The Srijan Foundation organized a talk of Sri. Ratnakar Sadasyula at New Delhi. The topic of the talk was ‘Vijayanagara: The City of Victory”.
What I try to do is just bring a, give us, you know try to give us a summary and a overall idea about Vijayanagara, Fine. So the first question is why Vijayanagara empire and why city of victory? Vijayanagara Empire existed for 400 years down south. The more critical part is the empire was actually formed, when you know most of the older empires in the south were actually breaking up due to the Islamic invasion. I mean, Islamic invasions coming from the north. The Islamic invasions had overrun most of the north and most of the kingdoms in the north were totally destroyed, was totally taken out by the Islamic rulers and they stepped into the south and you know, south had some particular dynasties like the Pandyas, the Cheras, the Kakatiyas, all of them are being destroyed, all of them had to face the brunt of the Islamic invasion especially Alauddin Khalji time and Malik Kafur.
So just at the time when Islamic invasion, when the Islamic rulers seem set to completely take over the south and Deccan, that was the time Vijayanagara Empire came up and for around 400 years, stood like some kind of what you call a bulwark, kind of resistance to the Islamic rulers, the reason why Islamic rule could not fully penetrate own south and Deccan and the reason was Vijayanagara Empire. But the fact is what, I observed is, outside of south, unless people had come to Hampi, not many really had an idea about the Vijayanagara Empire, not many really had an idea about the Vijayanagara Empire, that I don’t blame them because most of the CBSE textbooks hardly one, one and a half page on the Vijayanagara empire and that is the reason why I came up with this book and series so that, you know, people get to know of it and I mean , what I have given is a very layman’s view point of Vijayanagara empire, so that is what my focus of my topic was, the presentation is also going to be on.
So the backdrop, how did the Vijayanagara Empire, where did the Vijayanagara Empire come from? Before we talk about the Vijayanagara Empire, let’s just look at what was happening before that. If you take the year, that was 1001 AD, what was happening was, if you take down south, you have four major empires- one was the Pandyas, who were in Madurai. The other one was the Cholas in Thanjavur, the other one was the Chalukyas who were in Badami, which is in Karnataka. Hoysalas were in Halebid and Kakatiyas of Warangal. Most of them had very flourishing civilizations, very flourishing kingdoms, they were very famous for their temples wealth, pretty rich temples. So that was the time when India attracted the attention all over the world because of our wealth.
I mean most of these kingdoms, though they were with war each other frequently, they build up flourishing civilizations, huge flourishing civilizations, pretty advanced civilizations, very rich and prosperous and of course that news spread across the world that, there was India, one of the richest lands and that richness attracted one of the invaders, which has been Ghazni. Actually it was Ghazni, not his name actually it was actually a province in Afghanistan. So Mohammed of Ghazni was one of the more famous invaders. He heard of this wealth of India and he was the first one to attack India, somewhere in 1002. He defeated, I mean he started sweeping through the North of India. First he attacked Jayapala, the Kabul Shahi ruler that was entire northwest, that was the Afghanistan part.
Once upon a time it was pretty much a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom post the Muslim invasions, all those kingdoms were wiped out, it became a totally Islamic place and that started with Ghazni. He defeated the Kabul Shahi ruler Jayapala and then after that he started on the Northern India. So by 1013, the entire north was overrun, all the major kingdoms in the north they had fallen, one after the other, like the Thanesar, Mathura, Kanauj and all the famous, very famous civilizations, kingdoms which are there in the north all of the were conquered or destroyed by the repeated invasions of Ghazni and of course I think most of you must be aware to some extent of Somnath.
Somnath temple, which was reputed to be one of the riches temples then, reputed to be one of the very richest temple then, you know it faced repeated attacks by Ghazni. He plundered its wealth, he broke the particular Shivalinga also and in fact it is said that the wealth which he took from Somnath, he used that to build his own capital. So the repeated attacks on Somanath..,
After Ghazni the second Muslim invader to attack India, that was Ghori and Muhammad of Ghori, he again made repeated attacks on India. Initially he was repulsed many times by Prithviraj Chauhan. But what happened was like the battle of Tarain; I am not going into very much of details of all this, just give you a brief overview, in 1192 we had the Battle of Tarain, where he was betrayed by Jaichand, I mean , I think most of you must be aware of the story of Prithviraj, Jaichand, Samyuktha. So he was betrayed by Jaichand, he lost the battle to Muhammed Ghori and this defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in 1192, in a way laid the foundation for the Islamic rule in India, which was primly the Delhi Sultanate.
The first Islamic ruler, what we call as the slave dynasty, it was started by Qutubuddin Aibak in 1209. Basically he was, it was called as a slave dynasty because this Qutubuddin Aibak has worked as a slave under Muhammed of Ghori. Later he founded his own kingdom which was called as the Slave Dynasty and he predictably Jaichand, who betrayed Prithviraj, was killed by this Qutubuddin Aibak and he completely conquered the entire Northern plains up till Bengal. As you can see the map, you can see the map of what is Islamic rule, it was the entire Northern plains and up till Bengal completely conquered by the Islamic rulers around that time and after again the slave dynasty, 1219, you had Jalaludhin Khilji, who overthrew the Slave dynasty, I mean the Slave Dynasty, and founded what was the Khilji Dynasty and Jalaludhin Khilji was in turn was killed by own nephew, that is Juna Khan, his real name was Juna Khan and of course Alauddin Khilji, I think his name is pretty famous nowadays for obvious reasons.
So here, what happened was till Alauddin Khilji, actually ya, one thing is like everybody knows about Alauddin Khilji, Padmini and all but another thing is, Alauddin Khilji, till then most of the Islamic rule was mostly established in the North, it was primly established in the North, i.e. the Gangetic plains, Bengal and Gujarat. Alauddin Khilji what he did was he conquered most of Rajputana, most of Rajasthan and all he conquered. After that he turned his attention towards the southern Deccan.
Now these empires, I mean these kingdoms, once upon a time was the most flourishing kingdoms, they were also entering into their last stages. They are also entering into their final stages like most kingdoms. So till in the 14th century, I mean till then the Southern Deccan was relatively lesser invaded, comparing to what was happening in the North, South was not much affected by the Islamic invasions, but once after Alauddin Khilji came to power, he started spreading it and then invasions came out and of course yes that was Malik Kafur, his eunuch slave with which whom he may have had kind of relationships, he was the one who led the invasion down south, Malik Kafur the eunuch slave, he was the one who led the invasion down the south, ok.
The first kingdom to fall was Devagiri, which was like the capital of the Yadava dynasty, so that was the first kingdom to be attacked, its ruler Ramachandra was killed, and by 1293 the Yadava kingdom was destroyed. Devagiri is more popular to us nowadays as Daulatabad. If anybody of you have been to, if anyone has been to Ajanta-Ellora or Aurangabad, you must have seen Daulatabad that was Devagiri in ancient times. That was nothing but, that was Devagiri in ancient times. After the Islamic rule it became Daulatabad. So this Devagiri was captured by him, the end of Yadava rule. After that he went further south, we had the Kakatiya rule at Warangal, which is near to my place, 3kms from. I just live 3 hours from Hyderabad, Warangal which had this Kakatiya rule, Kakatiya dynasty, which was again one of the most flourishing kingdoms in the country, that too was, fell to the Islamic invasion. That is why in 1309, Warangal which is the capital of Kakatiya dynasty that too fell and so the Kakatiyas also became; came to an end.
He swept further down and then the Hoysalas. 1311, Hoysalas in Halebid, I am not sure if anybody have been to Halebid or you must have seen the Hoysala dynasty. So that was the next kingdom to be overrun and again its ruler Veera Ballala was forced to pay tribute and he was actually killed in a pretty rather grizzly manner. He was actually burnt alive to death. Fortunately what happened was, though Malik Kafur came up till south, he was checked by the Pandya rulers. I mean after finish; after defeating the Yadavas, after defeating the Kakatiyas and after defeating the Hoysalas, he came further down south to Pandyas, who were ruling over Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Fortunately Vikrama Pandian ruler, he checked Kafur’s invasion, I mean he manged to check the invasion of Kafur. But even then Trichy, two major cities in Tamil Nadu – Trichy and Thanjavur both of them were conquered and there was heavy scale destruction. It was like a typical Muslim invasion, they would go everywhere, either temples would be erased or cities or towns and towns would be massacred, you know exterminated.
So it was that, fortunately Madurai was saved, fortunately Madurai was saved from the Khilji invasion but Thanjavur and Trichy could not escape that kind of destruction. So why I am telling all this is like because this is to give a backdrop of why the Vijayanagara Empire was actually significant. So as you can see what was happening so far is the Muslim rule had totally, the Islamic rulers had totally taken over the north and the entire Gangetic plains, Bengal, Gujarat may be Rajasthan, ya still the Rajputs were there. But still most of North was taken by them, most of North and Bengal was taken by them and the Deccan, that is starting from Maharashtra onwards, Deccan, south, it was still not completely untouched but in by that time most of, at least most of the Deccan was also occupied by the Islamist rulers. Fine, and couple of more years what would happen is, it would have I mean the entire India would have been under Islamist rule and no resistance to offer and this is the reason why the emergence of Vijayanagara empire is very significant.
