Vijayanagara Empire

From Academic Kids

The Vijayanagara empire was based in the Deccan, in peninsular and southern India, from 1336 onwards. It was founded by Harihara, also known as Hakka, and his brother Bukka Raya. It is named after its capital city (now ruined) of Vijayanagara, in modern Karnataka, India. It lasted from about 1336 to perhaps about 1660, though throughout its last century it was in a slow decline due to a massive and catastrophic defeat at the hands of an alliance of the sultanates, and the capital was taken and brutally razed and looted. Its foundation, and even great part of its history, is obscure; but its power and wealth are attested by more than one European traveller, such as the Portuguese travelers, Domingo Paes, and Nuniz.



The founding of the original kingdom was based on the principality of Anegondi, based on a fortified town on the Tungabhadra river in the Deccan. In the century preceding the founding of the empire, the old kingdoms of the Deccan had been overrun by Muslim invaders from the north. From 1309, Malik Kafur reached and captured Warangal, later on reaching the Malabar kingdoms. Mubarak of Delhi reached Warangal again in 1323. Between 1334 and 1336, Muhammad Tughlaq of Delhi again overran the region, capturing Anegondi. According to one account, he made Harihara, son of Sangama, who was previously a notable or a minister of Anegondi, his governor there. Harihara, who may also be called Deva Raya, was the first emperor of the Vijayanagara empire.

As Muhammud Tughlaq's rule ended amidst revolts against him by his Muslim subjects in the Deccan, the area ruled by Harihara expanded greatly and quickly. The city of Vijayanagara was established by about 1340 on the bank of the Tungabhadra opposite Anegondi.

Harihara was succeeded, probably around 1343, by his brother, Bukka Raya, who ruled till about 1379. By the end of Bukka's reign, most of southern India to the south of the Tungabhadra had accepted his suzerainity.

The empire at its peak

In the following two centuries, the Vijayanagar empire dominated all of southern India, and was probably stronger than any other power in the Indian subcontinent. The empire during that period served as a bulwark against invasion from the Turkic Sultanates of the [Indo-Gangetic Plain]]; and remained in constant competition and conflict with the the five Deccan Sultanates that established themselves in the Deccan to the north of it. It remained a land power.

In about 1510, Goa, which had been under the rule of the Sultan of Bijapur, was captured by the Portuguese, possibly with the approval or connivance of Vijayanagara. Commerce between the Portuguese and Vijayanagara became very important to both sides.

The empire is generally considered to have reached its peak during the rule of Krishna Deva Raya. Krishna conquered or subjugated territorise on the east of the Deccan that belonged previously to Orissa. Many of the great monuments of the empire date from his time. Among these are the Hazara Rama temple, the Krishna temple and the Ugra Narasimha idol, all at Vijayanagara.

He was followed by Achyuta Raya in 1530. In 1542, Achyuta was succeeded by Rama (of the third dynasty), who seems to have made a point of unnecessarily provoking the Deccan sultanates, so that eventually they allied against him. In 1565, at the battle of Talikota, the army of Vijayanagara was routed by an alliance of the Deccan sultanates. Their united armies proceeded to raze the capital virtually to the ground. The Raya fled south to Penukonda.

Vijayanagara is considered by many today, especially in the state of Andhra Pradesh, to have been a golden age of culture and learning.

The decline

While the empire still continued to have some power, and commanded respect, it went into a considerable decline. The rulers of this period are difficult to place clearly. It is known however that they continued to trade with the Portuguese, and that they gave the British the land grant that enabled the establishment of Madras.

Dynasties and rulers

This list is based on the book by Robert Sewell (A Forgotten Empire).

Sangama Dynasty

  • Harihara I (Deva Raya) 1336-1343
  • Bukka I 1343-1379
  • Harihara II 1379-1399
  • Bukka II 1399-1406
  • Deva Raya I 1406-1412
  • Vira Vijaya 1412-1419
  • Deva Raya II 1419-1444
  • (unknown) 1444-1449
  • Mallikarjuna 1452-1465 (Dates uncertain)
  • Rajasekhara 1468-1469 (Dates uncertain)
  • Virupaksha I 1470-1471 (Dates uncertain)
  • Praudha Deva Raya 1476-? (Dates uncertain)
  • Rajasekhara 1479-1480 (Dates uncertain)
  • Virupaksha II 1483-1484 (Dates uncertain)
  • Rajasekhara 1486-1487 (Dates uncertain)

Saluva Dynasty

  • Narasimha 1490-?
  • Narasa (Vira Narasimha) ?-1509
  • Krishna Deva 1509-1530
  • Achyuta 1530-1542
  • Sadasiva (in name only) 1542-1567

Tuluva dynasty

  • Rama (ruled in practice) 1542-1565
  • Tirumala (ruled in practice) 1565-1567
  • Tirumala (crowned ruler) 1567-1575
  • Ranga II 1575-1586
  • Venkata I 1586-1614

Aravidu (dates uncertain, this information is based only on inscriptions), includes rulers by the names below. There is certainly more than one ruler under each name. The period extends from 1614 onward, till the last known reference in 1739.

  • Ranga
  • Venkata
  • Rama

The last known inscription referring to a monarch of his line is from 1793.

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