Vijayanagara Empire

From New World Encyclopedia
ವಿಜಯನಗರ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯ / విజయనగర సామ్రాజ్యము
Vijayanagara Empire
1336 – 1646
Location of Vijayanagara Empire
Extent of Vijayanagara Empire, 1446, 1520 C.E.
Capital Vijayanagara
Language(s) Kannada, Telugu
Religion Hindu
 - 1336–1356 Harihara Raya I
 - 1642–1646 Sriranga III
 - Established 1336
 - Earliest records 1343
 - Disestablished 1646
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Hoysala Empire
Blank.png Kakatiya dynasty
Blank.png Pandya Kingdom
Mysore Kingdom Flag of Mysore.svg
Keladi Nayaka Blank.png
Nayaks of Tanjore Blank.png
Nayaks of Madurai Blank.png
Nayakas of Chitradurga Blank.png

The Vijayanagara Empire (Kannada: ವಿಜಯನಗರ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯ, Telugu: విజయనగర సామ్రాజ్యము) existed as a South Indian empire based in the Deccan. Established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I, it lasted until 1646 although its power declined after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan sultanates. The empire, named after its capital city of Vijayanagara, has impressive ruins surrounding modern Hampi, declared a World Heritage Site in modern Karnataka, India. The writings of medieval European travelers such as Domingo Paes, Fernao Nuniz and Niccolò Da Conti and the literature in local vernaculars provide crucial information about its history. Archaeological excavations at Vijayanagara have revealed the empire's power and wealth.

The empire's legacy includes many monuments spread over South India, the best known being the group at Hampi. The previous temple building traditions in South India came together in the Vijayanagara Architecture style. The mingling of all faiths and vernaculars inspired architectural innovation of Hindu temple construction, first in the Deccan and later in the Dravidian idioms using the local granite. Secular royal structures show the influence of the Northern Deccan Sultanate architecture. Efficient administration and vigorous overseas trade brought new technologies like water management systems for irrigation. The empire's patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in the languages of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form. The Vijayanagara Empire created an epoch in South Indian history that transcended regionalism by promoting Hinduism as a unifying factor.

Vijayanagara Empire
Sangama Dynasty
Harihara Raya I 1336-1356
Bukka Raya I 1356-1377
Harihara Raya II 1377-1404
Virupaksha Raya 1404-1405
Bukka Raya II 1405-1406
Deva Raya I 1406-1422
Ramachandra Raya 1422
Vira Vijaya Bukka Raya 1422-1424
Deva Raya II 1424-1446
Mallikarjuna Raya 1446-1465
Virupaksha Raya II 1465-1485
Praudha Raya 1485
Saluva Dynasty
Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya 1485-1491
Thimma Bhupala 1491
Narasimha Raya II 1491-1505
Tuluva Dynasty
Tuluva Narasa Nayaka 1491-1503
Viranarasimha Raya 1503-1509
Krishna Deva Raya 1509-1529
Achyuta Deva Raya 1529-1542
Sadashiva Raya 1542-1570
Aravidu Dynasty
Aliya Rama Raya 1542-1565
Tirumala Deva Raya 1565-1572
Sriranga I 1572-1586
Venkata II 1586-1614
Sriranga II 1614-1614
Ramadeva 1617-1632
Venkata III 1632-1642
Sriranga III 1642-1646


Differing theories have been proposed regarding the Vijayanagara empire's origins. Some claim that Harihara I and Bukka Raya I, the founders of the empire, belonged to the Telugu people first associated with the Kakatiya kingdom who took control of the northern parts of the Hoysala Empire during its decline.[1] Other historians propose they belonged to the Kannadigas and commanders in the army of the Hoysala Empire stationed in the Tungabhadra region to ward off Muslim invasions from the Northern India.[2][3][4][5] Irrespective of their origin, historians agree the founders were supported and inspired by Vidyaranya, a saint at the Sringeri monastery to fight the Muslim invasion of South India.[6][7] Writings by foreign travelers during the late medieval era combined with recent excavations in the Vijayanagara principality have uncovered much-needed information about the empire's history, fortifications, scientific developments and architectural innovations.[8][9]

Before the early fourteenth century rise of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Hindu kingdoms of the Deccan, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiya dynasty of Warangal, the Pandya Kingdom of Madurai, and the tiny kingdom of Kampili had been repeatedly invaded by Muslims from the north, and by 1336 they had all been defeated by Alla-ud-din Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Sultans of Delhi. The Hoysala Empire became the sole remaining Hindu kingdom in the path of the Muslim invasion.[10] After the death of Hoysala Veera Ballala III during a battle against the Sultan of Madurai in 1343, the Hoysala empire merged with the growing Vijayanagara empire.

In the first two decades after the founding of the empire, Harihara I gained control over most of the area south of the Tungabhadra river and earned the title of Purvapaschima Samudradhishavara ("master of the eastern and western oceans"). By 1374 Bukka Raya I, successor to Harihara I, had defeated the chiefdom of Arcot, the Reddy dynasty of Kondavidu, the Sultan of Madurai and gained control over Goa in the west and the Tungabhadra-Krishna River doab in the north.[11][12] Ming Dynasty China received tributes and exchanged ambassadors with the island of Lanka.[13][14] The principality of Anegondi on the northern banks of the Tungabhadra River in today's Karnataka served as the original capital, moving later to nearby Vijayanagara on the river's southern banks during the reign of Bukka Raya I (1356-1377).