So as I told you by 1330, the north was completely under Delhi Sultanate, the north was completely under the Delhi sultanate and all these great dynasties, the Cholas the Pandyas, the Chalukyas. I mean once upon a time they were all great dynasties, great kingdoms, great rulers but like any kingdom all of them have come into their final stages and you know they could not face the invasions, could not resist the invasion of the Islamist rulers and most of them suffered heavy defeats, the Kingdoms are also ending. So it was that kind of cross road situation, that kind of crossroad situation, you know where Islamic rulers were totally threatening to overtake the south, just as the way they did with the North and the West, fine.
It was the same time what happened was, we also had Mohammed Bin Tughlaq, you know I mean after the Khilji Dynasty came to an end, you had the Tughlaq Dynasty coming into the picture and that was time we had Mohammed Bin Tughalq coming as a ruler, around the same time and Tughlaq, of course I think most of us, it’s a quire familiar name because of his cranky ways. He is known for his very eccentric, eccentricity and he is also very cruel kind of behaviour. I mean he was sort of (indistinctive) he was very intelligent. On one side he was supposed to be very intelligent, very learned but he was also very eccentric absolutely cruel, absolutely cruel, one of (indistinctive) pretty much disastrous policies.
I mean that is a different topic altogether and here what was happening was like, now this dynasties down the south had already suffered heavy defeats under Alauddin Khalji, with Alauddin Khalji and now they are fearing what was happening if Tughlaq, once Tughlaq, once the Tughlaq army comes and that would be the actual end of it. By now most of these dynasties, these kingdoms were totally broken, all was left was, for the final annihilation to take place. So here that was the time, there was need for some kind of resistance, some kind of empire in the south, which would actually resist the Islamic rule.
So it was like the crossroad situation, all the old kingdoms were completely in their final stages of decay. So a new kingdom was needed, a new empire was needed that could resist the Islamic rule, fine. So and that is where the Vijayanagara dynasty came into the picture, the founders; now basically what was happening was the founders of these kingdoms falling, the people who belonged to these kingdoms the Hoysalas or the Kakatiyas or the Chalukyas, they started looking towards an alternative. I mean some kind of like common alternative that could resist the Islamic invasions down south and protect the essential nature of India of civilization and that was the time you had two brothers name Harihara and Bukka Raya, two brothers who were named Harihara and Bukka Raya, who founded this Vijayanagara Empire.
They are actually, there were different theories about how they were from, their father was called Sangama and in fact one of the first dynasty, the first dynasty of the Vijayanagara was in fact called the Sangama Dynasty. So there were couple of different theories, as per one theory these brothers were serving under the Hoysalas, they were serving under the Hoysala ruler Veera Bhallala III and there was already one place called Hosapattana, which was the, which was where the Vijayanagara empire developed. I mean, that was one theory, that was one theory and of course there was another theory saying that, these two brothers actually served in the Kakatiya empire, they were captured when Warangal, was defeated by the Khilji rulers and converted to Islam and then they did a Ghar wapsi again. I mean there is that theory also. But again that theory I mean, this theory again was more again from all these Muslim scholars like Firishta, Ibn Battuta. It was theory propagated by them again historically, there is not much basis for this theory, though this one of the theories that was floated, this was the brothers and finally there was.
The generally accepted theory was these brothers were in charge of the Kakatiya treasury. Harihara and Bukka both of them were in charge of the Kakatiya, the treasury of the Kakatiya kingdom and also served in the army so the generally accepted theory is once the Kakatiya empire fell, I mean once Warangal fell to the Khilji rulers, these brothers escaped from there and they went to a place called Anegundi, Anegundi if you have been to Hampi, it comes near to Hampi, it comes near to Hampi and Hampi also in the left bank and Anegundi is on the other bank. So at that time it was a pretty small, it was not a kingdom, it was a small principality kind of, very small minor principality kind of thing, so these brother escaped to Anegundi. This was the generally, I mean, this is the generally accepted theory of where these brothers had come from, though there are conflicting theories of it.
So here after the Warangal fell and the Kakatiya dynasty came to an end, these brothers took the refuge at the Rajas of… so Harihara was the minister, worked as a minister and Bukka was a treasurer fine. So here what happened was Tughlaq’s nephew was there Bahauddin. I mean so he made a rebellion against Muhammad bin Tughlaq, he rebelled against his uncle and predictably he fled to, once the fighting broke out he fled to this Anegundi, he took refuge in this particular place Anegundi to escape from his uncle. So here what was happening was but once Muhammad bin Tughlaq laid seize to Anegundi, he laid seize to Anegundi and the King of Anegundi knew that there is no way he could fight the, you know, the Sultanate army and he had to surrender Bahauddin to Tughlaq.
There is actually a pretty grizzly story, I mean a very grizzly story that Bahauddin, once Tughlaq capture Bahauddin, he first flayed him alive, cut him into pieces, disfleshed, you know it’s a pretty grizzly kind of story. He was tortured and executed to death in the worst possible manner. Ok fine. Now coming to the point, what Tughlaq did what, he put Naib Mallik, he put Naib Mallik as the governor in charge of the Anegundi. After sometime what these two brothers Harihara and Bukka did was, they overthrew Naib Mallik and they took control over Anegundi and in a way that laid the foundation for Vijayanagara Empire, so in a way that laid the foundation for Vijayanagara Empire, ok.
So there was an interesting story going that these two brothers , I mean once they were going for a hunt, there is a very interesting back tale to this that these two brothers were once going for a hunt, you know once they have and at a particular place, they saw that the rabbit was actually chasing their hounds back , generally I mean when they are going for the hunt they used to take the hounds to it, they saw at a particular spot the rabbit was actually chasing their, actually giving chase to the hounds back and that was the time they felt there must be something about this place, I mean there must be something special about this place, again this a more of a bit of a myth or a legend, I am not sure but generally this is like one of the stories that comes up about the founding of Vijayanagara but what happened was once they saw this, the brothers they met their Guru Vidyaranya Swami.
So before we go into Vijayanagara, we need to know about Vidyaranya. Vidyaranya Swami is considered the Patron saint of Vijayanagara. So he, Vidyaranya Swami, he was like the inspiration behind founding, he was like the guru to both Harihara and Bukka and I mean both of the looked up to him, sometime for spiritual advice or any other advice. So when they went and told him that this is what we saw, he advised them to actually, you know said that this place has got some pretty magical qualities set up your kingdom there. Now Vidyaranya Swami actually was actually belonging to what was called the Sringeri Mutt. You know one of the four Mutts which Adi Shankara established. I think you must be knowing the Sringeri, Dwaraka, Badrinath, and Puri.
So again Sringeri has also got its own myth saying that Adi Shankara when he went there, he saw a cobra giving shelter to a frog, you know felt that there must be something special about the place and that’s why he established Sringeri there. That’s the story of Sringeri. So Vidyaranya Swami his real name was Madhava, so he became, he took Sanyasa, he undertook the name of Vidyashankara Tirtha and in 1331 AD when Madhava, he took Sanyasa, he assumed the name of Vidyaranya, Vidyaranya means the forest of knowledge, technically it means the forest of knowledge, and this is the one of the temples at Sringeri. If you can see it’s in bit of a circular shape, the shape, If you can see the temple obviously is in a bit of circular shape actually. If you observe it, the significance is this that Vijayanagara was also built in the same circular shape. I think some of you must have some idea about Srichakra, primly used in Tantra.
So Vijayanagara was also built in that particular form, that particular circular format of Chakra. So here apart from that; this Sringeri temple was; Vidyaranya Swami was one who initiated Harihara into what is called as the Atmavidya and Vidyaranya Swami was given the title as Karnataka Simhasana Pratishthan Acharya or the founder of the Karantaka throne, Ok, and personally he was one of the greatest philosophers in the Advaita philosophy. Vidyaranya Swami was regarded as the one of the greatest scholars in Advaita philosophy. He also wrote commentary on the Vedas, the Vedanta Panchadashi, he was regarded as the one of the highly regarded scholars and that was the reason both of the brother Harihara and Bukka used to look up to him a lot, for any advice they used to look up to him .
So here like this is the very interesting tale of founding of Vijayanagara. So once their Guru told that, fine, this spot of Vijayanagara is suitable for your empire. The brothers decided to found it there on the advice of their Guru. So what Vidyaranya did was he first prayed to Sharadhamba- Saraswati. He prayed for the first time he prayed to her and said that grant us a kingdom, Hindu Kingdom that is going to last for 2000 years and then he told the brothers, he told both Harihara and Bukka stand at a particular point, take this particular point and both of you stand there, I will blow the conch then you start digging. I mean what you call lay the foundation stone, Ok. So the brothers waited for the signal and when he blew that particular conch, he blew the conch, they started laying the foundation.
