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According to Appadurai, The "Karnataka Empire" or Vijayanagar Empire was originally
of the Karnataka region and it drew its inspirations from the Hoysala Empire and the
Western Ganga Dynasty of the Karnataka and the Chola and Pandya of the Tamil
country. According to Henry Heras, inscriptional evidence shows that Ballappa
Dandanayaka, a nephew of Hoysala Veera Ballala III was married to a daughter of
Harihara I, the founding king of the empire. This is claimed proof enough of the
association Sangama brothers had with the Hoysala family.
According to the historians Saletore, P.B. Desai and Henry Heras, the theory of
capture of Harihara I and Bukka Raya I by the Sultan of Delhi and conversion to Islam is
false and that the testimony of epigraphs proves that the area around Hampi constituted
their homeland. The empire never had a Telugu origin. The patron saint of the early
kings was saint Vidyaranya, the 12th Shankaracharya of Sringeri in Karnataka, and this
is proof enough of their unquestionable identity with the Kannada country. About the
Muslim records that claim a Telugu origin of Harihara I and Bukka Raya, these
historians feel, the records are neither unanimous nor reliable in their claims. In those
days of religious rigidity, it is too far-fetched to accept a theory of conversion to Islam
and re-conversion to Hinduism while still managing to win the trust and loyalty of Hindu
subjects in an hour of impending invasions. According to Kamath, the great devotion the
founders of the empire had in Lord Chennakeshava of Belur and Lord Virupaksha of
Hampi testifies to their origin from Kannada country, though in political and
administrative matters, the Vijayanagar kings followed the Hoysala, Kakatiya, Chola
framework in the various provincial regions of the empire. The Sangama brothers even
signed their Sanskrit records in Kannada (as Srivirupaksha) and used their Kannada
titles even in their Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit records. No Telugu titles were used by
them. A popular chieftain and patriot of those times, prince Kumara Rama of
Kummata Durga or simply Kummata Durga (capital of the tiny Kampli kingdom in
Bellary District) may have been related to Sangama, father of Harihar I. This evidence
exists in a literary piece by poet Nanjunda (Kumara Rama Charita). According to
Kamath, the early Vijayanagar kings raised memorials at Sandur, Chitradurga and
Dharwad to sing the glory of Kumara Rama's valor and show their continued efforts to
build an empire in his legacy. All this proves the matrimonial relations the Sangama
family had with the Kummata family.
Historians such as Robert Sewell, Dallapiccola, M.H. Ramasarma, Y.
Subbarayalu, N. Venkataramanayya and B. Suryanarain Rao have attested the Telugu
origin of Vijayanagar empire. According to British traveler Francis Buchanan (1801),
while on a visit to Beidur in Mysore (Karnataka), he was shown a Sanskrit book called
Vidyaranya Sikka by a person called Ramappa Varmika. The book mentioned that the
founders of Vijayanagar were Harihara and Bukka, and that they were guards of the
treasury of the Kakatiya King Prataparudra of Warangal. The brothers met a spiritual
teacher called Vidyaranya, the sage of Sringeri monastery, who guided them to
establish the Kingdom of Vijayanagar to safeguard the Hindu religion. This was in 1336
and Harihara was made first king of the fledgling empire. Robert Sewell considered
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various such theories and concluded that Harihara and Bukka were treasury officers of
Kuruba Gowda caste, in the court of Warangal, the capital of the (Kakatiya dynasty).
The Delhi Sultan who captured and converted the brothers to Islam, sent them back to
put down the rebellion of Hoysala king. They succeeded in suppressing the rebellion but
laid foundation of an independent kingdom at the behest of Vidyaranya.
Historians Venkataramanayya and Ramasarma supported the conclusions of
Sewell based on his research and the information provided by the Sanskrit and
Kannada treatises such as Vidyaranya Kalajnana (in Sanskrit), Vidyaranya Vrittanta,
Rajakalanirnaya, Piramahasamhiti and Sivatatva Ratnakara (all in Kannada). According
to the scholar Suryanarain Rao, who described seven traditional accounts of the origin
of Harihara and Bukka, five were inclined towards a Telugu origin of the founding
kings. According to Sreenivasa Rao, the Telugu Golla identity of Harihara and
Bukka and their devotion to the goddess Bhuvaneswari is also established. According
to Subbarayalu, indirect evidences such as the employment of predominantly Telugu
Nayaks (Kamma, Balija, Velama and Reddy people) for revenue collection throughout
the empire also supported their Telugu affinity.