With the Vijayanagara Kingdom now imperial in stature, Harihara II, the second son of Bukka Raya I, further consolidated the kingdom beyond the Krishna River and brought the whole of South India under the Vijayanagara umbrella.[15] The next ruler, Deva Raya I, emerged successful against the Gajapatis of Orissa and undertook important works of fortification and irrigation.[16] Deva Raya II (called Gajabetekara)[17] succeeded to the throne in 1424, emerging possibly the most capable of the Sangama dynasty rulers.[18] He quelled rebelling feudal lords as well as the Zamorin of Calicut and Quilon in the south. He invaded the island of Lanka and became overlord of the kings of Burma at Pegu and Tanasserim.[19][20][21] The empire declined in the late fifteenth century until the serious attempts by commander Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya in 1485 and by general Tuluva Narasa Nayaka in 1491 to reconsolidate the empire. After nearly two decades of conflict with rebellious chieftains, the empire eventually came under the rule of Krishnadevaraya, the son of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka.[22]

In the following decades the Vijayanagara empire dominated all of Southern India and fought off invasions from the five established Deccan Sultanates.[23][24] The empire reached its peak during the rule of Krishnadevaraya when Vijayanagara armies proved consistently victorious.[25] The empire annexed areas formerly under the Sultanates in the northern Deccan and the territories in the eastern Deccan, including Kalinga, while simultaneously maintaining control over all its subordinates in the south.[26] Many important monuments had been either completed or commissioned during the time of Krishnadevaraya.[27]

Achyuta Raya followed Krishnadevaraya in 1530, and by Sadasiva Raya in 1542 while the real power lay with Aliya Rama Raya, the son-in-law of Krishnadevaraya, whose relationship with the Deccan Sultans who allied against him has been debated.[28]

Virupaksha temple, Hampi

The sudden capture and killing of Aliya Rama Raya in 1565 at the Battle of Talikota, against an alliance of the Deccan sultanates, after a seemingly easy victory for the Vijayanagara armies, created havoc and confusion in the Vijayanagara ranks, leading to a complete route. The Sultanates' army later plundered Hampi, reducing it to the ruinous state in which it remains; no dynasty has ever re-occupied it. Tirumala Raya, the sole surviving commander, left Vijayanagara for Penukonda with vast amounts of treasure on the back of 550 elephants.[29]

The empire went into a slow decline regionally, although trade with the Portuguese continued, and the British received a land grant for the establishment of Madras.[30][31] Sriranga I succeeded his fatherTirumala Deva Raya, later followed by Venkata II who made Chandragiri his capital, repulsed the invasion of the Bahmani Sultanate and saved Penukonda from captured. His successor, Ramadeva, took power and ruled till 1632 after whose death, Venkata III became king and ruled for about ten years after which Vellore became the capital. the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda finally conquered the empire. The largest feudatories of the Vijayanagar empire—the Mysore Kingdom, Keladi Nayaka, Nayaks of Madurai, Nayaks of Tanjore, Nayakas of Chitradurga and Nayak Kingdom of Gingee—declared independence and went on to have a significant impact on the history of South India in the coming centuries. Those Nayaka kingdoms lasted into the 18th century while the Mysore Kingdom remained a princely state until Indian Independence in 1947 although they came under the British Raj in 1799 after the death of Tipu Sultan.


Natural fortress at Vijayanagara
Royal Insignia : The Boar, Sun, Moon and the Dragger

The rulers of the Vijayanagara empire maintained the well-functioning administrative methods developed by their predecessors, the Hoysala, Kakatiya and Pandya kingdoms, to govern their territories and made changes only where necessary.[32] The King stood as the ultimate authority, assisted by a cabinet of ministers (Pradhana) headed by the prime minister (Mahapradhana). Other important titles recorded in inscriptions included the chief secretary (Karyakartha or Rayaswami) and the imperial officers (Adhikari). The government required all high ranking ministers and officers to have military training.[33] A secretariat near the king's palace employed scribes and officers to maintain records made official by using a wax seal imprinted with the ring of the king.[34] At the lower administrative levels, wealthy feudal landlords (Goudas) supervised accountants (Karanikas or Karnam) and guards (Kavalu). The palace administration divided into 72 departments (Niyogas), each having several female attendants chosen for their youth and beauty (some imported or captured in victorious battles), trained to handle minor administrative matters and to serve men of nobility as courtesans or concubines.[35]

The empire had been divided into five main provinces (Rajya), each under a commander (Dandanayaka or Dandanatha) and headed by a governor, often from the royal family, who used the native language for administrative purposes.[36] A Rajya divided into regions (Vishaya Vente or Kottam), and further divided into counties (Sime or Nadu) themselves subdivided into municipalities (Kampana or Sthala). Hereditary families ruled their respective territories and paid tribute to the empire while some areas, such as Keladi and Madurai, came under the direct supervision of a commander.

On the battlefields, the king's commanders led the troops. The empire's war strategy rarely involved massive invasions; more often it employed small scale methods such as attacking and destroying individual forts. The empire emerged among the first in India to use long range artillery commonly manned by foreign gunners. (Gunners from present day Turkmenistan had been considered the best).[37] Army troops consisted of two types: The king's personal army directly recruited by the empire and the feudal army under each feudatory. King Krishnadevaraya's personal army consisted of 100,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalrymen and over 900 elephants. That number constituted only a part of the army numbering over 1.1 million soldiers, a figure that varied as an army of two million has also been recorded along with the existence of a navy as evidenced by the use of the term Navigadaprabhu (commander of the navy).[38] The army recruited from all classes of society (supported by the collection of additional feudal tributes from feudatory rulers), and consisted of archers and musketeers wearing quilted tunics, shieldmen with swords and poignards in their girdles, and soldiers carrying shields so large that they fought without armor. The horses and elephants wore full body armor and the elephants had knives fastened to their tusks for maximum injury in battle.[39]