But immediately after he laid the foundation another conch sound came. The brothers got confused, I mean why is that second time the sound is coming, fine. Again Vidyaranya supposed to have approached Sharadhamba, she told him that, time is not yet right for a 2000 year old empire. But this is going to last at least for 200 years, though it lasted more than that, and she also made another prediction apparently that a 2000 year old Hindu empire can be may be established after another 500 years, what she had apparently she told. So anyway on the advice of the brothers, on the right bank of the Tungabhadra river, Tungabhadra river is there, on the right bank of the Tungabhadra river, what we call as Hampi, that is where the capital of Vijayanagara started to build and like I told you, it’s in the form of a Srichakra temple. In the form of a Srichakra, if you take it its actually, its 9 gates and three four layers of wall and right in the middle you have the Virupaksha temple.
If any of you go to Hampi you can observe that, it’s basically built in a circular shape. It’s basically built in a circular shape supposed to be resembling the Srichakra and this what you are seeing is the Vijayanagara flag. What you are seeing in the picture here is the flag of Vijayanagara that has the Boar, the Varaha, that has a Varaha boar and the Sun, Moon and the triangle. So this was the standard flag of the Vijayanagara Empire that used to be blown, fine.
The first dynasty that followed was Sangama dynasty which was Harihara and Bukka, again I am going to just give you abrief overview of most of the dynasties because it not possible for me to go in depth into everything. So Sangama dynasty, this was started by Harihara and Bukka. So apart from Harihara and Bukka, though they were the main brothers, there were actually five brothers. I mean there was Harihara, Bukka and three more other brothers, it was Marappa, Kampana and Mudappa. All these five brothers were the ones who were in charge of the first dynasty. So, they gave their titles like the Karnataka Vidya Vilas, Bashegetappuvarayaraganda, I mean punisher of those feudatories who don’t keep their promises and Vidyaranya Swami was the Raja Guru.
Vidyaranya Swami was the Raja guru for the kingdom, he was the one who played the role of advisor to these brothers, advising them on their kingdoms and their responsibilities, what they had to do. So basically if you take the foundation of Vijayanagara, two families played a major role one was Sangama, one was Harihara’s family that is Harihara, Bukka and their three brothers, other one was Vidyaranya’s family. Vidyaranya himself was the Raja Guru, his brothers also later played a major role in the founding of Vijayanagara. So these two families actually played a crucial role in the establishment of Vijayanagara Empire and its foundation, fine.
So Vidyaranya Swami had his brothers Sayana. So Sayana was Raja Guru to Sangama III, who was Harihara’s Nephew. So while Harihara and Bukka looked after Vijayanagara, the brothers looked after different region like Marappa administered what is called Chandragutti, it’s a place called Chandragiri near Tirupati, if you go to Tirupati, it is pretty close to Tirupati. Kampana governed over Nellore, which is coming primarily in the coastal Andhra region and Mudappa looked after the Mulbagal region, which is primarily in Karnataka. On this side I tell you, Vidyaranya, one was like Sangama who was, Sangama II, who was like primarily looking after the eastern provinces, that is primarily Andhra and the coastal areas. Other brother of Vidyaranya was Bhoganatha, who was the Jagadguru of Sringeri, who was the main Jagadguru Acharya of Sringeri. So in effect like these two particular families played a major role in the founding of Vijayanagara and its growth.
So around 1343 AD Harihara passed away and now generally like Kampana should have been the natural successor, being the second son but because, again this was one more feature of Vijayanagara is there is no natural law of succession. Generally what happens was, generally the elder brother, if he passes away the next brother takes part, in case of Vijayanagara Empire it was like, you know depending upon the capability. It was not seniority that determined, it was determined by the capability or who had the more power, he took; became the next ruler. In this case also it was the same, Bukka was actually the third brother, not the second brother. After Harihara the second brother was Marappa and Bukka was the third but Bukka here was the second in command. He was like Harihara’s right hand man, so he had the more power, he had more experience, he was the one who became the next ruler.
There was a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing was people got selected; I mean you, one who got the power also got the throne instead of making it just based on the; what you call the seniority of age. The negative side was the bloody battles for this. The negative side was you know obviously, in the later stages, there were lot of battle of succession that broke out and some of those; some of them pretty much Game Of Thrones kind of plots, because of this, because obviously there is going to be friction that, you know, I deserve the throne but somebody else took over. So that was the negative side of it and that actually became in the later stages of Vijayanagara Empire, these continuous battle for succession, you know became pretty much fatal to the empire and that in a way resulted in its downfall also but again we will come to that point later, after Harihara, I mean Harihara, not much in one about Harihara’s rule, a brief rule. Bukka was the one who expanded his kingdom. So he expanded it all the way up till Kalinga, it is nothing but modern day Odisha, which is pretty much modern day Odisha.
For most of the south Deccan, Odisha, most of the rulers or kingdoms who were down south, they knew that on their own they didn’t have the resources, they did not have the strength, they did not have the power to resist the Islamic Invasions. So tactically they accepted the sovereignty of Vijayanagara. So it was like, all of them they saw Vijayanagara as the focus, as the alternative and they all started moving towards Vijayanagara. They started accepting its sovereignty. Because they knew that accepting it was a kind of beneficial deal for them. They would be part of the empire and they would also have kind of protection against any future invasion and that was the reason for Vijayanagara growing, because as I told you, all the older kingdoms which are there had already fallen. People who are looking for a new empire, and this is how Vijayanagara emerged. So all the smaller kingdoms, they started moving towards Vijayanagara, whether they accepted, they were absorbed into Vijayanagara or they accepted its sovereignty and that’s how the empire started growing. Nobody really, I mean they find it was beneficial. Ok?
And like I told you, first is the defence against invasion from the North, the second one was the emerging Bahmani kingdom. So, when I talk about Vijayanagara, its rivalry was actually more with what was called as the Bahmanis. So basically, when you take the history of Vijayanagara Empire, the history of Bahmani Empire, is also, I mean both of them come together. Because the rivalry was actually between these two wings of Muslim. Fine.
So basically like, if you take the south and Deccan, what was happening was their constant battles. Mostly between the Hindu kingdoms among themselves or between the Bahmani rulers and the Hindu kingdoms and that was the reason why there were lots of changes in the alliances and tactically. So let us just, ya, so when you are looking at the story of Vijayanagara, we need to know a bit about the Bahmani kingdom also.
Bahmani kingdom was founded by Aladdin Bahman Shah whose real name was Hasan Gangu. He actually said, he was a servant in the home of an astrologer named Gangadhar Shasthri in Delhi. Later he was General in Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s army and he became a Governor down south. After sometime what happened was after Tughlaq died, he broke away from the Sultanate. He established his own kingdom in 1347 and he took the name of Aladdin Bahman Shah. Ahsanabad is like current day Gulbarga.
So again by Bahman, I mean generally one assumption is that Bahmani kingdom was corruption of Brahman and all that. Again, it’s not historically verifiable. People assume that there is one theory going around Bahman was the corruption of Brahman and they ended in Bahman. But generally the more accepted theories what saying they ended the Iranian general Bahman Zaduri. Bahamans are primarily Shias and they were primarily of Persian origin. They were primarily Persian Shias. So the theory is that it was named after the general named Bahman Zaduri who fought during the Arabs during the war. So they adopted the name of the dynasty Bahmani kingdom for it that is a generally accepted theory.
And initially this Bahmani kingdom was at Gulbarga which is in Karnataka. So if you take the next couple of years there was a constant battle for supremacy, a constant rivalry between these two, the Bahmani kingdoms and the Vijayanagara kingdom. Of course there was a third player also in this, the Portuguese, but they come much later. But the primary rivalry was between these two kingdoms – the Bahmanis and the Vijayanagara. So if you take a look at the map, the one in the orange here, the orange colour is the one which is representing the Vijayanagara empire, the green represents the smaller kingdoms and the above Vijayanagara are what you call as the Bahmani kingdoms, which is how generally how the map of India looked during that time.
So, Aladdin Mahmud Shah was the first one, after that he conquered till Adoni, and he was succeeded by his son Mahmud Shah I. So the rivalry was primarily between Mahmud Shah I and Bukka. Now again like typical Islamist invasions. The Bahmani rulers used to make regular raids on the Vijayanagara Empire. Every time they made raids on the Hampi, you know, they use to either destroy whatever temples were there or you know and massacre the Hindus. It was a common feature.