According to Gribble, Muslim scholars of the time, such as Ziauddin Barani,
Isarni and Ferishta and foreign visitors such as Ibn Batuta and Nuniz also recorded that
the Sangama brothers were serving King Prataparudra and were taken captive after the
fall of Warangal. According to B.R. Gopal, who based his research on evidence gleaned
from inscriptions such as the Gozalavidu record, the founders of Vijayanagara were at
first in the service of the last Kakatiya king Prataparudra of Warangal. When that
monarch was defeated by Muhammad bin Tughluq and taken prisoner, they fled to
Kampili and took refuge in the court of Kampilideva. Venkataramanayya states that on
the outbreak of a rebellion in Kampili the brothers were sent by Tughlaq with an army to
Kampili to reconquer it from the rebels and rule the province as his deputies. According
to M.Somesekhara Sarma, they successfully suppressed the rebellion, but under the
influence of Vidyaranya renounced Islam and threw in their lot with the Andhra
nationalists led by Musunuri Nayaks who had just then succeeded under the leadership
of Kaapaya Nayaka in expelling the Muslims and re-establish the national
independence. Professor Nilakanta Shastri claims that Harihara and Bukka then
reverted to their ancient faith and having declared independence, assumed the
leadership of the Hindus of Kampili in their fight against the Muslims.
According to Venkataramanaya, Kaapaya and Bukka had actively collaborated
with each other to ward off the Muslim threat, probably because of their close
association in the court of Warangal. He surmised that the establishment of Vijayanagar
kingdom drew inspiration from the successful exploits of Kaapaya.
Other theories of origin
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A popular account says that the Hampi region was part of a Kampili kingdom in
the 14th century when large parts of north India was under Muslim rule. In 1326 AD
Muhammad bin Tughluq defeated and killed the king of Kampili. Among those taken
prisoner were sons of Sangama, Hukka (Harihara I) and Bukka (Bukka Raya), both
treasury officers of Kampili who were forced to convert to Islam. Some years later the
brothers were sent back to govern Kampili. In 1336, The brothers laid the foundation of
an independent kingdom, denying any subordination to the Tughluqs and became
Capital city in medieval literature
The capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire was founded on the banks of the
Tungabhadra River by Harihara I and Bukka Raya I in the 14th century. The capital city
grew with extraordinary rapidity in the early decades of Sangama rule and became one
of the biggest cities in the world of the 15th and 16th centuries. The capital city had
splendid layout with forts, palaces, gardens and temples in it. The construction of major
irrigation works during the 15th century under Emperor Deva Raya and under Emperor
Krishna Deva Raya in the early 16th century was one of the main reasons why the city
flourished and expanded. Several foreign travelers visited the city in the 15th and 16th
century and were impressed by the magnificence of the city. The Persian traveler Abdur
Razzak who visited the capital city in the 15th century described the city with the
following words:" The city of Vijayanagar is such that the pupil of the eye has never
seen a place like it, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there
existed anything to equal it in the world" The Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes says of
the city: " This is the best provided city in the world." Domingo Paes was overwhelmed
by the city and stated:" The people in the city are countless in number, so much so that I
do not wish to write it down for fear it should be thought fabulous. What I saw seemed
as large as Rome and very beautiful to the sight; there are many groves of trees within
it, many orchards and gardens of fruit trees and many conduits of water which flow in
the midst of it, and in places there are lakes." The Italian traveler Nicolo Conti who
visited the city in 1420 CE, estimated the circumference of the city to be sixty miles and
was impressed by the strength of its fortifications.
Recent excavations have unearthed archaeological artifacts dating from the 3rd
century BC to early in the 2nd millennium, documenting evidence from over seven
hundred important sites. These sites include ash mounds, ancient settlements,
megalithic cemeteries, temples and rock art. These findings show that the Vijayanagar
area was densely settled for a long period before the creation of the empire.
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Starting at its outermost fortifications, the principality of Vijayanagar spans from
Anegondi in the north to Hosapete in the south and covers a total area of 650 km².
Vijayanagara's core, an area of 25 km², includes the Tungabhadra River flowing through
rocky terrain with huge boulders piled in massive formations. In addition to this naturally
daunting landscape, builders constructed fortifications surrounding the regal city in
several layers. The rocky hillocks made excellent sentinel points for watch towers and
granite boulders provided the raw material for temple construction. South of the river the
rocky landscape disappears, replaced by flat cultivable land where large and small
temples complexes were built. The largest human populations were located to the south
of the irrigated lands that were watered by a system of clever ducts and anecut (dams)
channelling water to the capital from the river. At its peak, Vijayanagara may have had
up to a million residents.