The capital city depended completely on the water supply systems constructed to channel and store water, and to ensure a consistent supply throughout the year. The remains of those hydraulic systems have given historians a picture of the prevailing surface water distribution methods in use at that time in South India's semiarid regions.[40] Contemporary inscriptions and notes of foreign travelers describe how laborers constructed huge tanks.[41] Excavations have uncovered the remains of a well-connected water distribution system existing solely within the royal enclosure and the large temple complexes (suggesting exclusive use of royalty, and for special ceremonies) with sophisticated channels using gravity and siphons to transport water through pipelines.[42] The remains of large water tanks that collected the seasonal monsoon water and then dried up in summer except for the few fed by springs represent the only structures resembling public waterworks. In the fertile agricultural areas near the Tungabhadra River, laborers dug canals to guide the river water into irrigation tanks. Those canals had sluices that opened and closed to control the water flow. In other areas the administration encouraged the digging of wells monitored by administrative authorities. Royal patronage supported the construction of large tanks in the capital city while wealthy individuals funded smaller tanks to gain social and religious merit.


Part of a series on
History of Karnataka
Origin of Karnataka's name
Kadambas and Gangas
Chalukya dynasty
Rashtrakuta Dynasty
Western Chalukya Empire
Southern Kalachuri
Hoysala Empire
Vijayanagara Empire
Bahamani Sultanate
Bijapur Sultanate
 Political history of medieval Karnataka 
Kingdom of Mysore
Unification of Karnataka

Societies    Economies
Architectures    Forts

The empire's economy depended largely on agriculture. Corn (jowar), cotton, and pulse legumes grew in semi arid regions, while sugarcane, rice and wheat thrived in rainy areas. Betel leaves, areca (for chewing), and coconut constituted the principal cash crops, and large scale cotton production supplied the weaving centers of the empire's vibrant textile industry. Spices such as turmeric, pepper, cardamom, and ginger grew in the remote Malnad hill region, transported to the city for trade. The empire's capital city thrived as a business center that included a burgeoning market in large quantities of precious gems and gold.[43] Prolific temple-building provided employment to thousands of masons, sculptors, and other skilled artisans.

Ancient Market place and plantation at Hampi

Owning land proved vital for creating wealth. Most of the growers worked tenant farmers, given the right of part ownership of the land over time. Tax policies encouraging needed produce made distinctions between land use to determine tax levies. For example, perfumers depended upon the daily market availability of rose petals, so cultivation of roses received a lower tax assessment.[44] Salt production and the manufacture of salt pans received similar benefits. The making of ghee (clarified butter), sold as an oil for human consumption and as a fuel for lighting lamps, proved profitable.[45] Exports to China intensified and included cotton, spices, jewels, semi-precious stones, ivory, rhino horn, ebony, amber, coral, and aromatic products such as perfumes. Large vessels from China made frequent visits, some captained by the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho, and brought Chinese products to the empire's 300 ports, large and small, on the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The ports of Mangalore, Honavar, Bhatkal, Barkur, Cochin, Cannanore, Machilipatnam and Dharmadam received the heaviest trade.[46]

When merchant ships docked, officials took the merchandise into official custody, assessing taxes on all items sold. The administration officials guaranteed the security of the merchandise. Traders of many nationalities (Arabs, Persians, Guzerates, Khorassanians) settled in Calicut, drawn by the thriving trade business.[46] Ship building prospered. Ship builders constructed keeled ships of 1000–1200 bahares (burden) without decks by sewing the entire hull with ropes rather than fastening them with nails. Ships sailed to the Red Sea ports of Aden and Mecca with Vijayanagara goods sold as far away as Venice. Pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, myrobalan, tamarind timber, anafistula, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, musk, ambergris, rhubarb, aloe, cotton cloth, and porcelain constituted the empire's principal exports.[46] Ships carried cotton yarn to Burma and indigo to Persia. From Palestine, importers received chiefly shipments copper, quicksilver (mercury), vermilion, coral, saffron, colored velvets, rose water, knives, colored camlets, gold and silver. Cannanore served as the port of entry for Persian horses, followed by a two week land trip to the capital. Silk arrived from China and sugar from Bengal.

East coast trade hummed, with rice, millet, pulse and tobacco arriving from Golkonda. The weaving industry drew imports of dye crops of indigo and chay root. A mineral-rich region, Machilipatnam served as the gateway for high quality iron and steel exports. The Kollur region conducted active diamond mining.[47] The cotton weaving industry produced two types of cottons, plain calico and muslin (brown, bleached or dyed). Merchants exported cloth printed with colored patterns crafted by native techniques to Java and the Far East. Golkonda specialized in plain cotton and Pulicat in printed. Non-ferrous metals, camphor, porcelain, silk, and luxury goods comprised the main imports on the east coast.[48]


Social life

naga (snake) stone worship at Hampi

Most information on the social life in Vijayanagara empire comes from the writings of foreign visitors and evidence that research teams in the Vijayanagara area have uncovered. The Hindu caste system prevailed, followed rigidly followed with each caste represented by a local body of elders who represented the community. Those elders set the rules and regulations implemented with the help of royal decrees. Untouchability constituted part of the caste system, leaders (Kaivadadavaru) representing those communities. The Muslim communities had representation by their own group in coastal Karnataka.[49] The caste system failed to prevent distinguished persons from all castes from being promoted to high ranking cadre in the army and administration. In civil life, by virtue of the caste system, Brahmins enjoyed a high level of respect. With the exception of a few who took to military careers, most Brahmins concentrated on religious and literary matters. Their separation from material wealth and power made them ideal arbiters in local judicial matters, and their presence in every town and village had been a calculated investment made by the nobility and aristocracy to maintain order.[50] The popularity of low-caste scholars (such as Molla and Kanakadasa) and their works (including those of Vemana and Sarvajna) indicated of the degree of social fluidity in the society.