So that was like Mahmud Shah, first he attacked Warangal, all the inhabitants were mercilessly slaughtered and a prince was there, Vinayaka Deva, he was again killed in a very grossly manner, like he was tied and made into a burning catapult, killed in a rather gruesome manner, like most of the cases. Finally I mean Warangal fell and became part of the Bahmani Empire and the wars actually Mahmud Shah himself is estimated to have massacred around 5 lakh Hindus, the first ruler and devastated most of the Carnatic, Carnatic provinces are the ones in Tamil Nadu. The devastation was so large that it took some time for the provinces to recover from the devastation. Devastation is the same thing, most of the major temple destroyed, or town and towns were just raised to the ground and in some cases there were forcible conversions .Ya, this is what is said.
You know when he was like a, this is what Mahmud Shah I said about that. It was ordered by the decree of providence and I have no power to alter it. When asked about why he was slaughtering and massacring all these innocent people, this is what he said. It was ordered and I have no power to alter it. Ok? And finally, there were different battles, I am not going into the in-depth details of the battles because there is a lot involved in the battles, but one of the critical one was the Raichur Doab. One of the two major rivers which are down South are, one is the Tungabhadra and one is the Krishna River.
So between these two rivers you have, what you call is the Raichur Doab region. It was very fertile, very strategic and most of the major battles were fought for that particular Raichur Doab. And again between Bukka and Mahmud Shah I, there was, for the control of the Raichur Doab, there were lot of battles and again it was seize off it. Sometimes Bukka Raya won and sometimes Mahmud Shah I won. Ok? Fine. He also tried to capture Vijayanagara. He tried to capture Hampi itself. Almost for a month he laid seize to Hampi. But what happened was like, again, there was a very fierce resistance from the Hindus and they bet him back all the way across. They bet him back all the way across. So though he managed to capture some of the areas, around Hampi, he couldn’t capture Hampi itself.
One more thing is one of the reasons why most of the Muslim rulers found it difficult to capture the Hampi was the region like, most of it was pretty rocky and the other 4 to 5 lines of defence., very difficult for them to penetrate to the defence and being a rocky area, it was easy to do the ambush attacks. So, after this what happened was, after Mahmud Shah died, his successor, his son Mujahid Shah came to the throne. He wrote to Bukka saying that you know, you just restrict yourself up till Tungabhadra River all the forts on that give them to me. Fine. Bukka shout back saying that, no we are not doing that, you vacate the entire Doab, and you vacate the entire Doab and also Raichur Mudal fort.
Predictably, there is again a constant battle between these two. So what he did was, he again like his father he laid seize to Hampi. He felt that you know taking a seize of Hampi was not productive. Because it was not possible to defeat them there. So he tried to bring them out into the open. If he bring them out in the open battle, it’s easier to defeat them. What he did was there is a very rich temple near Hampi. A very rich temple near Hampi containing a lot of precious stones and jewels. He attacked the temples and started looting all the precious stones and jewels. Once the temple was attacked, the Vijayanagara forces came out of Hampi and attacked into the open. And actually, in the open warfare, he was having the strength.
So initially what was happening was the Vijayanagara Empire, Vijayanagara forces were at the verge of losing. Just then however Kampana, the brother of Bukka came in time and he bet back Mujahid and Vijayanagara was fortunately saved for that time. So later, Mujahid himself was killed by his own uncle and within Bahmani kingdom itself there were lot of internal dissensions going around between the nobles and the royalty and taking advantage of that, Bukka managed to recapture most of the areas back. Ok?
Other one was like at the same time, one of the other features was the Madurai sultanate which was further down south. Madurai sultanate was carried by son Kampana. There is actually a famous book called Madurai Vijayam on this. Near Madurai there was a place called Tondaimandalam. That ruler actually, there was a ruler called Champaranya was initially defeated by Bukka Raya because of the rivalry between them. Madurai till then was under the rule of Muslim ruler, the Sultanate rulers. So Kampana he turned his attention to Madurai and soon, in a very fiercely fought battle he managed to capture Madurai, he captured it back from the Sultanate rulers and soon Madurai, Srirangam and the surrounding areas became part of the Vijayanagara Empire. Kampana’s exploits in Madurai, his wife wrote a book called Madhura Vijayam in Sanskrit which primarily deals with this particular phase. His war to recapture Madurai from the Islamist rule. And he also captured Goa, Odisha. So, you can see the extend of Vijayanagara empire, you can see that it covers a major part of the south, it covers almost entire south and a major part of the Deccan. You can see the extend of the Vijayanagara empire. And they also had a control over the coastal areas too that means they had access to the trade also. Fine.
After Bukka, his son Harihara came to the throne. Again like, Harihara had to firstly deal with the revolts, I mean there were revolts, some of the feudatory smaller rulers against the Vijayanagara Empire. He had to subdue the revolt. Same time again Bahmani kingdom had its own internal dissensions breaking out between the rulers and the others. What happened was like, taking advantage of this, Harihara captured Raichur, he captured the entire Goa and the entire Malabar Coast was captured by them, from Goa to Kerala, the entire Malabar Coast was taken by Vijayanagara Empire. And that gave them a very strategic advantage and also made it a trading power because they had the entire west coast in their grip. The entire west coast was there in their grip. And after that he captured the eastern part, that is the eastern coast also, the places like Kondaveedu, Kurnool, Nellore, the entire south was, now under the Vijayanagara rule.
His son also went as far as Ceylon. Likewise I told you the major trigger for the conflict of the Krishna- Tungabhadra Doab, which the Vijayanagara rulers were keen to capture. So his son Bukka the second tried to capture the Tungabhadra Doab but there was an attack from the Bahmani ruler Firoz and you know he had a narrow escape with his life from the Bahmani rulers. Firoz had a brother called Ahmed who was the head of Khan Khanan. Just like his brother he used to make large scale attacks from the regions South of Vijayanagara., you know destroying villagers and imprisoning people.
So finally, after a lot of constant raids and battles Harihara II agreed to some kind of truce with the Bahmani rulers sometime to avoid these constant wars and distinction were taking place. Harihara II was also, like most of the Vijayanagara rulers he was also a patron of literature. He patronised a very famous Kannada poet called Madhura Jain who wrote a work called Vaidika Marga Sthapana Charya and after his time, there was a period of confusions, a couple of weak rulers were there, a period of confusion and then you had Devaraya I ascending the throne. I mean, he was not a direct successor, there was bit of big period of confusion and a bit of chaos, there were internal battles and then you had Devaraya I ascending the throne in 1406. Ok?
Initially he had a pretty inauspicious start. Initially he had to face a very heavy defeat at the hands of Firuz Shah Bahmani initially and he also had to lose a very strategic force of Bankapur, which is located in Karnataka now and that was captured by Bahmani rulers and around 60,000 Hindus were taken as prisoners. So both these were pretty terrible losses. It was not the best of way to start the empire. So again he had to sue for peace, he had to prevent this one, he had to again kind of sign a peace treaty with Firuz, give his daughter to marriage him to stop this wars. And here what happened was in order to get over this humiliation, what Deva Raya did was, he started opening a sort of strategic alliance against the Bahmani rulers. There was like Kataya Vema, who was a Reddy ruler and the other one was Anadeva Choda was a Velama ruler. So these, he started forming a strategic alliance with smaller chieftains. He realised that on its own, Vijayanagara army was having its limitations. So he started forming a strategic alliance with other smaller rulers to counter the Bahmani rulers.
The other regions of Reddy Rajulu of Rajahmundry, Recharla Padmanayaka of Central Telangana. Here again, actually you know, like there was a bit of alliances that were going on and on. Though Vijayanagara Empire was expanding, these kingdoms like some other kingdom which I have mentioned here, like the Recharla Padmanayakas, the Eastern Gangas, these kingdoms, they had no love lost with each other. So that’s the reason why, it was like one of the most pretty much strife, there was constant battles either between the Bahmanis and the Vijayanagara or between the Hindu kingdoms among themselves and because of these internal battles within the Hindu kingdom, some of them used to support the Bahmani rulers also. Some of them used to support the Bahmani rulers against the other rival in the kingdom. Ok.
So like, for example, the rulers of Kondaveedu, which was one of the smaller kingdoms. They initially supported the Vijayanagara Empire. When Deva Raya started trying to ally with another Reddy rulers of Rajahmundry, because these Rajahmundry rulers were their rivals and they went and switched on to the Bahmanis. Now you can understand why, how the Muslim rulers were able to over reign, the constant battles between the Hindu rulers, taking the help of siding with the Muslim leaders just to get even with their rivals that was what was happening. This was what was happening out here. I think the picture is pretty much obvious. And this what happened was Padmanayaks who till then were the allies of the Bahmanis, they shifted to Vijayanagara.
So as you can see, this is difficult you know pretty much a typical Game of Thrones where the allies keep changing. That was what was happening out here. So finally, anyway Deva Raya managed to stitch an alliance. He first attacked Panagal and with the Padmanayaka, he soon managed to capture most of coastal Andhra, Telangana region and he managed to capture the entire Andhra Telangana region. He made all these alliances. He captured it and bought it into the Vijayanagara Empire. Fine? Ok.
