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The Vijayanagara Empire            [1336 AD - 1565 AD]

 

Harihara and Bukka, two brothers from Warangal, whom the Sultan Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq had taken captive, were converted to Islam, and were commissioned to consolidate his rule in Kampila. When the Sultan became weak, they renounced Islam and conquered the territory of the Hoysalas. They founded the Vijayanagara Empire along the river Tungabhadra, in 1336 with the capital Hastinavati (modern Hampi). This Empire protected south India from any further muslim depredation and brought a Golden Era in south India.

Bukka succeeded Harihara in 1356 AD and ruled till 1377 AD. The rising power of the empire brought it into clash with many powers both in the north and in the south. In the south they had to fight with the Sultan of Madurai for about four decades, till they wiped it out in 1377 AD. In the north the Bahamanis were their strong enemies.

The interest of the Vijayanagara and Bahamani empires clashed on three areas : The Tungabhadra doab (for wealth and resources), the Krishna-Godavari delta (which was fertile and had numerous ports for foreign trade) and control of Konkan (extremely fertile and included the port of Goa, which was an important outlet in the west). The clash was also raged for the control of diamond mines of Golconda. Military conflict between these kingdoms were almost regular and resulted in the widespread devastation of the contested areas and neighbouring territories and a considerable loss to life and property. Both committed various barbarities. Finally both sides were exhausted and decided to conclude treaty and agreed to avoid cruelty in war.

 

After the death of Deva Raya II in 1446 AD, there was a series of civil wars among the various contenders to the throne. After some time, the throne was usurped by the king's minister, Saluva, who restored the internal law and order. This dynasty also soon ended and a new Tuluva dynasty was founded by Krishnadeva Raya (1509 AD - 1530 AD). Under him the empire emerged as the strongest military power in the south. After his death there was a struggle among his relations as his sons were all minor. Ultimately in 1543, Sadashiva Raya ascended the throne and ruled till 1567, however the real power was in the hand of Rama Raja, who played off the various muslim powers against one another.

In a series of wars Rama Raja completely defeated the Bijapur ruler to inflict humiliating defeats on Golconda and Ahmadnagar. It seems Rama Raja had no larger purpose than to maintain a balance of power favourable to Vijayanagara. The five broken Bahamani kingdoms, did a combined crusade on Vijayanagara at Bannihatti in 1565 and in the battle of Rakshasa-Tangadi, Rama Raja was surrounded, taken prisoner and immediately executed and this brought an end to the Best Empire of the South. It was thoroughly looted and left in ruins.

The economy continued to grow on the Chola pattern and Hinduism was restored. Architecture and culture reached their pinnacle and saw the Golden Era in the south under Krishna Deva Raya. At its peak, the kingdom extended from Cuttack in east to Goa in the West and from Raichur Doab in the North to the Indian Ocean in the South. He wrote Amuktamalyada, a Telugu compendium on polity.