The practice of Sati where wives threw themselves on the burning pyre of their dead husbands, had been common, though voluntary, and mostly practiced among the upper classes. Over 50 inscriptions attesting to that have been discovered in the Vijayanagara principality alone. Those inscriptions have come to be called Satikal (Sati stone) or Sati-virakal (Sati hero stone). Satikals commemorated the death of a woman by entering into fire after the death of her husband while craftsmen made Sati-virakals for a woman who performed Sati after her husband's heroic death. Either way, the woman raised to the level of a demi-goddess and proclaimed by the sculpture of a Sun and crescent moon on the stone.[51]

The socio-religious movements of the previous centuries, such as Lingayitism, provided momentum for flexible social norms expected of women. By that time South Indian women had crossed most barriers, participating in activities hitherto considered the monopoly of men, such as administration, business and trade, and involvement in the fine arts.[52] Tirumalamba Devi who wrote Varadambika Parinayam and Gangadevi who wrote Madhuravijayam stood among the notable women poets of the era.[53] Early Telugu women poets like Tallapaka Timmakka and Atukuri Molla became popular during that period. The court of the Nayaks of Tanjore has been recorded patronizing several women poets. The Devadasi system existed, as well as legalized prostitution relegated to a few streets in each city.[54] The popularity of harems amongst men of the royalty has appeared abundantly in records.

Well-to-do men wore the Petha or Kulavi, a tall turban made of silk and decorated with gold. As in most Indian societies, men and women used jewellery, records describing the use of anklets, bracelets, finger-rings, necklaces and ear rings of various types. During celebrations, men and women adorned themselves with flower garlands and used perfumes made of rose water, civet, musk or sandalwood.[55] In stark contrast to the commoners who lived modestly, the empire's kings and queens lived lives full of ceremonial pomp in the court. Queens and princesses had numerous attendants who dressed lavishly, adorned with fine jewellery, their daily duties being light.[56]

Physical exercises had been popular with men, wrestling standing out as an important male preoccupation for sport and entertainment. Records even mentioned women wrestlers.[57] Gymnasiums have been discovered inside royal quarters and records speak of regular physical training for commanders and their armies during peace time.[58] Royal palaces and market places had special arenas where royalty and common people alike amused themselves by watching matches such as cock fights, ram fights and wrestling between women.[58] Excavations within the Vijayanagara city limits have revealed the existence of various types of community-based activities in the form of engravings on boulders, rock platforms and temple floors, implying those places served for casual social interaction. People play some of those games today, others have yet to be identified.[59]


UgraNarasimha (Vishnu) at Hampi
Balakrishna Temple at Hampi

Although the empire had been built to shield Hindu dharma from the onslaughts of the Mughal Empire and the Deccan sultanates, the Vijayanagara kings practiced tolerance of all religions and sects as writings by foreign visitors show.[60] The kings used titles such as Gobrahamana Pratipalanacharya ("protector of cows") and Hindurayasuratrana ("upholder of Hindu faith") that testified to their intention of protecting Hinduism. The Empire's founders Harihara I and Bukka Raya I had been devout Shaivans (worshippers of Shiva), but made grants to the Vaishnava order of Sringeri with Vidyaranya as their patron saint, and designated Varaha (the boar, an avatar of Vishnu) as their emblem. The later Saluva and Tuluva kings declared the Vaishnava faith, but worshipped at the feet of Lord Virupaksha (Shiva) at Hampi as well as Lord Venkateshwara (Vishnu) at Tirupati. A Sanskrit work, Jambavati Kalyanam by King Krishnadevaraya, called Lord Virupaksha Karnata Rajya Raksha Mani ("protective jewel of Karnata Empire").[61] The kings patronised the saints of the dvaita order (philosophy of dualism) of Madhvacharya at Udupi.[62]

The Bhakti (devotional) movement had been active during that time, and involved well known Haridasas (devotee saints). Like the Virashaiva movement of the twelfth century, that movement presented another strong current of devotion, pervading the lives of millions. The Haridasas represented two groups, the Vyasakuta and Dasakuta, the former being required for proficiency in the Vedas, Upanishads and other Darshanas, while the Dasakuta merely conveyed the message of Madhvacharya through the Kannada language to the people in the form of devotional songs (Devaranamas and Kirthanas). Eminent disciples such as Naraharitirtha, Jayatirtha, Vyasatirtha, Sripadaraya, andVadirajatirtha spread the philosophy of Madhvacharya.[63] Vyasatirtha served as the guru (teacher) of Vadirajatirtha, Purandaradasa (Father of Carnatic music),[64][65][66] Kanakadasa and King Krishnadevaraya who considered the saint his Kuladevata (family deity) and honored him in many of his writings.[67][68][69] During that time, another great composer of early carnatic music, Annamacharya composed hundreds of Kirthanas in Telugu at Tirupati in present day Andhra Pradesh.[70]

The defeat of the Jain Western Ganga Dynasty by the Cholas in early eleventh century and the rising numbers of followers of Vaishnava Hinduism and Virashaivism in the twelfth century mirrored a decreasing interest in Jainism.[71] Two notable locations of Jain worship in the Vijayanagara territory had been Shravanabelagola and Kambadahalli.