Now let’s take a break from the battles and all. The greatest achievements was in the field of irrigation and water supply. When everybody goes to Hampi they see it has great temples, great palaces and all but one achievement of Vijayanagara empire is not known to many. It was of irrigation and water supply network and this is I take it as one of their greatest achievements. Why? Because Hampi was in a very rocky region, which doesn’t have any water. If you visit Hampi, it’s a pretty rocky area. Just the Tungabhadra River is flowing there but apart from that, there is no water source and Tungabhadra is also not a perennial river like Ganga, it is like a typical rain flood river. So there was no consistent water supply. And so where was such a massive city like Hampi going to get the water from? Where was such a massive city like Hampi it had to get the water from somewhere? And that was one Deva Raya’s achievement.
He realised that because of the lack of water it was affecting the farming as well as the water supply to Vijayanagara. First thing what he did was across the Tungabhadra dam, he build a huge dam. He had the foresight to see that , you know storing the water, so he build a very huge dam across the Tungabhadra river and you know like bought elephants to transport the boulders, put them across the Tungabhadra river and build a barrage and that helps to store the water, it help to irrigate the fields. This was something pretty visionary in those time. Looking at storing water, conserving it. And like I told you can see the picture, like these were some of the canals that were in use. If you can see the picture there, these were some of the canals that were in use during Vijayanagara time that carried the water right into Hampi.
Other major problem was the drinking water now. Hampi was in very rocky location. Completely surrounded by boulders and all. Water had to be bought to Hampi. So to satisfy the needs of its people, he had to bring the water from the lakes and the rivers to Hampi. So he build a massive aqueduct I mean, most of these are in ruins, if you can see the picture down. Most of these aqueducts are in ruins. I mean we know about the Roman aqueducts and all that but unfortunately not much is said about the aqueducts build by the Vijayanagara Empire which were an equally impressive feat of engineering. So he build the aqueducts. Tungabhadra was around 24 kms away from Hampi. So he build those aqueducts like you have seen the picture that would bring water from the Tungabhadra River to Hampi, all the way along which was pretty much a great feat of engineering. Pretty much massive, impressive feat of engineering. Supplying water to an entire city, and mind you Hampi was not a small city, it was a massive city. Supplying water to this people in a region which didn’t have water supply which was completely rocky, that was a stupendous feat of engineering. Fine, and what he did was like this, during Deva Raya’s time Hampi emerged or Vijayanagara emerged as one of the largest cities in the world because of the regular water supplies to Hampi, Vijayanagara soon became a flourishing centre for trade and commerce because water was coming, people could concentrate on the trade and commerce and of course like it helped the farmers also. Fine.
So this is one major achievement of the Vijayanagara Empire. See, this is like one of the major smaller canals. This was like the canals inside the city which actually flowed from one home to other home. Outside, it was pretty larger canals. I don’t know the exact technical details of the dimensions. See basically this has the larger canals bringing water into the city and then split it into smaller canals like this. So it was a pretty much advanced kind of water supply system that was actually being build out here, as you can see here. Unfortunately again most of the canals and aqueducts are pretty much in ruins now. You can see some places like these here and there that’s all. Aqueduct is not exactly a canal. It is a canal but it carries water above the ground. The canal is like, it’s carrying along the ground. So the aqueduct is like the reason, the government aqueducts. You can say kind of pipelines. The reason why I tell you the aqueducts were built was, Hampi if you take, it’s built on an elevated location. So to bring the water from Tungabhadra River, these aqueducts are needed. The lifting water, they had a kind of gating system where the water would flow into one lock into another lock then lifting into the aqueducts.
I know I’m not that much aware of the technical details in that case. But there was that kind of gate locking system or the gating system where they use to send water from one chamber to another chamber and then putting it and lift it into the aqueduct and build it along. It was actually not just at Hampi you know, actually many places in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana now, they have many old lakes, many old lakes which are built by the Vijayanagara rulers. Especially in the surrounding areas, the area called as the Rayalseema area which is a pretty rocky area. It’s a pretty rocky and dry area. You have pretty of these huge tanks which are built by the rulers essentially for saving the water.
And apart from that Deva Raya was also a patron of literature, I told you about the Kannada poet. He also patronised a very great Telugu poet called as Srinatha, who was the author of Harivilasa. So this is the picture of Deva Raya felicitating Srinatha. So he was called as the Kavi Sarvabhauma. And he actually, during his time there was a Pearl Hall at Hampi, where all the scholars used to meet. Scholars, poets, writers all of them would meet at this Pearl Hall. So apart from the fact that Vijayanagara was becoming a centre for all the other kingdoms, it is also becoming a centre for all the artists, scholars, poets, painters, sculptures, all of them started moving to Vijayanagara. And it was also called as Vidyanagar during that time that is the City of Learning. So if you can see here, Vijayanagara was not just a massive kingdom it was also generating, it was also a civilisation on its own, creating its own culture, its own art, its own architecture which was a mix of every influences.
After Deva Raya was succeeded by Deva Raya II and again like in 1426 Dev Raya, he became the ruler and he captured the fort of Kondaveedu which is like located in Andhra Pradesh near Vijayawada. And again there was one more rivalry with the Gajapati rulers of Odisha, of Kalinga or Odisha, the Gajapati rulers. That was another constant rivalry that was facing that was primarily for the control of eastern coast. So, the three successors managed to defeat the Gajapatis and bought back the territories lost and also conquered most of Kerala, Ceylon was conquered during this time right up to Quilon and up till Calicut. So during this Deva Raya’s rule time, it also extended from Kalinga. Vijayanagara actually had maximum extend from Kalinga, to Malabar Ghats, Ceylon and the other thing is like, you know, it also meant that they had possession of the major ports of the Western Coast like Beykkal, Mangalore, Goa, all these forts were in the Vijayanagara rule because of that they had a trading advantage also. Because they had control over these ports. This was one area where the Bahmani sultans could never defeat them. The coast was one of their strong areas and because of that the trade was flouring for them. Fine.
Again I told you like there was the battle between the Bahamani like, Feroze Shah again attacked in the 1419 initially there was a pretty intense battle fought, where first the Vijayanagara forces counter attack and sent Feroze Shah retreating for the battle. But however Firuz’s brother Khan Khanan managed to ripple the forces back. And Feroze’s brother he ascended the throne in 1422. Again he fought the death of… loss of Panagal, he again attacked the Vijayanagara with a huge army, same tactics again on his way to attack Vijayanagara, same tactics of what Ahmed Shah did was mercilessly devastating the last destroying temples. It was the standard tactics by the Bahamani rulers. He was much like, in fact Ahamed Shah I he made a point that if in a place where like 20000 Hindus were massacred at a place, they made it a point to celebrate there. Ya. Idols were broken, Vedic Patshalas and many other different Brahman Patshalas, they were desecrated.
Obviously there was bound to be a backlash against this kind of (indistinctive) destruction. So around 5000 Hindus, what they did was they were enraged by what they saw as kind of destruction and desecration and they struck back, they struck back fiercely at Ahmed Shah I and he had to undergo a narrow escape again back. He had to give up the plans of Vijayanagara and after some time of course he again laid seize for some time, he laid a long seize and again Deva Raya was forced to sue for peace. So after some time Ahmed Shah came back to his son Aladdin, who again tried to conquer Vijayanagara. So here what was happening was like till then what was happening was though the battle between Vijayanagara and the Bahmani rules were going in a seesaw, sometime the Vijayanagara were winning, sometimes the Bahmanis were winning. But more often the Vijayanagara rules were facing constant defeats. Constant defeats, I mean massive defeats, they had to give large part of territory, wealth and all that.
So that was the time Deva Raya to try to come up with a strategy and how to counter this Bahmani rulers. One tactic which he did was, he took the Arabian horses. He founded that Arabian horses which they were using were much more faster. They did not get tired out easy. So because already they had control over the ports on the West Coast they started importing these Arabian horses to be used at the army. The second advantage is that the Bahmani forces actually had professional archers in their army which the Vijayanagara forces lacked. I mean they are pretty good at archery. This was the advantage or the disadvantage which Deva Raya try to overcome. So he actually, what he did was he took the decision to recruit Muslim archers into the army. Because that time, these Muslim archers in turn trained Hindu archers also. Ok Of course in retrospect ,in hindsight, if you go into later stages you could see that this was the kind of, it’s not a very wise decision, when you go into the later stages but may be due to the needs of time, may be due to compulsion, he need to take this kind of decision. It’s not exactly a wise decision but he had to take it. And in the short run, this move paid off and but right now, he had a pretty strong professional army with around 80,000 cavalry and infantry.