For the sake of simplicity archaeologists have divided the capital area into many
zones. Of these, the major two zones are the Sacred Centre and the Royal Centre. The
former, generally spread along the south bank, is characterized by the highest
concentration of religious structures. The Royal Centre is notable for its stately
structures, both civil and military. The very seat of power of the empire was located at
the core of this area.
Islamic Quarter also sometimes called, as the Moorish Quarter is located
between the northern slope of the Malyavanta hill towards and the Talarigatta Gate.
According to the archaeologists, high-ranking Muslim officers of the king's court and the
military officers stayed in this area.
Two important legends associated with Hampi, the core area of Vijayanagar, had
an important part in making it a pilgrim destination for several centuries prior to the
Vijayanagara era. One legend describes a local Goddess, Pampa, who married
Virupaksha (Lord Shiva) on the Hemakuta Hill and was thereafter considered to be an
incarnation of Parvati. From Pampa came the name Pampe or (in Kannada) Hampe.
The other legend draws on the Hindu epic Ramayana in which Lord Rama and his
brother, Lakshmana, searched for Sita in the vicinity of the ancient capital of Kishkindha
and met Hanuman on Rishyamuka Hill. Sugreeva, the monkey king in exile, and Rama
made a covenant to mutually help each other find Sita and get rid of the evil King Vali.
This agreement is celebrated by the presence of a temple in which are icons of Lord
Rama, Lakshmana and Sugreeva. Hanuman, the devout follower of Rama, is said to
have been born on Anjenadri Hill near the Tungabhadra river facing Hampi. Hence his
name is Anjaneya. Archaeology traces the history of Hampi to neolithic settlements
while inscriptional evidence confirms that in more recent times the area came under the
rule of the Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas and finally the tiny kingdom of Kampili.
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The legendary association of this area with Lord Virupaksha (Harihara and Bukka
Raya being of Shaiva faith) and Lord Rama (the personification of the perfect king) was
not lost on the empire's founders. Its natural ruggedness and inaccessibility must have
been additional reasons to choose this location for the capital of the new empire. During
the empire's rule, Vijayanagara was known as one of the most beautiful cities in India. A
copper plate inscription (Tamarashasana) of Marappa (one of the Sangama brothers) is
dated 1346 and traces the Sangama genealogy, identifying the Sangama family deity
(gotradhidaivam) as Lord Virupaksha of Hampi. Inscriptions attesting to the elevation of
Lord Virupaksha to Rashtra devata (God of the Kingdom) have been found. By the time
of Bukka I, the capital had already grown into a great capital and inscriptions call it great
Nagari named Vijaya situated in Hemakuta.
Forts and roads
The Vijayanagar empire created its cities primarily for protection against invasion.
The city itself was a fortress and designed as such in every possible way. It was built of
massive stone and earthen walls, with hilltop fortresses and watch towers scattered
had to travel through a heavily fortified and protected area before reaching the main
urban core which gave them an ample view of the might that protected the empire.
Massive fortifications stood at every possible entry into the main metropolitis and in
other crucial locations. Additional defensive features were watch posts and bastions
located along roads, gates and hilltops that provided maximum visibility.
The capital was the political nerve centre of the empire as well as a center of
commerce and pilgrimage. Envoys from other kingdoms, merchants, pilgrims, soldiers
and ordinary people all travelled about in the great city on its extensive network of
roads. Research has shown over 80 transportation related sites linked by several broad
roads about 30 to 60 m wide that were the major transport routes into the city core.
Smaller roads, less than 10 m wide, led to temples, settlements and irrigation fields. All
major roadways could be monitored from watch towers, gates and rest houses.
The greater metropolitan region of the city was inhabited by royalty, imperial
officers, soldiers, agriculturists, craftsman, merchants, labourers among others. Literary
sources from this era testify to the presence of large military encampments on the city's
outskirts. Outside the metropolis, walled towns and villages were scattered about the
countryside. Some settlements may have been populated by only a few thousand
people while others were large enough to hold ten to fifteen thousand residents. Each
settlement had multiple shrines and temples. Numerous Vijayanagar period relics have
been lost due to the inhabitation of these settlements by modern day settlers.