Islamic contact with South India began as early as the seventh century, a result of trade between the Southern kingdoms and Arab lands. Jumma Masjids existed in the Rashtrakuta empire by the tenth century[72] and many mosques flourished on the Malabar coast by the early fourteenth century.[73] Muslim settlers married local women; their children became known as Mappillas (Moplahs), actively involved in horse trading and manning shipping fleets. The interactions between the Vijayanagara empire and the Bahamani Sultanates to the north increased the presence of Muslims in the south. The introduction of Christianity began as early as the eighth century as shown by the finding of copper plates inscribed with land grants to Malabar Christians. Christian travelers wrote of the scarcity of Christians in South India in the Middle Ages, promoting its attractiveness to missionaries.[74] The arrival of the Portuguese in the fifteenth century and their connections through trade with the empire, the propagation of the faith by Saint Xavier (1545) and later the presence of Dutch settlements fostered the growth of Christianity in the south.


During the rule of the Vijayanagar Empire, poets, scholars and philosophers wrote in Sanskrit and the regional languages, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil and covered such subjects as religion, biography, Prabhanda (fiction), music, grammar, poetry and medicine. The Telugu language became a popular literary medium, reaching its peak under the patronage of Krishnadevaraya.

Most Sanskrit works constituted commentaries either on the Vedas or on the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics, written by well known figures such as Sayana and Vidyaranya that extolled the superiority of the Advaita philosophy over other rival Hindu philosophies.[75] Other writers included famous Dvaita saints of the Udupi order such as Jayatirtha (earning the title Tikacharya for his polemicial writings), Vyasatirtha who wrote rebuttals to the Advaita philosophy and of the conclusions of earlier logicians, and Vadirajatirtha and Sripadaraya both of whom criticized the beliefs of Adi Sankara.[76] Apart from those saints, noted Sanskrit scholars adorned the courts of the Vijayanagara kings and their feudatory chiefdoms. Many kings of the dynasty had been themselves litterateurs and authored classics such as King Krishnadevaraya's Jambavati Kalyana, a poetic and dramatically skillful work.[77]

The period's Kannada poets and scholars produced important writings supporting the Vaishnava Bhakti movement heralded by the Haridasas (devotees of Vishnu), Brahminical and Virashaiva (Lingayatism) literature. The Haridasa poets celebrated their devotion through songs called Devaranama (lyrical poems) in the ragale meter. The teachings of Madhvacharya and Vyasatirtha served as their inspirations. Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa stand foremost among many Dasas (devotees) by virtue of their immense contribution.[78] Kumara Vyasa, the most notable of Brahmin scholars wrote Gudugina Bharata, a translation of the epic Mahabharata. That work marks a transition of Kannada literature from old Kannada to modern Kannada.[79] Chamarasa had been a famous Virashaiva scholar and poet who had many debates with Vaishnava scholars in the court of Devaraya II. His Prabhulinga Lile, later translated into Telugu and Tamil, presented a eulogy of Saint Allama Prabhu (Many considered the saint an incarnation of Lord Ganapathi while Parvathi took the form of a princess of Banavasi).[80]

At that peak of Telugu literature, Manucharitamu stood as the most famous writing in the Prabhanda style. King Krishnadevaraya had been an accomplished Telugu scholar and wrote the celebrated Amuktamalyada.[81] In his court the eight famous scholars regarded as the pillars (Astadiggajas) of the literary assembly resided, the most famous being Allasani Peddana honored with the title Andhrakavitapitamaha (father of Telugu poetry) and Tenali Ramakrishna, Krishnadevaraya's court jester who authored several acclaimed works.[82] That had been the age of Srinatha, the greatest of all Telugu poets in legend, who wrote books like Marutratcharitamu and Salivahana-sapta-sati. King Devaraya II patronized him and he stood equal in stature to the most important ministers in the court.[83]

Though much of the Tamil literature from that period came from Tamil speaking regions ruled by the feudatory Pandya who gave particular attention on the cultivation of Tamil literature, the Vijayanagara kings patronised some poets. Svarupananda Desikar wrote an anthology of 2824 verses, Sivaprakasap-perundirattu, on the Advaita philosophy. His pupil the ascetic, Tattuvarayar, wrote a shorter anthology, Kurundirattu, that contained about half the number of verses. Krishnadevaraya patronised the Tamil Vaishnava poet Haridasa whose Irusamaya Vilakkam represened an exposition of the two Hindu systems, Vaishnava and Shaiva, with a preference for the former.[84]

Vidyaranya's Sangitsara, Praudha Raya's Ratiratnapradipika, Sayana's Ayurveda Sudhanidhi, and Lakshmana Pandita's Vaidyarajavallabham have become notable among secular writings on music and medicine.[85]


Vijayanagara architecture, a vibrant combination of the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya, and Chola styles, idioms, had prospered in previous centuries.[86][87] Its legacy of sculpture, architecture and painting influenced the development of the arts long after the empire came to an end. The ornate pillared Kalyanamantapa (marriage hall), Vasanthamantapa (open pillared halls) and the Rayagopura (tower) represent its stylistic hallmark. Artisans used the locally available hard granite because of its durability since the kingdom existed under constant threat of invasion. While the empire's monuments spread over the whole of Southern India, nothing surpasses the vast open air theater of monuments at its capital at Vijayanagara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[88]

In the fourteenth century the kings continued to build Vesara or Deccan style monuments but later incorporated dravida-style gopurams to meet their ritualistic needs. The Prasanna Virupaksha temple (underground temple) of Bukka Raya I and the Hazare Rama temple of Deva Raya I provide examples of Deccan architecture.[89] The varied and intricate ornamentation of the pillars distinguishes their work.[90] At Hampi, though the Vitthala temple embodies the best example of their pillared Kalyanamantapa style, the Hazara Ramaswamy temple although modest provides a perfectly finished example.[91] Their return to the simplistic and serene art developed by the Chalukya dynasty serves as a visible aspect of their style.[92] A grand specimen of Vijayanagara art, the Vitthala temple, took several decades to complete during the reign of the Tuluva kings.[93]