I mean in the meantime he had to face an assassination attempt by his own brother who tried to, I mean there is story where his brother calls him to his home to lunch and he tries to assassinate him and he escapes it narrowly and his brother get killed by those. So under again like a, but one thing we need to notice is in spite of the constant battle with the Bahamani rulers, Vijayanagara kept on growing, it did not diminish in strength. And they kept on growing be it in art and architecture, be it in literature, be it in trading, it did not diminish. They kept losing territories but the empire was actually getting richer and prosperous more day by day and they made great advances on architecture. They made great advances in literature.
Fine, here, two people were visited Vijayanagara during Deva Raya II. One was Nicolo Conti who was an Italian traveller, other one was a Persian traveller named Abdul Razzaq. Both of them gave pretty glowing description of the city in their books, in their accounts. Like I told you one of the major features of Vijayanagara then was like it had a pretty defence. There were large stone walls running around the city that kept out the invaders which nobody could actually break. This was the reason why Vijayanagara till the Battle of Talikota and nobody could actually break into the city. Because of its pretty strong defence. It was pretty impenetrable kind of defence out here. Like I told you which I showed you already, we had very elaborately constructed water canals that went right into the city. It irrigated the fields and also had pretty huge gardens. Ok? And like I told you Abdul Razzaq wrote a very glowing account of Vijayanagara calling it one of the greatest magnificent cities especially the seven walls around it, seven different walls around it. Ok? One of the features, the seven walls were there.
Outermost layer was somewhere close to Hospet. Hospet is basically the base from which anybody wanting to visit Hampi would get down at Hospet. That is where from most people would go to Hampi. So that was there, for the first layer of walls were there. Fine and basically the first, second and the third layer of walls were there. Fourth and fifth walls, were basically you had a place called Malapanagudi. Today this place has some of the pretty old buildings, if you go to Hampi you can see them. The sixth wall covered the Kamalapur Tank and apart from that you had pretty huge bazaars. Ok? And Vijayanagara was at its peak it was reportedly one of the richest kingdom where people actually used to openly sell pearls, diamonds, emeralds and rubies in the market. Like they use to actually like how, like how we have the Sabzi Mandi, they used to actually openly, they used to place those pearls openly for display and sell. It had a flourishing trade in precious stone. And the bazaars were pretty much famous for it. People used to come there, they use to buy pearls like how we generally buy vegetables now a days, they would come and buy those pearls and all. It was such a rich kingdom. Precious stones like diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
There was a Divan Khanah, where you know, the Diwan, who is the prime minister who listened to the problems and there was a Daftar Khanah, which was primarily sort of a government office. Ok? The government offices were there. They had a Mint, to the right of the palace and the Governor’s home. Ok? One major feature of Vijayanagara Empire was the Mahanavami celebrations. There were grand celebrations and festivals like Ugadi, Ugadi was celebrated well, Deepavali was celebrated well, Ganesh Puja was celebrated well. But the grandest celebration in Vijayanagara was Mahanavami. Because that was like believe that you know it was been founded on Vijayadashami day or something, or they have some special significance for it. So here, like you had elephants coming from all corners of the empire from different places to one place. So you can just imagine the scene, elephants all over the places, richly decorated and all and just for the sake of Mahanavami temples, like you had huge pavilions erected just for the sake of festival. Some going right up to seven storeys you can imagine the scale and grandeur. And then you had performances by dancing girls, performances by jugglers, you had feats by elephants and then you had fireworks, huge fireworks going up, you had different games, like wrestling, you had sword fighting, the entire festivities used to last for around 9 days. King used to sit on a throne which was made of gold, and completely adorned with different pearls, diamonds and rubies and from there he used to visit the Mahanavami celebrations. Deva Raya II himself had the sobriquet of what is called as the Gajaventekara meaning elephant hunter. Apart from bringing ruler he was also a poet. This was again one more feature of most Vijayanagara rulers, they were great writers also. Apart from that fact that all of are good warriors, they were great writers also. I mean he wrote a collection of stories in Kannada called as Sobagina Song, basically where the author is narrating to his wife. Ok.
Here what happened was like after Deva Raya died, which is primarily the end of Sangama dynasty, there was completely chaos and anarchy. I mean it was both in the Vijayanagara and Bahmani kingdoms both of them were undergoing a period of chaos and anarchy with battles of succession going around. I mean after Deva Raya died, like I told you there was no primary rule that the emperor’s next born should succeed in. It often resulted in conflicts breaking out for the throne. It was that it did not had the rule that only the son of the emperor should succeed in. Everybody would try for the, fight for the throne and which often resulted in all these dimensions and during this time, during this chaotic period, it was not just the Vijayanagara Empire, 1458 Aladdin Shah passed away and the Bahmani kingdom too started undergoing its own dissensions.
So, it was actually the two major kingdoms were in a total unstable period leading to complete chaos, complete anarchy everywhere. Ok? So, generally around this time, you had a person called Gawan, he played a vital role in recapturing the western coast and Goa. And as again massacre. So here what happened was the Bahmani Empire till then was pretty much a monolithic empire. Around this time, the Bahmani kingdom also broke up. Till then it was pretty much monolithic kingdom, it broke up into 5 different empires. So you had Yusuf Adil Khan, the governor of Bijapur, who founded the Adil Shahi kingdom of Bijapur, Qasim Barid was a prime minister under Muhammad Shah. He founded the Barid Shah kingdom at the Bidar, Imad Ul Mulk, founded the Imad Shahi Kingdom at Bidar in Maharashtra, Malik Ahmed Shah Bakri who was the governor, who established the Nizam Shahi dynasty at Ahmednagar and Quli Qutub Shah, at 1518, he established the Qutb Shahi Kingdom in Golconda. So till then the monolithic Bahmani kingdom was there that also broke up into 5 different kingdoms, Bijapur, Ahmednagar, Golconda, Bidar and Birar. Of these 5 kingdoms Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda were the most stronger ones, Bidar and Birar we relatively minor. Fine.
Around this time what was happening was in the constant conflict between the Bahmani and the Vijayanagara rulers, you had a third factor added into the picture that is the Portuguese. I mean till then it was the Bahmanis and the Vijayanagara rulers who are the two main players there and then in 1497 you had Vasco da Gama coming to India with 3 ships and who met the Zamorin of Calicut over here. And initially there was conflict between Vasco Da Gama and the native Zamorin rulers of Kerala and in 1505 the other Portuguese ruler Almeida coming as the viceroy. He realised that Portuguese interest lay, instead of constant wars it was better to have a kind of trading in India. Ok? So around this time you had this Italian traveller Varthema who visited Vijayanagara he wrote a glowing account of here and there were again constant battles between the Portuguese and primarily the Calicut Zamorins and we have one in 1505 and the other in 1506. The reason why I brought up the Portuguese is Vijayanagara Empire had a very strategic tie up with the Portuguese against the Bahmani rulers, the third player in the picture.
So, and that leads us to the main ruler that is Sri Krishna Deva Raya. And every major kingdom has one great ruler, Marathas you take Shivaji, If you take Guptas Samudra Gupta, Chandra Gupta. So similarly, for Vijayanagara Empire it was Sri Krishna Deva Raya. I mean after the Sangama rulers you had Thuluva and Saluva dynasty unfortunately because of time constraint, I’ve to skip that. So Sri Krishna Deva Raya belonged to the Thuluva dynasty and he came to the throne in 1505. Basically it is generally believed to be Krishnashtami day and he proved to be the mightiest emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire. He had a pretty huge, strong muscular personality which, he used to exercise regularly and also as a warrior he used to personally lead from the front it was not he used to fight in back. Every time there is a war he used to go directly from the front. Krishna Deva Raya was the one who came up with this tactical partnership with Albuquerque, who was the governor of Goa. Because he realised that they could be a front against Bahmani rulers. So he came up with tactical partnership with the Portuguese out here and the two advantage he got from the partnership with Portuguese, one was getting all the Arabian Persian horses, other one was the Portuguese supplied the artillery. Bahmanis had good artillery, the Vijayanagara empire again, their one area where they were lacking. So tying up with the Portuguese, they got hold of the artillery which would be a very vital factor for them in the battles in the future. Ok? And apart from the artillery, the Portuguese also helped in building these aqueducts and canal networks.