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While today the city's landscape appears to be barren, there is recorded
evidence of extensive deforestation and numerous agricultural activities. This suggests
that the landscape has changed dramatically. Virtually all available arable land was
irrigated using a variety of innovative methods. A significant percentage of the
population was involved in agriculture, making the city self-sufficient for food. This
enabled it to withstand long sieges, of which there were many during the empire's three
century long existence. Numerous canals were dug to provide a perennial water supply
to the narrow strip of fertile land bordering the Tungabhadra River. Many of these
canals are still in use today though they usually have been modified to meet current
requirements. Many of the tanks (bunds) created for water storage purposes like the
Kamalapura tank are still in use. Excavation of the Intensive Survey Area has shown the
presence of sixty water reservoir embankments. Numerous other agricultural features
such as check dams, erosion control walls and wells have been recorded. The net result
of these systems was a complex agricultural landscape characterized by a multitude of
agricultural regimes appropriate to the complex topography, resources, needs and
Sandur, which formed the southern boundary of the greater metropolitan region,
is still known today for iron and haematite ores. Iron slag and other metallurgical debris
have been documented at more than thirty sites. Of these, five sites have been dated to
the Vijayanagar period and contain iron smelting workshops.
As well as being a bustling commercial and military encampment, the
metropolitan area had over one hundred and forty sacred sites, making it an important
centre of religion and religious pilgrimage. Along with temples, numerous sacred images
and structures have been recorded in residential and defensive sites. Sacred sites
include large temples with towering gopuras, such as the Mallikarjuna temple in the
town of Mallappanagudi located on the main road connecting modern Hosapete and
Vijayanagara and built in the period of Deva Raya I. There are many smaller temples
and shrines. Even more numerous are the images of deities carved into boulder and
slab surfaces as well as hero stones (virgal) which were also considered sacred.
Sculpted icons of Hanuman, Bhairava, Virabhadra and goddesses in various forms are
also frequently seen as well as images from folk traditions such as naga stones (snake
stones) linked with woman's ritual activities. Tombs associated with Muslim inhabitants
of the city are also present.
Battle of Raichur
The fort of Raichur was built by Kakatiya king Rudra in 1284 CE which passed on
to the Vijayanagar kingdom after the decline of Kakatiyas. Ever since, the fort has been
under dispute for nearly two centuries. The fort was captured by Bahmanis in 1323 CE.
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Saluva Narasimha Raya expressed a wish in his testament that the city of Raichur be
recaptured. This has been in the mind of Krishnadevaraya since his coronation in 1509.
In the year 1520 Krishnadevaraya sent Seyed Maraikar, a Muslim in his service to Goa
with a large sum of money to buy horses. Maraikar instead went to Adil Khan with the
money and offered his services. Krishnadevaraya made a demand that Maraikar be
returned along with the money which was duly refused. During the period of peace
Krishnadevaraya made extensive preparations for a grand attack on Raichur doab. After
the court decided that Raichur should be attacked the king invited all commanders
(Nayakas) in his service to take part in the battle.
The Vijayanagar army consisted of some 700,000 fighting men, over 30,000
horses, and 550 elephants. The king Krishnadevaraya performed prayers in the city of
Vijayanagar and left for Raichur. The Vijayanagar army was well-armed
and musketeers with their quilted tunics, shieldmen with their swords and poignards in
their girdles. The horses were in full clothing and elephants had large howdahs from
which four men could fight on each side of them. The army upon nearing the fort of
Raichur pitched the camp on the eastern side of the citadel and began the siege. After
an interval, Krishnadevaraya received intelligence of arrival of Ismail Adil Shah on the
north side of Krishna River with an army of 140,000 cavalry and infantry. On the
morning of May 19, 1520, the forces of Vijayanagar and Bijapur clashed and engaged.
The Vijayanagar army made tremendous noise heralding the engagement. Though
Bijapur had superior firepower, Vijayanagar emerged victorious. Ismail Adil Shah was
defeated and his forces were routed.
In this battle, Krishnadevaraya was supported by some Portuguese soldiers with
Cristovao de Figueiredo at their head. The Portuguese commander was specially
honored by the Vijayanagar king. The Portuguese on the coast gained by the result of
this battle, since Goa rose and fell simultaneously with the rise and fall of Vijayanagar,
considering that the entire trade of Portuguese depended on the support of Vijayanagar.
The Vijayanagar armies later destroyed Gulbarga before a truce was made and
liberated the sons of Mahmud Bahamani. This battle had far-reaching effects; it
weakened the power and prestige of the Adil Shah and he turned his attention to make
alliances with other Muslim neighbors. The victory also caused other Sultans in the
Deccan to come together and consider a combination by aid of which Vijayanagar was
Battle of Talikota
The throne of the Vijayanagara Empire had passed from Achyuta Raya, upon his
death, to Rama Raya. The Sultanates were in constant fear of a much bigger
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