The carving of large monoliths such as the Sasivekalu (mustard) Ganesha and Kadalekalu (Ground nut) Ganesha at Hampi, the Gomateshwara statues in Karkala and Venur, and the Nandi bull in Lepakshi represent another element of the Vijayanagara style. The Vijayanagara temples of Bhatkal, Kanakagiri, Sringeri and other towns of coastal Karnataka, as well as Tadpatri, Lepakshi, Ahobilam, Tirupati and Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh, and Vellore, Kumbakonam, Kanchi and Srirangam in Tamil Nadu provide examples of the style. Vijayanagara art includes wall-paintings such as Dasavathara (ten avatars of Vishnu) and Girijakalyana (marriage of Goddess Parvati) in the Virupaksha temple at Hampi, the Shivapurana paintings (tales of Shiva) at the Virabhadra temple at Lepakshi, and those at the Jain basadi (temple) and the Kamaskshi and Varadaraja temple at Kanchi.[94] That mingling of the South Indian styles resulted in a richness unseen in earlier centuries, a focus on reliefs in addition to sculpture that surpasses that previously in India.[95]

The presence of many secular structures bearing Islamic features displays an aspect of Vijayanagara architecture that shows the cosmopolitanism of the great city. While political history concentrates on the ongoing conflict between the Vijayanagara empire and the Deccan Sultanates, the architectural record reflects a more creative interaction. Many arches, domes and vaults show those influences. The concentration of structures like pavilions, stables and towers suggests royalty used them.[96] The decorative details of those structures may have been absorbed into Vijayanagara architecture during the early fifteenth century, coinciding with the rule of Deva Raya I and Deva Raya II. Those kings have been recoreded as employing many Muslims in their army and court, some of whom may have been Muslim architects. That harmonious exchange of architectural ideas must have happened during rare periods of peace between the Hindu and Muslim kingdoms.[97] The "Great Platform" (Mahanavmi dibba) has relief carvings in which the figures seem to have the facial features of central Asian Turks known to have been employed as royal attendants.[98]


Poetic inscription in Kannada by Vijayanagara poet Manjaraja (1398 C.E.)

Kannada, Telugu and Tamil had been used in their respective regions of the empire. Over 7000 inscriptions (Shasana) including 300 copper plate inscriptions (Tamarashasana) have been recovered, almost half written in Kannada, the remaining in Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit.[99][100] Bilingual inscriptions had lost favor by the fourteenth century.[101] The empire minted coins at Hampi, Penugonda and Tirupati with Nagari, Kannada and Telugu legends usually carrying the name of the ruler.[102][103] Gold, silver and copper had been used to issue coins called Gadyana, Varaha, Pon, Pagoda, Pratapa, Pana, Kasu, and Jital.[104] The coins contained the images of various Gods including Balakrishna (infant Krishna), Venkateshwara (the presiding deity of the temple at Tirupati), Goddesses such as Bhudevi and Sridevi, divine couples, animals such as bulls and elephants and birds. The earliest coins feature Hanuman and the Garuda (divine eagle), the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Kannada and Telugu inscriptions have been deciphered and recorded by historians of the Archeological Survey of India.[105][106]