Portuguese again played a major role in you know, strengthening all those aqueducts and canal networks in Vijayanagara. Here, what Krishna Deva Raya did was, the first challenge he had was from the Gajapati rulers of Odisha. So he first took his expedition against the Gajapati ruler, the first fort which he attacked was Udayagiri which you can see on the topmost corner. All these forts were actually most of them are situated on hills, surrounded by thick fortress it was not very easy to penetrate them. So the first fort he attacked was Udayagiri, it was a very long an 18 month long siege .As you can see, the fort is not easy to capture, it’s on hill, thick forest around very steep ascend. So he made a very long siege, managed to find a secret entrance into the fort and capture it and after capturing the Udayagiri he visited the Thirupathi temple, any of you been to Venkateshwara temple at Thirumala, those three statues were built in his honour. That is Krishna Deva Raya and his two wives. That picture is there in the Venkateshwara temple, in Thirupati. After that he captured another, two other hill forts that is Kondaveedu and Kondapalli also and that he made a huge defeat to the Gajapati rulers and there were two things here, the Gajapati ruler Prataparudra gave his daughter in marriage to Krishna Deva Raya and it also bought an end to the conflict between Gajpati rulers. So they became a kind of allies with the Vijayanagara rulers then. Ok?
The other important achievement of Sri Krishna Deva Raya, the Bahmani rulers. Till date what was happening was, there was constant conflict between the Vijayanagara and the Bahmani rulers, where neither side actually gaining a full victory. Sometimes they won, sometimes this won completely resulting in total devastation. Sri Krishna Deva Raya decided, fine not this way, give a decisive defeat to all the Bahmani rulers so that they will never attack again. So he decided, I mean he made a decision that Bahmani army they regularly use to make all these loot and raid tactics. Raid, loot get back the wealth. He decided to put an end to this forever. So first he went after Yusuf Adil Shah, the Bijapur ruler. At the battle of Diwani, he decisively defeated Adil Shah in such a way, he also used to do one thing. When he used to defeat somebody, he used to take it till the end. There is no capturing. So he pursued Yusuf Adil Shah till the end, cornered him, shot him down with arrows. His mission was exterminate them in such a way that they will never get the strength to hit back again. So Yusuf Adil Shah was defeated, so Bijapur was subdued. Bidar was defeated. He freed Mahmud Shah, the ruler of Bijapur put him to the throne and Krishna Deva Raya had a very able Prime minister called Timmarusu. So he defeated Quli Qutub Shah of Golconda, he brought back most of the territories.
So he inflicted such decisive defeats of the Bahmani Sultans that for some time, till he passed away none of them dared to attack Vijayanagara again. That was his major achievement. I mean actually he put a complete stop to the Bahmani raids. He put a complete stop to the raids that they never dare to attack Vijayanagara till he was alive. He was such fiery aspire. He inflicted such crushing defeats on them. And like I told this been was called as the golden age of Telugu literature. Now, Krishna Deva Raya was a writer himself. Apart from being great warrior, great ruler, he was a great writer also. So he himself was called as Andhra Bhoja for his fluency in writing and he was fluent in three languages, Telugu, Kannada and Thuluva, which was his native language. And he was named as Narasimha Krishna Deva Raya, I mean one of the titles he got was Narasimha Krishna Deva Raya. I mean this poet described him as the name of Narasimha Krishna Deva Raya at whose name the Turks quivered and the elephants ran away. He patronised the Madhava Scholar Vyasatirtha who was like one of the trinity of the Dvaita Vedanta philosophy and Vyasatirtha was Krishna Deva Raya’s Raja guru as well as the Kuladevata who used to advise him on all the matters, both related to kingdom as well preacher one.
Krishna Deva Raya, apart from himself, he patronised some of the famous writes like Kannada writers like Mallanarya of Gubbi, other one was Chattu Vitalanatha. See, he himself was a very renowned writer. So this temple which you have seen is in a place called Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. It’s believed that Sri Krishna Deva Raya one day on his expedition, he rested at this temple. The deity in this temple is called as Andhra Maha Vishnu, I mean he is believed to be a very powerful king, incarnation of Vishnu was a very powerful king. There is a kind of tale that goes, while Krishna Deva Raya was resting at this temple, he had a dream were Andhra Maha Vishnu came to him in the dream and told him to write in Telugu. He told him to write in Telugu in the dream. And that was when he started writing. I mean he wrote a book called, this is the study of Sri Krishna Deva Raya in that temple here in commemoration. So he wrote this book called as Amukta Malyada. Basically this is the story of Aandal and Vishnu. It is considered as one of the magnum opus, it is considered as one of the great works of Telugu literature.
The other feature of Krishna deva Raya’s court was Ashta Diggajas. Ashta Diggajas are 8 elephants. I mean there is belief that you know there are 8 elephants which actually hold the earth in different directions. Like I told you the names Pundareeka, Vamana, Anjana, and of course Airavat, the elephant of Indra. These 8 great poets in Krishna Deva Raya’s court, they were called as the Ashta Diggajas. And of course each of them had their own Indian styles. One of the most famous poets were Allasani Peddana, who was called as Andhra Kavita Pitamaha. I mean the patriarch of Telugu poetry. His famous work is Manu Charitra. There is a picture of Sri Krishna Deva Raya and Allasani Peddana. Krishna Deva Raya in fact reward Allasani Peddana to, such a large extend, that you know he often take that golden bracelet. That golden bracelet he himself would bend and put it around his leg. And there were times he himself would carry the Palanquin which he was carrying. That was the reverence which he had for Allasani Peddana. The senior most of all the 8 poets.
The other poet he had was Nandi Timmana who hailed from Anantapur district. He was also called as Mukku Timmana because he wrote a lot of series of Mukku, Mukku in Telugu means nose. So he wrote a series of couplets of poets on that. So, the reason why he was nick named as Mukku Timmana and one of his famous works was Parijatapaharanam which is dealing with the story of Satyabhama’s Parijatham plant along with Krishna from the heavens, that story.
The other one is Madayyagari Mallana and he wrote a famous book called Rajasekhara Charithram, which is based on the legendary ruler of Avanti kingdom. Other one was Dhurjati Kavi who basically wrote most of books in praise of Shiva. This famous one was Srikalahasti Mahatyam a very famous temple town in Andhra Pradesh. Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra who was called as Pillala Ramabhadrudu. The other one was Pingali Surana, he wrote a very famous book called Kalapurnodayam where first time he made use of techniques like flash backs and Ramarajabhushanudu, who was apart from being very famous poet was also a pretty great musician too. He played the veena and, of course, Tenali Ramakrishna which I think most of you would be familiar. Of course, while most of us are familiar with Tenali Ramakrishna as gesture or something, he was also a great author too. He wrote the Panduranga Mahatyam, basically the story of Pundarika and Vittala, Vithoba in Maharashtra and that is considered as one of the Panchamahakavya, what is the five great works in Telugu literature.
So, these Ashta Diggajas were the ones who adorned Sri Krishna Deva Raya’s court and they used to daily meet in a session that they called as Bhuvanavijayam. Bhuvanavijayam means sending victory over the earth. Even now they keep holding recreations of this Bhuvanavijayam there, you know, these poets meet and they come up with the poetry. Basically, the poets would meet, they would come up with debates, you know, debates with each other.
Let’s come to the other part the architecture part. The Vijayanagara Empire, I told you, it was founded by different styles like you have the Hoysala style, the Pandya style and the Chola styles. What you call is, the Vijayanagara architecture was developed in its own distinct style. It was actually a mix and match of different styles- Chola, Pandya, Chalukya style and because it was located in a very rocky area, there was heavy usage of granite, in this one. And most of the temples if you can see here, basically they had a Garbhagriha, what you call the sanctum sanctorum and then you had a porch like outside and somewhat larger temples or medium sized temple apart from that they had a chamber called Sukanashi or a corridor which is connecting the Garbhagriha with the outermost mandapa.
Apart from that they also had a Ranga mandapa which was basically a huge hall which was used for dances and meetings. And one feature of these temples was the Raya Gopuram, if you can see here. A very common feature of most of the temples built during the Vijayanagara time was called as the Raya Gopuram. Because they are usually built by the rulers of Vijayanagara, so they used to call them Raya Gopuram. You can notice the Gopuram, they are pretty huge, you can see it from miles around and they are richly decorated. Different statues of gods, goddesses and other men and women. And of course you had the Pradakshina Patha for the devotees to go around and the pillars are what they call as Yal Is. You can take a look the bottom most part. If you can take a look at the bottom most left corner. Yal Is were basically sort of you know horses, with their legs lifted.
So, this was another very common feature of the Vijayanagara School of architecture. The other one was the mandapas which you can see to the top left corner, basically built on square plinths with different friezes and entrances on all sides. Another common feature of most of the Vijayanagara temples were the Pushkarnis which are basically tanks, stepped tanks, which are having the water. You know pretty symmetrical formation. So you can see that a very advanced architecture even now if you go to Hampi most of it is in ruins, you can see the sort of brilliance that they had in the architecture. And the palaces which they had in Vijayanagara, they had a very intricate system, they had door passages leading into each other and sort of secret passages way, larger palaces had pretty side extensions and they also had water tanks with highly decorative spouts basically elephants or Yali sculptures and two famous sculptures from the Vijayanagara, one is the huge Ganesha, what is a (indistinctive) Ganesha, which is at Hampi, the other one is the huge Nandi at Lepakshi, one of the very large Nandi. These two are very famous motifs of the Vijayanagara out here.
