kingdoms respectively.

These new states inherited the same legacy and the contest

between these two was nothing but a revival of the earlier

economic struggle between the Deccan and South India. The

so called undercurrent of their religious differences might have

served, on the part the Muslims, to brutalise the conflict. The

greed of the Sultans whose kingdom embraced the poorest

portion of the Deccan plateau, was naturally excited by the

wealth and prosperity of the Vijayanagara empire. Thus all

these factors dragged the two states into a prolonged and

fierce conflict which ultimately ruined both the powers.

The fierce and protracted Raya-Bahmani conflict commenced

in the reign of Bukkaraya I and continued till the end of the

Aravidu dynasty. After the dismemberment of the Batamni

kingdom, its successive states took up the cause and continued

the conflict. Trivial things and events used to serve as pretext

for wars. (For the details of wars, refer to the accounts

on individual monarchs starting from Bukkaraya I — Page 208)