  1. Robert Sewell. A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar: A Contribution to the History of India. (1901); Nilakanta Sastri (1955); N. Ventakaramanayya. The Early Muslim expansion in South India. (1942); B. Surya Narayana Rao. History of Vijayanagar. (1993), in Suryanath U. Kamath. A concise history of Karnataka : from pre-historic times to the present. (Bangalore: Jupiter books, (1980) 2001), 157–160.
  2. Historians such as P. B. Desai. History of Vijayanagar Empire. (1936); Henry Heras. The Aravidu Dynasty of Vijayanagara. (1927); B.A. Saletore. Social and Political Life in the Vijayanagara Empire. (1930); G. S. Gai. Archaeological Survey of India.; William Coelho. The Hoysala Vamsa. (1955); and Kamath, in Kamath, 2001, 157–160.
  3. A. P. Karmarkar. Cultural history of Karnataka : ancient and medieval. (Dharwad: Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha, 1947), 30.
  4. Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund. A History of India, 4th ed. (New York: Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0415329191), 188
  5. B. L. Rice. Mysore Gazetteer, Compiled for Government-vol 1. (New Delhi, Madras: Asian Educational Services, [1897] 2001. ISBN 81206097780), 345
  6. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri. A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. (New Delhi: Indian Branch, Oxford University Press, [1955] 2002. ISBN 0195606868), 216
  7. Kamath, 2001, 160
  8. Portuguese travelers Barbosa, Barradas and Italian Varthema and Caesar Fredericci in 1567, Persian Abdur Razzak in 1440, Barani, Isamy, Tabataba, Nizamuddin Bakshi, Ferishta and Shirazi and vernacular works from the fourteenth century to the sixteenth century. (Kamath, 2001, 157–158)
  9. Vijayanagara Research Project. Retrieved September 23, 2009. ; John M. Fritz and George Michell, (eds.), New Light on Hampi : Recent Research at Vijayanagar. (Mumbai: MARG, 2001. ISBN 818502653X)
  10. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 216
  11. Kamath, 2001, 162
  12. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 317
  13. Indicated by records of the Ming Dynasty (Kamath, 2001, 162)
  14. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 241
  15. The success probably owed much to the peaceful nature of Muhammad II Bahmani, according to Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 242
  16. From the notes of Portuguese Nuniz. Robert Sewell notes that a big dam across had been built the Tungabhadra and an aqueduct 15 miles (24 km) long cut out of rock. (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 243).
  17. Also deciphered as Gajaventekara, a metaphor for "great hunter of his enemies," or "hunter of elephants" (Kamath, 2001, 163).
  18. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 244
  19. From the notes of Persian Abdur Razzak. Writings of Nuniz confirms that the kings of Burma paid tributes to Vijayanagara Empire. (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 245)
  20. Kamath, 2001, 164
  21. From the notes of Abdur Razzak about Vijayanagara: "a city like this had not been seen by the pupil of the eye nor had an ear heard of anything equal to it in the world" quoted in Hampi, A Travel Guide. (New Delhi: Good Earth publication & Department of Tourism, India. ISBN 8187780177), 2003, 11
  22. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 250
  23. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 239
  24. Kamath, 2001, 159
  25. From the notes of Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes about Krishnadevaraya: "A king who was perfect in all things". (Hampi, A Travel Guide 2003, 31)
  26. The notes of Portuguese Barbosa during the time of Krishnadevaraya confirms a very rich and well provided Vijayanagara city. (Kamath, 2001, 186)
  27. Most monuments, including the royal platform (Mahanavami Dibba), actually had been built over a period spanning several decades. (Anna L. Dallapiccola, "Relief carvings on the great platform", in John M. Fritz and George Michell, (eds.) New Light on Hampi: Recent Research at Vijayanagara. (Mumbai: MARG, 2001), 66)
  28. Dr. P. B. Desai asserts that Rama Raya's involvement often came at the insistence of one Sultan or the other. (Kamath, 2001, 172).
  29. Some scholars say that actually Rakkasagi and Tangadigi fought the war in modern Bijapur district, close to Talikota, in the battle called "Battle of Rakkasa-Tangadi." Shervani claimed that Bannihatti served as the actual venue of the battle (Kamath, 2001, 170)
  30. The Telugu work Vasucharitamu refers to Aravidu King Tirumala Raya (1570) as the reviver of the Karnata Empire. (Ramesh 2006)
  31. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 268
  32. A war administration, (K. M. Panikkar, in Kamath, 2001, 174)
  33. From the notes of Persian Abdur Razzak and research by B. A. Saletore (Kamath, 2001, 175)
  34. From the notes of Nuniz (Kamath, 2001, 175)
  35. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 286
  36. From the notes of Duarte Barbosa (Kamath, 2001, 176). The kingdom may have had nine provinces (T.V. Mahalingam, in Kamath, 2001, 176)
  37. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 287
  38. From the notes of Abdur Razzaq and Paes respectively (Kamath, 2001, 176)
  39. From the notes of Nuniz (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 288)
  40. Dominic J. Davison-Jenkins, "Hydraulic works", in Fritz and Michell, 2001, 89
  41. From the notes of Domingo Paes and Nuniz. (Davison-Jenkins, 98)
  42. Davison-Jenkins, 90
  43. From the notes of Duarte Barbosa, (Kamath 2001, 181).
  44. From the notes of Abdur Razzak, in Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 298
  45. From the notes of Abdur Razzak, in Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 299
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 From the notes of Abdur Razzak, in Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 304
  47. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 305
  48. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 306
  49. Kamath, 2001, 179
  50. According to Sir Charles Elliot, the intellectual superiority of Brahmins justified their high position in society, (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 289)
  51. Anila Verghese, "Memorial stones", in Fritz and Michell, 2001, 41
  52. B. A. Saletore, in Kamath, 2001, 179
  53. Kamath, 2001, 162
  54. Kamath, 180
  55. Kamath, 2001, 180
  56. From the writings of Portuguese Domingo Paes, (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 296)
  57. Kamath, 2001, 179
  58. 58.0 58.1 Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 296
  59. Alexandra Mack, "The temple district of Vitthalapura", in Fritz and Michell, 2001, 39
  60. From the notes of Duarte Barbosa, (Kamath, 2001, 178)
  61. Fritz & Mitchell, 14
  62. Kamath, 2001, 177–178
  63. Madhusudana Rao, History of Haridasas. Dvaita Home Page. accessdate 2006-12-31 —Vyasatirtha, Sripadaraya and Vadirajatirtha constitute the Yathi Trayaru (holy Trinity) of the Madhvacharya order.
  64. Owing to his contributions to carnatic music, Purandaradasa won rennown as Karnataka Sangita Pitamaha. (Kamat, Saint Purandaradasa)
  65. Madhusudana Rao, Sri Purandara Dasaru. Dvaita Home Page. accessdate 2006-12-31
  66. S. Sowmya, K. N. Shashikiran, History of Music. Srishti's Carnatica Private Limited. accessdate 2006-12-31
  67. Kamath, 2001, 178
  68. Narahari S. Pujar, Shrisha Rao and H.P. Raghunandan, Sri Vyasa Tirtha. Dvaita Home Page. accessdate 2006-12-31
  69. Nilakanta Sastri, 324
  70. Kamath, 2001, 185
  71. Kamath, 2001, 112, 132
  72. From the notes of Arab writer Al-Ishtakhri, (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 396)
  73. From the notes of Ibn Batuta (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 396)
  74. From the notes of Jordanus in 1320–1321 (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 397)
  75. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 321
  76. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 324
  77. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 318
  78. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 365
  79. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 364
  80. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 363
  81. During his rule, Krishnadevaraya gave encouragement for the creation of original Prabhandas (stories) from Puranic themes. (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 372)
  82. Like the Nine gems of King Vikramaditya's court, the Ashtadiggajas of Krishnadevara's court had been made famous in legend. (Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 372)
  83. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 370
  84. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, 347
  85. Prasad, 1988, 268–270
  86. Art critic, Percy Brown calls Vijayanagar architecture a blossoming of Dravidian style. Kamath, 182
  87. Arthikaje. Literary Activity
  88. "So intimate are the rocks and the monuments they were used for make, it is was sometimes impossible to say where nature ended and art began" (Art critic Percy Brown, quoted in Hampi, A Travel Guide, 64)
  89. Fritz & Mitchell, 9
  90. Nilakanta Sastri about the importance of pillars in the Vijayanagar style, in Kamath, 2001, 183
  91. "Drama in stone" wrote art critic Percy Brown, much of the beauty of Vijayanagara architecture came from their pillars and piers and the styles of sculpting, (Hampi, A Travel Guide, 77)
  92. About the sculptures in Vijayanagara style, see Kamath, 2001, 184
  93. Several monuments are categorized as Tuluva art, (Fritz & Mitchell, 2001, 9)
  94. Some of those paintings may have been redone in later centuries (Rajashekhar, in Kamath, 2001, 184)
  95. Historians and art critics K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, A. L. Basham, James Fergusson, and S. K. Saraswathi have commented about Vijayanagara architecture, (Arthikaje Literary Activity).
  96. Fritz & Mitchell, 2001, 10
  97. Helen Philon, "Plaster decoration on Sultanate-styled courtly buildings", in Fritz and Mitchell, 2001, 87
  98. Dallapiccola, 2001, 69
  99. G. S. Gai, in Kamath, 2001, 10, 157.
  100. Arthikaje, The Vijayanagar Empire. 1998–2000. OurKarnataka.Com. accessdate 2006-12-31
  101. Romila Thapar. The Penguin History of Early India. (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2003. ISBN 0143029894), 393–395
  102. Vijayanagara Coins. Government Museum Chennai.
  103. Govindaraya S. Prabhu, Catalogue, Part one. Prabhu'S Web Page On Indian Coinage, Vijayanagara, the forgotten empire.
  104. Harihariah Oruganti, Coinage. Vijayanagara Coins. Catalogue. accessdate 2006-12-31
  105. K. V. Ramesh. South Indian Inscription, Volume 16: Telugu Inscriptions from Vijayanagar Dynasty. Stones 1-25. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. accessdate 2006-12-31
  106. Shama Sastry & Lakshminarayan Rao. South Indian Inscription, Volume 9: Kannada Inscriptions from Madras Presidency, [1]. "Miscellaneous Inscriptions, Part II." in Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi. accessdate 2006-12-31