Like I told you, all good things have to come to an end. So, one of the greatest and the richest empire in the world, someday it had to fall. That was when the end was coming, which is actually one of the saddest part. After close to 4 centuries any greater king or emperor in the world has to collapse someday or the other it has to decline or fall down. The difference is Vijayanagara Empire’s collapse was sudden. Generally what happens most kingdoms slowly fall into decay. Vijayanagara Empire was not like that, it was a sudden blow, sudden death blow. It kind of blow that actually shattered it and that actually makes it much more tragic. See, when Vijayanagara empire fell, it was still one of the largest empire in the South. Typically empires when they fall, when they lose their territories, weaker rulers. But Vijayanagara when it fell, it was still the largest empire in the south. It still had a pretty huge army, it had a very thriving thread, it’s still one of the richest empire in the south. Hampi was still one of the largest cities, such a large city that it ended at looted after the battle of Talikota, it took 4 days to completely burn it down. So you just imagine. It took 4 days to completely burn down Hampi. So you can just imagine such a large city. Even then the city could not be fully destroyed. In spite of the destruction, they still managed to survive. Ok?
Why did such a huge and massive empire collapse so quick? Under Krishna Deva Raya, Vijayanagara Empire reached its peak, zenith. He took it to the heights of glory, like nobody else could. After he passed away, however there was, he did not have an immediate heir. So his younger brother Achyuta Deva Raya became the ruler. Unfortunately he was not as powerful or strong as his brother. And here what happened was, the power lay with a person called Aliya Rama Raya who was Krishna Deva Raya’s son in law. He was the power behind the throne.
So he was the one who was controlling Achyuta Rama Raya. So here what was happening was, now, once Krishna Deva Raya passed away, the Bahmani Sultans again gained confidence. Till then they were lying low. Till then they did not want to attack Vijayanagara. He passed away, they again got back their confidence. What happened was first you had the Bijapur rulers who were like they were the ones who first started attacking him. They were the ones who suffered heavier defeats under Krishna Deva Raya. So they first attacked it. And after this what happened was with Vijayanagara Empire itself in a chaotic situation, Portuguese began to assert their supremacy on the West Coast. So both ends on, one side the Bahmanis, one side the Portuguese, on both ends Vijayanagara empire was facing attack from both ends. Ok? And the Portuguese apart from that of course, they were pretty notorious for their atrocities just like the Spanish invasion something like the Portuguese invasion in Goa; as notorious as a Spanish invasion. They forcibly converted many to Christianity. Many native Hindus and Muslims were captured and tortured to death, that’s a different topic altogether. But that happened around during this time.
So here what was happening was, Aliya Rama Raya, what he did was, he imprisoned Achyuta Raya on his return from Bijapur. Aliya Rama Raya what he used to do was, he founded two things. He would to take the help of the Bahmani Sultans in his own personal battles. That was bad enough, even worse what he did was he used to constantly play one Bahmani Sultan against the other Bahmani Sultan. So what happened was like I told you, you had 5 different Bahmani kingdoms, like Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmednagar and these kingdoms used to keep constantly fighting amongst each other. What Aliya Rama Raya used to do was, he used to support one Bahmani Sultan against the other Bahmani Sultan, for his own tactical purposes which in hindsight proved pretty disastrous and apart from that what Rama Raya did was he started promoting his own family members and which made most of the nobles turn around him.
So here with the constant fighting going on in Vijayanagara Empire taking the help of the Bahmani empires, I mean the worst thing is that they took the help of their own Bahmani Empire in order to settle their personal against each other. You know it was like, you could see it coming. It was something to see the destruction coming into the picture. So here what Rama Raya did was he would sign a peace treaty with Bahmani Sultan, he would again go and attack them. Ok? or he would put one Bahmani ruler against other Bahmani ruler, which sort of used to annoy all the Bahmani sultans. So what this Bahmani, and like here what happened was sooner or later something had to give.
The Bahmani rulers realised their constant fighting against each other was going to be beneficial to the Vijayanagara Empire. They realised the other thing also. On their own they could not defeat the Vijayanagara Empire. On their own, none of them could defeat the Vijayanagara Empire. So, they decided to form the alliances. And that lead to the down fall. So here what he did was Adil shah, the Bijapur ruler, he negotiated with Qutub Shah, the ruler of Golconda. So what Qutub Shah, he did was he negotiated with Adil Shah and Hussain Shah. Mind you, Hussain Shah and Adil Shah were bitter rivals. But they still agreed to ally together for a common purpose that was against Vijayanagara. So the three main kingdoms, Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmednagar, three main kingdoms came together, found a common friend to defeat the Vijayanagara empire. And of course, they took the help of Bidar and Berar.
So, the five kingdoms alliance against Vijayanagara. The first time in life ever they fighting came together. And they met at a place called Talikota, which is lying currently in the Bijapur district. So here again, the second thing, Bahmani rulers were busy they were planning their strategies, they sending spies and all that. Aliya Rama Raya took it for granted. They were just relaxing. I mean, they felt that these people attacked us so many times, what can they do to us? So they took it for granted and nothing is going to happen. They were pretty indifferent and I mean that took it to him. So, like Rama Raya what he did was though he got reports enemy movements were coming towards Vijayanagara, he just dismissed them saying that nothing is going to happen, they attacked us so many times, what will they do? And that was going to be a disaster. Nevertheless, he put his brother Tirumala Raya in control of the Krishna River, to ensure the Bahmanis were blocked.
What the Bahmanis did was they saw that the Vijayanagara army was blocking the Krishna River at one point. So they deliberately tricked them to believe that they were attacking from some other point. So, the Vijayanagara army fell for the trick, they went to that particular point where they thought the Bahmanis would attack and what this Bahmani ruler did was they crossed that particular point.
And then January 23, 1565 the Battle of Talikota bought an end to Vijayanagara Empire. So, on one side you had the Vijayanagara forces and the other side five front, the Bahmani forces which consists of Bijapur, Ahmednagar, Golconda and Bidar and Berar. At the back forces three layers of artillery, I mean they were pretty much equipped at artillery. So actually, for initially for some time the Vijayanagara forces initially were under heavy fire. But after sometime what happen was Venkatadri Raya the brother roof Aliya Rama Raya, he attacked the Bahmani forces heavily. Rama Raya, in spite he was pretty much old he was almost in his 70s in spite of that he still fought bravely against Bahmani rulers.
Unfortunately, this is why I told that getting the Muslim archers in the army was going to be a disaster it happened here. There was a couple of contingent of Muslim officers. They switch sides. Just at the crucial point in battle they switch sides. That’s why I told you before, getting Muslim archers in the army was like good in the short term and long run its going to be a disaster, and it was proved here. So what happened was the entire contingent of Muslim forces, they switched sides to the Bahmani forces, 5000 members of the Vijayanagara army was surrounded and killed and it was over.
Rama Raya himself was struck by a cannon shot. I mean the elephant was stuck, he fell own and he was taken as prisoner. So a very tragic ending. He was taken to Nizam Shah. So, he was given a choice of whether converting to Islam or not. Rama Raya refuse to convert and he was beheaded. The man who beheaded him was Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah, another irony here. Quli Qutub Shah had a bitter succession battle with his brother. So he escaped from Golconda and when he came, he took refuge in Vijayanagara, the person who gave refuge to him was Rama Raya himself. But when it came to the final reckoning he was the one who beheaded. I mean very bitter and tragic irony. For there was one. And with the death of Rama Raya, the Vijayanagara forces became demoralised. They retreated from the battle field and soon it became a total rout.
So, it was apparent that Hampi would be falling. So what Thirumala Raya did was, he took the royal treasure on 1500 elephants and he carried that to a place called Penukonda its in Anantapur district, the second capital and most of the soldiers and chieftains abandoned Hampi. But even then also people felt that nothing would be happening to Hampi. So out of the three days, the date on which the Bahmani forces entered Vijayanagara, just see the irony of it- January 26th and after 3 days they entered it, soon the destruction started. One of the greatest empires in the world, temples and the buildings were broken, its treasures were looted, people were captured, prisoners were taken, there were endless massacre.
For three to four days, the entire Hampi was ransacked, burnt, looted, blazed. After that it never rose again. So one of the greatest empires in the world, greatest empires in the civilisation in the world, came to an end in such a brutal and tragic manner. I would say one thing, Jews have something, they have a motto. They call it Roman Masada, where largely stand where all of them committed suicide rather than surrender. Something I say always you know, I say remember Talikota. It’s one thing that not many people actually know what happened at Talikota. But if you know it, this is something that never to be forgotten forwarded. It was like, we can see what happened to one of the richest and greatest empires in the world, how it fell, how it was destroyed and raised and after that the Vijayanagara Empire was not the same. It was like totally broken up, that was the end of the empire.