Vijayanagara empire


    In Context 

    Salman Rushdie’s latest work, “Victory City” is a fictionalised telling of the story of Vijayanagara, one of the richest and most powerful kingdoms in medieval India.

    About Vijayanagara 

    • Vijayanagara: It is a district in the Indian state of Karnataka, located in the Kalyana Karnataka region. 
      • This district was carved out of Bellary district in 2020 to become the 31st district of the state with Hosapete as district headquarters.

    About Vijayanagara empire 

    • It was based in the Deccan, in peninsular and southern India, from 1336 onwards.
      • It is named after its capital city (now ruined) of Vijayanagara, in modern Karnataka, India. 
    •  It was founded by Harihara, also known as Hakka, and his brother Bukka Raya of the Sangama dynasty
    • 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.
    • It expanded from a strategic position on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. By the 15th century, it had become a force to reckon with.
    • The empire served as a bulwark against invasion from the Turkic Sultanates of the Indo-Gangetic Plain; and remained in constant competition and conflict with the five Deccan Sultanates that established themselves in the Deccan to the north of it.

    Characteristics and Timeline 

    • 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( 1509-1529 ) of the Saluva Dynasty.
      • He enjoyed military superiority over its rival kingdoms such as the Bahmani Sultanate, the Golconda Sultanate, and the Gajapatis of Odisha.
        • He conquered or subjugated territories on the east of the Deccan that belonged previously to Orissa. 
    • He was followed by Achyuta Raya in 1530
    • In 1542, Achyuta was succeeded by Sada Siva Raya
      • But the real power lay with 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. 
      • Rama Raya was killed in the Battle of Tallikot and his head (the real head) annually covered with oil and red pigment has been exhibited to the pious Mahomedans of Ahmudnuggur till 1829.
      •  With this, the last significant Hindu kingdom in the Deccan came to an end. 
    • Tirumala Raya the sole survivor left Vijayanagar with treasure on the back of 550 elephants to Penukonda.

    Dynasties and Rulers

    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
    • Mallikarjuna 1452-1465
    • Rajasekhara 1468-1469
    • Virupaksha I 1470-1471

    Saluva Dynasty

    • Narasimha 
    • Narasa (Vira Narasimha)
    • Krishna Deva
    • Achyuta 
    • 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



    • The economy of the kingdom was largely dependent on agriculture, and trade thrived in its many ports on either coast. 
    • The empire’s principal exports were pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, myrobalan, tamarind timber, ana fistula, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, musk, ambergris, rhubarb, aloe, cotton cloth, and porcelain.
    • Abd al-Razzaq Samarqand chronicled the high degree of monetisation in the Vijayanagara kingdom.
    •  In his classic History of South India, K A Nilakanta Sastri wrote that coins were minted by the state as well as by merchant guilds using gold, silver, copper, and brass, and their value depended on material weight.

    Contributions to culture and architecture.

    • Vijayanagara has been remembered as an era of “cultural conservatism”, when classical forms of Hinduism were preserved amidst the growing Islamization of the rest of the subcontinent, especially the North.
    • Literature in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, as well as Sanskrit, was produced in the kingdom, with new writing styles and methods emerging.
    • In architecture, Vijayanagara saw various enduring constructions. According to art historian Percy Brown, Vijayanagara architecture is “a vibrant combination and blossoming of the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya, and Chola styles, idioms that prospered in previous centuries.”
      • The Prasanna Virupaksha temple of Bukka I and many of the great monuments of the empire date from Krishna Deva Raya’s time. 
    • Among these are the Hazara Rama temple, the Krishna temple, and the Ugra Narasimha idol, all at Vijayanagara. 
    • They are striking examples of Vijayanagara’s characteristic style and intricate artistry
    • Vijayanagara’s capital Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, known for its sophisticated fortifications as well as innumerable temples and other architectural marvels

    Source: IE