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Arthikaje. Literary Activity, Art and Architecture. History of karnataka. OurKarnataka.Com. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  • Dallapiccola, Anna L. "Relief carvings on the great platform", in John M. Fritz and George Michell, eds. New Light on Hampi: Recent Research at Vijayanagara. Mumbai: MARG, 2001. ISBN 818502653X.
  • Davison-Jenkins, Dominic J. "Hydraulic works", in John M. Fritz and George Michell, eds. New Light on Hampi : Recent Research at Vijayanagara. Mumbai: MARG, 2001. ISBN 818502653X.
  • Durga Prasad, J. [2]. (PDF) accessdate 2007-01-27 History of the Andhras up to 1565 A. D.. Guntur: P.G. Publisher, 1988. Retrieved 2007-01-27.
  • Hampi travel guide 2003. New Delhi: Good Earth publication & Department of Tourism, India. ISBN 8187780177, LCCN 2003-334582.
  • Fritz, John M., and George Michell, eds. New Light on Hampi : Recent Research at Vijayanagar. Mumbai: MARG, 2001. ISBN 818502653X.
  • Kamath, Suryanath U. A concise history of Karnataka : from pre-historic times to the present. Bangalore: Jupiter books, (1980) 2001. LCCN 809-5179. OCLC 7796041.
  • Karmarkar, A. P. Cultural history of Karnataka : ancient and medieval. Dharwad: Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha, 1947. OCLC 8221605.
  • Kulke, Hermann, and Dietmar Rothermund. A History of India, 4th ed. New York: Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0415329191.
  • Mack, Alexandra, "The temple district of Vitthalapura", in John M. Fritz and George Michell, eds. New Light on Hampi : Recent Research at Vijayanagara. Mumbai: MARG, 2001. ISBN 818502653X.
  • Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. New Delhi: Indian Branch, Oxford University Press, [1955] 2002. ISBN 0195606868.
  • Philon, Helen, "Plaster decoration on Sultanate-styled courtly buildings", in John M. Fritz and George Michell, eds. New Light on Hampi : Recent Research at Vijayanagara. Mumbai: MARG, 2001. ISBN 818502653X.
  • Pujar, Narahari S., Shrisha Rao and H.P. Raghunandan. Vyâsa Tîrtha (1460–1539)—a short sketch. Dvaita Home Page. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  • Ramesh, K. V.."Introduction", South Indian Inscription, Volume 16: Telugu Inscriptions from Vijayanagar Dynasty. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  • Rice, B. L. Mysore Gazatteer Compiled for Government-vol 1. New Delhi, Madras: Asian Educational Services, [1897] 2001. ISBN 8120609778.
  • Sewell, Robert. A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar: A Contribution to the History of India. 1901.
  • Thapar, Romila. The Penguin History of Early India. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2003. ISBN 0143029894.
  • Verghese, Anila, "Memorial stones", in John M. Fritz and George Michell, eds. New Light on Hampi : Recent Research at Vijayanagara. Mumbai: MARG, 2001. ISBN 818502653X.
  • Ventakaramanayya, N. The Early Muslim expansion in South India. 1942.

External links

All links retrieved May 3, 2023.


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.